A like Zite, but I just don’t like my Zite recommendations enough. That is why I feel as a content curation tool, it doesn’t meet my expectations…just yet.
Zite is a content curation app that:
- mining content from your social connections
- modeling that content
- modeling the community that interacts with it
- modeling your interests
- matching your interests to the content and your community, to help you discover content youâ€™ll want to see
Here’s a screenshot of my Top Stories based on the above:
Pretty uninspiring huh and yet the content served up is meant to be a reflection of what I like and what my peers like so why doesn’t it surprise and delight? How easy would it be to influence Zite to serve up stuff I’m more likely to be interested in? The answer is pretty hard actually. I could purge my twitter followers that has led it down the path of social media marketing but that would be extreme and antisocial. Alternatively I could wade through the content and down mark the stuff I’m not that interested in the hope of improving the overall quality.
If the main objective to go on Zite is to influence it’s output rather than to enjoy the content then it’s decision making algorithm needs to be tweaked. This is not the first time perceptive media has gone off piste. Take for example TIVO’s intuitive recording functionality which has thrown up similar issues for viewers in the US.
No, I would much rather like to think that our interests are much broader, much more diffused than those prescribed by the machine logic of Zite, the scrobbles of LastFM or Amazon Recommendations. That’s why the professional curation of Brain pickings is so much richer in terms of interesting and engaging content, probably because the team there spends over 450 hours every month trawling for stuff. There is also a subtle distinction at play, and that is Maria Popova and her team curate content that interests them and may interest us.
There is a sense of serendipity in discovering something new or surprising that take us through a particular rabbit hole or scratches an itch. Philippe Petit, describes this vividly in the documentary Man on Wire. He describes the moment when he was sitting in a dentist waiting room and came across a magazine article describing the future construction of the World Trade Centre. It was this moment that sparked his ambition to high wire between the twin towers.
Zite assumes that we like certain content until it is are told otherwise.Â But there is an inherent fallacy at work within this machine logic. The belief that we like being served up the same stuff without losing interest. It’s like the party bore who corners you and drones on about a particular subject matter, you may have a fleeting interest but by patience and goodwill quickly evaporates and out comes the excuse that you need a drink or the toilet.