I was in NYC today at the Rethink meetings held by the Advertising Research Foundation.
I fell into conversation with Chris Damsen, VP, Business Development for Netvibes.com. And, boy, is this an interesting topic of conversation. Now that we really can “create our own newspapers,” we have our work cut out for us.
I suddenly realized my problem with aggregators. When I configure my feeds, I want just about everything. This image above shows just half of the featured widgets at Netvibes. Financial Times? Check! Slate? You bet! Billboard.com? Yes, please! Wired Magzine? Wrap them up, I’ll take them all. And then there are all the blogs. My Google Reader has tons of them.
This informational excess is not inflicted on me by the market place, the kind of thing that worries Barry Schwartz. No, this profusion of possibilility is created and sustained by me alone. Hi, my name is Grant McCracken and I’m a data glutton.
Data gluttony is a terrible condition. Everytime I turn on my aggregator, I feel like I am at an all-you-eat event at Denny’s. Really, it can’t end well. And eventually, I just stop turning the aggregator on. To cope with being a data glutton I make myself a data pauper.
What I need is advice on knowlege architecture. Or maybe it’s a matter of data economics. Maybe I should be treating information as if it were a scarce resource. Maybe the aggregator should be giving me 100 points to “spend” on data feeds and force me to make choices. All this “free” information is actually guite costly.
It sounds like a job for IDEO or someone, doesn’t it? Give us the perfect architecture (for someones like us) and let us fill it in. But for god’s sake don’t leave us to our own resources. Hi, my name is Grant McCracken and I’m a data pauper.
The upshot of this conversation for me was that a market in the information space is emerging. I won’t pay anything for access to the New York Times. This is an interesting aggregator, but it’s way too chunky for me to be exquisitely useful. I want a combination of machine and human editing that gives me all but only the things I need, and for this I am prepared to pay handsomely.
It’s not that we won’t pay for editing. It’s becoming clear, I think, that we are now eager to pay for editing, even to pay a premium for editing. (After all, our careers now depend upon early warning, good information, timely intelligence. Not to know what we need to know in a dynamic economy, what could this cost us?)
We just don’t want to pay for the editing now made available to us by the market place. Again, the New York Times is a grand institution, but it doesn’t capture or treat the things I need to know about in the ways I need to know about them. I need something both more extensive and more intensive. I will pay for the Economist, and I do so because it selected out at a ferocious rate and it adds value of an extraordinary kind.
This much is clear, there is a market emerging. It doesn’t appear to have any entries. I wish they’d hurry up. Because otherwise I’m hopeless.