Filtering is the next step for social media

Over on ReadWriteWeb Corvida argues that Filtering is the Next Step for Social Media.

Too right. Couldn’t agree more. And I would say for all media, not just social media.

As she (he?) points out with aggregation services like FriendFeed and others there is so much social media content these days that it is impossible to keep up with it all.

The same is true of blogs and other mainstream media content. I read a post the other day that said many users of feedreaders like Netvibes and Bloglines monitor 1,000-2,000 feeds. That is simply too much for the average person to keep up with.

So we need filters. And we need to view the content as a river, and not worry about making sure we have seen every post from all our favourite authors, or every status update/tweet/blog comment from all of our friends. This takes us away from traditional feedreaders and into a whole new area where the emphasis moves from windows or tiles of content to a flow of content through a single central pane.

I have written about some of these ideas before: Information overload in the web era

  • Nic. Totally agree that there’s also a filtering layer missing from general media content/tools (e.g. the feedreaders, startpages, etc), and from my own experience I’m seeing the benefits of getting key rss feeds pushed through Twitter (since that’s more integrated into my personal workflow than my startpage experience is, and the consumption paradigm is just more effective), as opposed to scanning my large number of Netvibes tabs (although since I don’t have a Scoble-esque capacity to watch Twitter for every waking second of the day I’m not sure that it scales for me as as an rss solution; so for now it’s just the top feeds that I opt to receive via Twitter; and then I wait for interesting stuff to float through to me via the Twitter social recommendation engine, i.e. Twitterers!). My Netvibes usage is sliding, although it remains as one of the key utilities in my armoury for now.

    To be honest, I’m gob-smacked at the lack of innovation that there’s been by the startpage/feedreader services, particularly in relation to the topic of content filtering and increased utility around the content (and since they’re all about the efficient consumption of content, that’s a pretty big miss). The efficiency of receiving content in a qualified stream is not exactly a brand-new paradigm, yet it seems to have passed many the rss aggregators by. Maybe it’s because that by itself it would simply lead to even more uncontrollable information overload (i.e. if all your feeds were piped through an activity stream), which is almost certainly the case (unless you don’t subscribe to many feeds). So it takes something a bit smarter than that to underpin a more efficient content-delivery model. But since the startpage provider knows what I’m reading most (either through viewing the snippet and/or clicking through to the site to read the) then it should be able to build knowledge of what it is that I’m interested in, and then push me more of that type of content (from across my feeds), so creating a virtuous circle of increased engagement with their service (based on ever-optimised content delivery). I need my startpage to help me cut through the noise based on my past behaviour and interests, and this just doesn’t happen currently. It then follows-on to have this experience informed by social recommendation too, e.g. if I read a lot of content on a particular topic and other people are reading the same stuff as me but I’m missing related content from some other sources that I don’t already subscribe to (that these other folks do subscribe to), then suggest that I have a look at that content that I’m missing. So these services become discovery/recommendation engines, as well as being more conventional aggregation mechanisms. This approach would help me to both reduce the noise and to be acquisitive from a content source perspective by leveraging data about my own consumption and customising the experience, and then by overlaying that with socially informed content push (and if you successfully socialise these services around the content, then it opens the way for other forms of community/social interaction around the content).

    (Without wishing to make your blog a BlogFriends memorial site, those guys were seriously onto something in what they were doing from a social content recommendation perspective, and their approach probably solved more than half of the problem, in principle).

    There’s lots more to this theme, in terms of startpages making themselves more useful and more of a utility (they also need to extend themselves beyond their destination site, which is also critical to maintain relevance). But this would be a start. Otherwise I think it’s RIP for the startpage/reader as they’ll get surpassed by more relevant/useful content delivery tools/formats. But the game’s not over yet.

