Sunday, May 11, 2008

DO NOT filter for me... I'll do it myself please

ReadWriteWeb has an interesting read on Why Filtering is the Next Step for Social Media:

If there's one thing to be learned from social media tools, it's that these services were not made to interact with one another. Complaints are rolling in and heated discussions are taking place about the noise levels within social media platforms. Here's a look at why noise levels are high and why filtering should be the next step for social media platforms.

Of course, the noise itself contains lots of valuable information. The article acknowledges this; one person's noise is another's gem. But then it goes where all who run these types of services want to go. They want to be my intelligence:

Instead of being able to freely add whatever service you wish, some users like myself are taking into account what others may consider noise on certain services as a courtesy to members. In essence, you are becoming our own filter. You may refrain from important other services for fear of being labeled as "noisy". With better filtering options, users can use these services to their fullest extent without becoming a nuisance to others or missing the benefits of aggregating all of their accounts.

The obvious question raised by this is where the filtering should take place? Personally, I want to do my own filtering. I want to filter on the way out-- I don't want others filtering for me on the way in. If every social media service begins to add filtering then a lot is going to be missed. I don't filter to block information. I use it more proactively-- I use it to surface ideas. If the information isn't there in the first place, because someone has used some "wisdom of the crowds" algorithm to filter for me, then it can't be surfaced. Filtering is an essential information literacy skill. I've often said that everyone needs to know a scripting language for just this reason. This is changing somewhat with the new lighter-weight tools to help people filter on their own: Yahoo Pipes being but one example.

Aggregation is aggregation. Filtering is filtering. When it comes to filtering, I want to do it myself using my own tools. Aggregators should not try to help us too much, and it shouldn't be done site by site.

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