Irsan suggests that we're entering a period of 'mass personalization', and I couldn't agree more.
I've been considering the seemingly untapped opportunities in this space for some time. Despite the fact that there is SO much business intelligence readily available about each of us, the web remains a large and somewhat unwelcoming pool of information and conversation... For search engines, this is a great thing. But does it have to be this way?
Think about the simplest examples... My laptop has an IP address. While not an exact science, that IP can be tracked back to the West Coast at a minimum, and usually much closer to my exact location. If I hit a weather or news site (again - just examples), why not make a leap of faith and serve what is *most likely* relevant to me - while giving me the option to go bigger if I so choose.
Consider the data that is sitting out there about you. Perhaps it's in your Facebook or Twitter profile, perhaps it's in your blogs about page, perhaps in LinkedIn... Often times, demographics such as location, gender, education, age and family status are readily available. Consider how differently you may serve up content to a married 45 year old with children as opposed to a college student trying to make ends meet.
Go a bit further and tap into some of the social channels... Perhaps now you can determine what vertical I work in, maybe gain insight into some of the initiatives I'm working on, am I an Apple guy or a Windows guy, etc;. Any type of information along these lines opens up new opportunities to serve me as a consumer (and, of course, to market to me).
Yeah, it's a bit lofty. Getting systems to talk to one another across such a diverse ecosystem is not a simple task. Privacy issues are abound. Some will choose to remain a completely anonymous while others will opt to share bits of their information in the interest of a better online experience. Beyond that, I suspect automated data mining across conversational channels will help augment some of the more interesting data points.
I think we can look forward to a day where firing up your favorite browser delivers a bit more than a blank slate experience. There are enormous opportunities in this space and universal profiling is clearly a major foundational component. It will be interesting to see who establishes the biggest footprint in an open id system - they'll be in one heck of a position to start to realize such a vision.
So, I'm with you, Irsan. I look forward to the contextual web of the future. To a day where I don't have to go looking for information, rather it's served to me based on the context of who I am.