It's All About the FILTER
3 min read

It's All About the FILTER

I’ve been wrong to complain about too much media — just as Seth Godin is wrong to suggest that excessive blogging is cluttering the “blog commons.” Thanks, as always, to Umair for the beacon of light:

More to the point: should we see the new world of micromedia as a limited resource; a commons, like Hyde Park, or a fishery? Are we really having externalities on each other when we blog, podcast, and vlog?

I think Seth’s post is this kind of misuse of economics. The genius of micromedia is that it blows apart the notion of distribution of a scarce resource. The whole point is that attention is no longer a commons; now, it’s about individual expectations and preferences.

The rest of Umair’s post is a fascinating critique of how the American obsession with utility is fostering banality and stifling innovation. But I want to focus on why Seth is wrong to call for blogging restraint — and why it’s wrong to call for any restraints on content creation of any kind.

In Media 1.0, mass(ive) media companies controlled both the content creation and the means of distribution — there wasn’t much clutter, but there wasn’t much choice either. In Media 2.0, the means of content creation and distribution are available to anyone and everyone, which has resulted in a (wrongly lamented) explosion of content.

In Media 2.0, the new center of value creation is the FILTER (or “smart aggregators” and “reconstructors,” to use Umair’s terms). In a world of infinite content, it’s the filter that creates a coherent media experience.

The problem right now is not that there’s too much content, but that the filters are still too primitive and Old Media is still clinging to control of its content, reducing the “liquidity” of the network.

So the answer is definitely NOT to produce less content, but to completely liberate content, load it up with metadata, and let content consumers interact with it and draft off it in every way, shape, and form.

But that will only give us the raw material (albeit in its most valuable form). Then we need to have filters (or “reconstructors”) to put all the pieces together in useable packages or streams.

We’ve still got a long way to go.

As for Seth, well, that was so 1.0.

See Seth’s comment below

I don’t think that effective filtering in Media 2.0 has anything to do with the amount of space allocated to presenting the filtered results. It has to do with making each “microchunk” of content as high-yield as possible for each media consumer.

If each of a blogger’s posts contains must-have, highly-valuable information for a certain niche, that blogger will be successful with 1 post a day or 25. If there was a blogger who could figure out how to post the 25 most useful pieces of information for ME every day, I would read that blogger and no one else.

But a blog can’t “win” in Media 2.0 by being a “destination” for readers any more than an Old Media company can win by making its website the ultimate destination.

An update from Seth’s site:

some have rightly pointed out that filters and tagging mean that the commons benefits from as much noise as possible… that each blogger blogs all she wants, and the good stuff gets dugg or tagged and the rest disappears.

I have no real argument with that, except that it begs the question of who’s looking through the chaff for the wheat. If someone has a blog where every single riff is a good one, you can bet that the eager beaver taggers are going to be there, waiting for the good stuff. If, on the other hand, you have a one in a thousand hit rate, the odds of your good stuff being found are small indeed. I think what I’m suggesting (not proposing… I’m not asking you to post less!) is that if you want to have a larger voice, it may pay be to be your own filter.

(hmmm, wonder who those anonymous “some” are…)

Seth is right that the disconnect here is that we’re all having trouble imagining who or what is going to play the role of filter (or reconstructor) and how it will all work. But I think he’s conflating too different issues — blogs as content creation brands and blogs as filters. If you think of blogs as content creation brands, then I agree that a higher yield on quality content will lead to greater success for that blog’s content, wherever and however it’s consumed. But that’s an entirely separate notion from individual bloggers as filter.

I can’t claim to have any clarity on how the 2.0 filtering process should ideally work — but I think that’s where all the action is.