Curated Information Feeds
For a good few years now, I’ve actively modified who I follow, and what updates I receive digitally through social and news media – with Facebook, this generally means choosing who I want to receive updates from, and in what order (or at all), which allows me to maintain ‘friendship’ with individuals I don’t necessarily want to receive updates from (there are only so many ‘inspirational’ quotes of the day one can take) – other sites like Instagram are by design more curated (images in this case), and I generally ‘digest’ news from the likes of Feedly. Read more, know more. (which I would recommend opting for the premium package), and other free feeds such as Hacker News and Techmeme .
Whilst curated feeds, at least for me, are far more valuable and time efficient, I am also aware I’m creating a hyper-targeted feed opportunity for the owners of the tools, and their customers. Behavioural advertising is nothing new, Amazon and the like have been doing this for years, however when I as the user start to tweak and modify my own feed, it augments and optimizes behind-the-scenes behavioural algorithms that result in more targeted advertising. And it’s not just a pure advertising opportunity either – Twitter recently switched on their new algorithmic timeline feed Twitter’s new algorithm is now on for everyone as a way to retain users, given the user growth stall Twitter has been experiencing Twitter disappoints investors as user growth hits wall| Reuters .
Whether it is social media consumers modifying their own feeds, or providers activating new algorithms, traditional chronological feeds are slowly being replaced with curated, targeted content. Casey Johnston talks at length about the evolution of the information feed, stating that “Services that not only passively anticipate your needs but ask you questions, and answer yours, would be a good next step” – Casey Johnston on the evolution of social media feeds. Johnston is speaking specifically to social media, or media feeds, but this concept extends to all other sorts of data provision.
Intelligent Information Ecosystem
If we think about large, global-scale big data initiatives, or companies attempting to provide the ‘right information, to the right people, at the right time’, curated content is King. Investment bankers, or lawyers, don’t want a chronological stream of news, events or research data; they want highly relevant, contextual intelligence. Ann Winblad once stated that ‘Data is the new oil’ (Is Data The New Oil?), but of course oil in of itself does not hold value, it is how oil is employed which provides value to consumers.
The obvious example of this is the invention of the combustion engine, which ushered in a new era of incredible automotive innovation, the ‘killer app’ in a sense, and has remained a core component in the transport industry for decades. Granted, it is currently undergoing significant change with the likes of electric vehicles and alternative fuels, but the fundamental engineering paradigm remains. The ecosystem that emerged surrounding this innovation is equally as impressive, from continual advancement in automotive engineering performance through to an entire insurance industry, the number of products and services available to consumers has been exponential in growth since the early part of the 20th Century.
Transforming the Digital Business
When we consider digital information, the ‘new oil’, companies now need to decide where they play in the digital ecosystem; do they look to manufacture the next combustion engine, something which everyone in some manner leverages and builds upon, or do they play in the space surrounding the killer app, providing additional tools and services which further enhance the core service offering?
Pioneering, and lasting digital enterprises, will be those which tap into a wide array of different digital business opportunities, connecting their internal data and devices to the external world. Partnering and collaboration will become ever more important, especially with tech focused firms – competitive edge once maintained through scale and global reach will become commodity, and more agile start-up organisations will start to erode market share through tech innovation and price competitiveness.
I Want it All (and I want it now)
When I think about what I want from a digital service, be that general news or something more specific, I want a highly curated, customizable & secure service. I’m happy for the tool or feed owners to utilize my data for commercial purposes, but there must be opt out options (with appropriate limitations on content) and there must be full visibility into how my data/meta is used. Services I use regularly are starting to already make these changes, allowing me to further customize my experience, access information wherever I am (on whichever device), and as long as they continue to offer the ‘best’ experience for me, then I’ll continue to use their service.
However, I am not tethered to these services in any way, I am not loyal to any one particular business. Tech innovation in many ways has made the user experience less sticky; it is quite easy for me to jump ship, and I can do so on a whim if the mood takes me. I think 2017 will start to see far more control and power over personal content afforded to the end user, which as someone working in the digital media industry, is both a terrifying and thrilling prospect!