Content Discovery: A Magical Thing That Does Not Work
I know that I don’t steam off very often, usually not at all, in my posts, but I want to make an exception with this one. Lean back and enjoy.
Discovering new content is huge for startups. Flipboard came at a time where content discovery was finally getting the big attention it always ought to have, when Google introduced Google Reader Play.
Play was always the nicest form of “content discovery”. It wasn’t trying to be pushy, or trying to tell me what I want. It used the information it had about me, and tried to recommend related content.
That all changed when content discovery became a big(ger) thing for startups. I’m talking about things like Nuzzel, Circa, and Zite. Those small services are all fine and dandy, but they lack emotion. All the things sound really really good when you hear them, like:
- We discover the best articles of the topics you are interested in
- We show you the most influential articles of your interest right after you sign up
- We display those posts you would have never have found
The problem is: I’m not adhering to a machine. I don’t want a piece of technology to tell me what my filter bubble is, I would much rather decide this on my own. While I think that finding “hidden gems”, I might miss, because I don’t read a specific blog, is a really really awesome thing, I also really really dislike the fact, that some piece of technology tries to decide which posts I, ultimately, “discover” or not.
For the same reason I just can’t like the Today Summary Widget on iOS. When I use it, it always tells me something about the weather, and whether I have a “full schedule” or a chilled day ahead. It makes these kind of assumptions based on the number of calendar entries I created. You know what iOS? If I have a “busy day ahead”, so be it. I planned it that way! When I plan a day with 5+ meetings, that’s my thing, but I don’t want to hear from some computer that the day ahead is “looks busy”.