There has been a lot of buzz recently around an article from The Awl titled “The Next Internet is TV.” I won’t spend the majority of this post rehashing it, but here’s the Sparknotes to catch you up:
1) The next internet is TV.
2) Is the next internet TV?
3) “The gaps left by the websites we stop looking at will be filled with new things, and most people won’t really notice the change until it’s nearly done, because they will have been incredibly not bored…In this scenario, what publications will have done individually is adapt to survive; what they will have helped do together is take the grand weird promises of writing and reporting and film and art on the internet and consolidated them into a set of business interests that most closely resemble the TV industry.”
Now, a #reaction from me.
This article surfaces a host of tensions, but at forefront are the notions of direct content vs. aggregated content that is mediated by someone else. Essentially, reading single things in different places or reading collections of different things, together.
The internet started as a digital mirror of the things in the world. You have a company, you have a website representing that company. You claim your www. in the infinite sprawl that is the web. Accordingly, independent bits of content meant that the user was navigating through many different websites to get a more complete set of information.
Fast-forward twenty years and online content producers get bundled together to form power-sites like Gawker, NYTimes, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post or ESPN. These conglomerates rule massive networks of bloggers, and users begin indexing their consumption heavily through “favorites” or even aggregators of aggregators.
The Awl’s article posits that we’re at another tipping point. In this new world, not every content provider needs a website. The funneling of a broad array of content through fewer channels is the first step in this journey towards “television-ness” and away from “internet-ness.” A few major power-players control it all, and the cost of entry is building a similarly aggregated power-player funded by an existing, large brand.
One example, heavily cited in the article, is Fusion, a new “Millennial” network/internet channel created by Disney. Fusion looks like Buzzfeed meets Vice meets the (confusing) new Bloomberg.com. The design feels over-done; the content feels like something I could have read anywhere else. And, I feel scared, because everything is becoming one aesthetic. Or everything powered by brands, at least.
We have to ask: “What happens when only a few media outlets control content on internet?” The reality is that this has been the case IRL for a long time, but digital is newer territory. One key consideration is scale. We’ve never had a network with so many active participants and the sheer expansion of the internet means nothing stays the same for very long. Moreover, this consolidation faces the great democratization and empowerment that has been facilitated by digital. People are really into “making things” right now, and they are equipped with the right tools. The question is whether they’re comfortable doing it under the umbrella of a larger brand, but there will always be people who strike out alone.
I have to believe that the internet will not become TV and that niche content players will survive. Why? Because they’re focused, they’re exclusive and what they don’t do is equally as important as what they do. It might take more work to find these outposts of original content, but there is a reward at the end of that user journey.
And after all, the discovery of something new and different will forever be a marker of #cool.
Getting you the right content to share — on social media, on your blog, in social selling programs, on your site — is what Rallyverse does. Our algorithms scour the web and your content archives to recommend the right mix of new, engaging and relevant things for you to share with your audiences everywhere your brand is. That’s our deal.
With our new Search tools, you’ll be able to find a lot more content from a lot more places a whole lot faster.
In addition to instantly filtering your recommended content by whatever search term you enter or select from Your Keywords or Trending Topics, we’re now searching our entire content index (2,099,620 documents and counting when I sat down to type this up) for relevant items that match your search. Maybe you want something from a source you don’t usually check out? Maybe you’re looking to share something on a topic you don’t usually discuss? Chances are, we’ve got you covered.
(Worth noting: all 2 million-plus documents in our index are from sources that the team at Rallyverse has personally selected. We don’t rely on anyone else’s search index or taxonomy or curated lists. Nope. We vet and choose every single source ourselves. And then, of course, our team of robots takes over to classify and categorize each content source and fill the content index. There are only so many people that work here.)
This is all very cool.
What’s even cooler is that we’ve also indexed all of our clients’ Owned content assets. What’s that mean? It means that it’s easier than ever to search your brand’s content archives for items that match the topics that matter to you and your community right now — even if that content falls outside your typical lookback windows. Need something from your blog from last February? We can find that. How about a Slideshare from October 2013? We can do that.
The best part about our Search is that it’s easy to use (just start typing at any point and we’ll open the Search box) and very very fast.
How fast? This fast:
That’s a little blurry, right? Let’s look at a closeup just to be sure:
Like we said, search everywhere, fast. Let us know if you’d like to see it for yourself.
