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Robin Good's insight:
Lutz Finger, reports from SxSW on the topic of algorithms, curation and the future, as the skills of content creators, data analysts and code programmers are seemingly converging for the first time.
Among others, he reports Steve Rosenbaum (founder of Magnify.net) significant own words at SxSW: "...a wise combination of human judgement enabled by algorithms will become the new king of content."
But while there are great new tools, startups and ideas leveraging the great potential of big data and human curation, there is a big, invisible danger, still looming on us.
"The danger is that any algorithm might fall prey to someone trying to influence it.
But the biggest and realest danger lies in us.
Informative. Resourceful. 7/10
See also: www.masternewmedia.org/future-of-search
Image: Bjoern Ognibeni - SxSW
Guillame DeCugis: "This is a very interesting piece by Erin Griffith (again!) on the potential scalability issues of content curation. You can pass quickly on her first part where she easily bashes the usual concerns about the curation word being overhyped and over used.
She makes a really good point on her second part, building on the experience of Behance, the platform to publish one's creative work: using a mix of algorithms and human curation is a part of the answer to this scale issue.
But another way to scale curation is to add a topic-centric layer. In the problem she describes (which is typically Behance's problem), scaling up is tough because curation is being applied to sort out the best content on a unique dimension: a home page that's the same for everyone.
"Behance’s front page could no longer display what algorithms determined was the most popular art within [the] site’s community. Because of boobs. They are universally the most popular thing on the Web, and not even a tasteful, creative site like Behance is safe when the “wisdom of the crowd” is involved.
To be clear — boobs are welcome on Behance, but the site skews toward commercially viable work. A porn pit may entice creative directors but not in the way Behance wants to entice them." she funnily writes.
If you added topics to that, you can solve the problem by having people follow whichever topics they want.
And I'm not talking about the usual 10-20 categories you find on any content sites. I'm talking about long-tail, user-created topics that any user can opt in to follow or unfollow. Boobs fans can then follow dozens of Boobs topics curated by other fellow users without having to pollute the experience for everyone else.
By mixing a topic-centric model with curation, you apply it to as many dimensions as your users will decide to curate. That's the model we've been using at Scoop.it and so far, it scales pretty well, doesn't it?"
Robin Good: For the record you may want to check this video of Gabe Rivera from Techmeme at LeWeb 2008 already discussing this issue and arriving at the same conclusions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4Zi_U6iZxU there's no way to build a perfect news or aggregation engine. The best solution is indeed a mix of aggregation and filtering tools matched by a topic-expert curator.
Via Guillaume Decugis, Heiko Idensen
Robin Good: Brett Sandusky attacks the "discovery" topic with simple, straight logic, analyzing what all the new startups and the new tech fanatics seem to systematically look over.
How can you help me discover new stuff, if you are intentionally limiting your exploratory gathering to algorithms and to, however varied, network of contacts?
She writes: "The discoverability problem in books is a challenge. It’s about connecting users to new and interesting titles, that they wouldn’t normally have seen. This last part bears repeating: …that they wouldn’t normally have seen.
Ultimately, the problem with all these discoverability sites is this: their algorithms (if they are even using an algorithm) are based on aggregate data in a one size fits all model.
The more people who read something, the more often it shows up in your recommendations. But, that’s not discoverability. That’s the NYT bestseller list. That’s Nielsen Bookscan telling you the top sales of the week.
Just because most of my friends are reading bestsellers (because, duh, whose aren’t? In fact, that seems to just reinforce the concept of the term “bestseller”) does that mean I should only be shown these titles?
Obviously, the answer is no. But, how do we get there?"
The answer is that we need a) more expert and qualified human intervention to unearth and pick new stuff, and b) behavioral data coupled with data collected on customer preference to allows us to connect those selected materials to the users in the system.
Rightful. Timely. 8/10
(Image credit: Josephine Wall - Discovery)
Robin Good: Maurice Boucher takes a stand for human curators in the arts, by placing string emphasis on the fact that purely alorithmic solutions cannot really discern people expressed needs and desires from unexpressed ones.
His central point is this: "At the heart of the online music curation role is the possible solution to the expressed need versus unexpressed desire problem that permeates the Internet and prevents us from developing internet culture beyond purely commercial interests."
He writes: "...I know of no algorithm that can work out the difference between what people ask for and what they actually desire.
That is the philosophical question that really is the core software requirement of a music recommendation engine, and music curation is an ideal testbed case to see if we can build a layer on the internet to act as verification of the search process.
...communicating socially and informally (with strangers) and sharing music is not enough to build a bridge between what people ask for and what they desire.
People have to have a sense that some agency is acting at least semi-exclusively for them and has some insight into who they are."
"At the heart of the online music curation role is the possible solution to the expressed need verses unexpressed desire problem that permeates the Internet and prevents us from developing internet culture beyond purely commercial interests."
"The artists have to be included in the equations that run the algorithms of curation and filtering for the internet to have a future beyond being just another compendium of useless facts and trivia."