07 March 2016

Baekdal: “How We Lost Social Media to Algorithms”

Think about the old print newspapers, or our old linear cable TV packages. They are doing the same thing. They are saying: Don’t bother thinking about what you need. Just sit back and and let us decide for you.

That’s what linear TV and print newspapers do. They algorithmically replace your personal choices with the convenience of not having to decide. Of course, they do it with people rather than a computer, but the concept is the same.

And look at what these human algorithms did to old media. Look at traditional newspapers. Are they filled with only the best and most relevant content just for you?… or are they filled with the type of articles that aren’t really that amazing nor really that bad? In other words, are they merely the ‘best average’?

Ask yourself, why would a model that has already failed once (algorithmic based programming) suddenly be the future of social media? We are not solving the future. We are repeating the mistakes of the past.

Thomas Baekdal

Wonderful analysis of current social media, sparked by the news that Twitter is planning to offer users an algorithmic timeline instead of the current chronological order. I can certainly relate with the observation about YouTube’s ‘Trending’ tab being filled with shallow ‘crap’ – in my case a bunch of music videos popular in Romania I am already sick of hearing on nearly every radio station, all-day-long. The race to the average is a defining trend in social media – one could almost argue this is how Facebook ‘won’ over Twitter and the other competing social networks, by incorporating popular activities of majority groups (like photo sharing, messaging and now Tumblr memes). Incidentally, memes are another perfect example of ‘average’ content that generates a lot of traffic without adding substance by virtue of filling up a lot of ‘micro moments’, as the author calls them in the article above.

My YouTube trending videos

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