Do you know what topics work best for your brand? How about the ones that tend to flop? Do you have the tools required to tell the difference? With the new tagging details in Rallyverse Reports, it’s easy to see how you’re using tags as well as which tags are delivering the most engagement.
With Posts By Tag, you can check to see how your actual posting behavior matches your content strategy. Are you focusing on the topics that map to your brand’s content goals? How many times did you post content from your blog? How much video did you share?
With Engagements By Tag, you’re able to determine the performance of each different type of content. Reports is happy to do the math for you and generate Top-5 and Bottom-5 lists that summarize which Tags generate the best (and worst) engagement rates.
(Looks like we need to keep rolling with the Space posts and maybe dial down the Robots a bit. And maybe even do more with our Slideshare posts.)
If this all looks new to you, don’t worry. You can create Tags in Settings and attach them to every post you share. You can also filter your content calendar by Tag to set your content strategy for the coming weeks and months.
Good news: we’ve just released a new set of controls to let you fine-tune your Rallyverse content recommendations. While a limited set of ranking settings were previously available to admin users, all users now have access to a much deeper set of controls. This means that you can decide how you’d like our ranking algorithms to evaluate and surface content in Rallyverse.
Here’s what’s now on offer:
How do you want your content to be ranked and recommended? You can choose between content scored on Relevancy, which takes into account how each item matches currently trending topics across social networks, or Keywords, which recommends content based on how well it matches the keywords you’ve entered into Rallyverse. You can also adjust the amount of keyword matches and owned content you’d like to see to further tune your results.
How far back do you want Rallyverse to look when it makes recommendations for you? If you’re publishing just today’s curated content, you might only want the most recent stories. If you’re sending a weekly social selling newsletter, you might want to look at the recent week’s best content. And if you’re digging into your owned content archives, you may want to look at only the past few days — or the entire year.
What sources do you want included in your content recommendations? Just curated sources? Do you want to include Tweets from the users you follow on Twitter? How about highlights from your Twitter lists? You can mix and match here.
Should we really be surprised that Facebook uses human beings in a testing lab to tune and improve the algorithm that determines what shows up in the News Feed?
With the scale of Facebook’s product, audience and market cap, it’s easy to assume that they have the horsepower to With over a billion users and tons of engagement, sure there is enough behavioral data for them to perfectly calibrate News Feed results to delight their users.
However, if you use Facebook, you know that isn’t exactly the case.
The Newsfeed doesn’t always get it exactly right. Even with all that data about what you’ve liked in the past, what your friends like, how long it takes you to scroll past different types of content, your News Feed can get repetitive, or even boring.
It turns out Facebook knows a purely data-driven News Feed isn’t perfect either, and now they’re using groups of human beings to augment the News Feed algorithms:
“It comes from the intuition that you can only get so far by looking at online behaviors,” says Cox. “It’s expensive, and it takes time. But what you really want is to sit down with 1.2 billion people, every single one, and ask them to go through and point at ‘I really loved that one.” Why did you really love that one? ‘Well I really liked that one because it’s from a person I went to high school with and I use Facebook to stay in touch with people from high school.’ Why did you hate this one? “I really hated this one because I really hate memes.’”
And, if we’re surprised by that sort of approach from Facebook, we shouldn’t be. Google and Microsoft have certainly used humans to evaluate the quality of search engine results for years. If we’re surprised at all, it’s probably because we assume Big Companies and Big Data have All-Powerful Machines From The Future that should never be wrong. From NPR:
Let’s say you have a human making a tough decision alongside an algorithm – researchers recently asked whether we judge algorithmic mistakes more harshly than we judge human mistakes. Berkeley Dietvorst at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania has just finished a study. He has volunteers judge mistakes made by humans and mistakes made by algorithms, and he finds something very interesting. People failed to use the algorithm after they’d seen the algorithm perform and make mistakes, even though they typically saw the algorithm outperform the human. In our studies, the algorithms outperform people by 25 to 90 percent.
That is, we have higher expectations for algorithms than people, and we’re more likely dismiss an algorithm when we catch it making a mistake.
Essentially, none of us want to believe [SPOILER ALERT if you haven't seen Snowpiercer] that you need a small child to make the perpetual motion machine driving the train in Snowpiercer work, and maybe we’re pretty disappointed in Ed Harris when that hatch is opened. But the train was a pretty impressive piece of engineering, and, well, if it takes a human help to keep it moving, we shouldn’t be too surprised.