  • Nic. Totally agree that there’s also a filtering layer missing from general media content/tools (e.g. the feedreaders, startpages, etc), and from my own experience I’m seeing the benefits of getting key rss feeds pushed through Twitter (since that’s more integrated into my personal workflow than my startpage experience is, and the consumption paradigm is just more effective), as opposed to scanning my large number of Netvibes tabs (although since I don’t have a Scoble-esque capacity to watch Twitter for every waking second of the day I’m not sure that it scales for me as as an rss solution; so for now it’s just the top feeds that I opt to receive via Twitter; and then I wait for interesting stuff to float through to me via the Twitter social recommendation engine, i.e. Twitterers!). My Netvibes usage is sliding, although it remains as one of the key utilities in my armoury for now.

    To be honest, I’m gob-smacked at the lack of innovation that there’s been by the startpage/feedreader services, particularly in relation to the topic of content filtering and increased utility around the content (and since they’re all about the efficient consumption of content, that’s a pretty big miss). The efficiency of receiving content in a qualified stream is not exactly a brand-new paradigm, yet it seems to have passed many the rss aggregators by. Maybe it’s because that by itself it would simply lead to even more uncontrollable information overload (i.e. if all your feeds were piped through an activity stream), which is almost certainly the case (unless you don’t subscribe to many feeds). So it takes something a bit smarter than that to underpin a more efficient content-delivery model. But since the startpage provider knows what I’m reading most (either through viewing the snippet and/or clicking through to the site to read the) then it should be able to build knowledge of what it is that I’m interested in, and then push me more of that type of content (from across my feeds), so creating a virtuous circle of increased engagement with their service (based on ever-optimised content delivery). I need my startpage to help me cut through the noise based on my past behaviour and interests, and this just doesn’t happen currently. It then follows-on to have this experience informed by social recommendation too, e.g. if I read a lot of content on a particular topic and other people are reading the same stuff as me but I’m missing related content from some other sources that I don’t already subscribe to (that these other folks do subscribe to), then suggest that I have a look at that content that I’m missing. So these services become discovery/recommendation engines, as well as being more conventional aggregation mechanisms. This approach would help me to both reduce the noise and to be acquisitive from a content source perspective by leveraging data about my own consumption and customising the experience, and then by overlaying that with socially informed content push (and if you successfully socialise these services around the content, then it opens the way for other forms of community/social interaction around the content).

    (Without wishing to make your blog a BlogFriends memorial site, those guys were seriously onto something in what they were doing from a social content recommendation perspective, and their approach probably solved more than half of the problem, in principle).

    There’s lots more to this theme, in terms of startpages making themselves more useful and more of a utility (they also need to extend themselves beyond their destination site, which is also critical to maintain relevance). But this would be a start. Otherwise I think it’s RIP for the startpage/reader as they’ll get surpassed by more relevant/useful content delivery tools/formats. But the game’s not over yet.

  • Bart Stevens

    Nic,

    (sorry to bother you again … 😉

    But I think a better word (instead of a filter) is “bait”. That puts the work in the hand of professionals. I (joe sixpack) do not know how to filter “a river” like the Amazon … I just tell a (VRM 😉 platform what I want and they will do the filtering for me. They are the experts …

    What do you think about the approach?

    Bart

  • Nic,

    (sorry to bother you again … 😉

    But I think a better word (instead of a filter) is \”bait\”. That puts the work in the hand of professionals. I (joe sixpack) do not know how to filter \”a river\” like the Amazon … I just tell a (VRM 😉 platform what I want and they will do the filtering for me. They are the experts …

    What do you think about the approach?

    Bart

  • Too true. Nice follow up!

    And I’m a ‘she’ btw 🙂

  • Too true. Nice follow up!

    And I’m a ‘she’ btw 🙂

  • nic

    Hey Bart – you are right, we will need language that makes VRM ideas accessible to the mass market. I don’t know if bait is the right choice though…

  • nic

    Hey Bart – you are right, we will need language that makes VRM ideas accessible to the mass market. I don’t know if bait is the right choice though…