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April 29, 2008


Ian Lamont

This is very interesting. A few general comments about algorithmic editors and potential barriers to mainstream adoption:

1) I believe most older audiences are still tied to 20th-century media consumption habits, which emphasize a limited number of personalities, brands, and choices. These habits have carried over to the Web, and can still be seen in people's tendencies to visit a limited number of trusted news sources (often established print and broadcast media outlets). I believe Google News, Techmeme, Silobreaker and other algorithm-driven sites are a hard sell for these audiences. The trust and familiarity is not there, and mixed in with familiar names are lots of unfamiliar and even despised names.

But the type of functionality that they offer, whether it be a computer-generated list of top headlines, or a visualization, might be more palatable if they are introduced by trusted brands -- imagine a CNN trends "widget" that appears on your Facebook profile, or on an article page on, that tracks top items or contextually changes depending on the content of the Facebook profile or individual article?

2) An unfortunate aspect of the algorithmic editors is that they can be manipulated. Witness the rise of spam, SEO, and unusual items and sources appearing with high ranks in Techmeme and Google News.

Matthew Hurst


These are great points. I'm guessing that there are blends of approaches that may be more appropriate to gain adoption. In addition, there may also be different delivery mechanisms that provide more comfort, trust, etc.

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