I read an interesting article on Wired recently talking about how Apple could take over the television industry, but probably won’t. In the article, the author proposed that while media has come a long way, with Netflix’s ability to show us anything at any time, and Hulu’s ability to give us way more content than anyone else, but it still has a long way to go.
So it got me thinking about social media and how Facebook was a real gamechanger when it came out, much like Netflix when it started offering streaming services, but also how advancement seem to have stalled when it comes to social media.
In the Wired article the author suggests that in order for digital media (TV Shows, Movies) to evolve it has to become smarter. And I think social media too has to become smarter in order to evolve.
When Facebook was first made available to the general public back in 2006 I got on it right away. It was my job at the company I worked for at the time to determine what effect these “new technologies” would have on organic search.
So I did register my first Facebook account back in 2006 and my first reaction was “well this is boring”. I thought this because at the time I was the only one out of my friends, family and extended group of associates who had ever heard of it. In fact it took a good 2-3 years before my “friends” started to show up on Facebook. And when that happened, well let’s just say I was blown away.
Friends I hadn’t spoken to since elementary school were suddenly available – 24 hours/day 7 days/week. Well OK they weren’t “available” but their status updates were. I could log into Facebook whenever I wanted and learn what old friends were doing a half a world away.
But then Facebook changed.
Rather than just serve me a chronological list of what everyone in my circle was doing, it decided to guess for me what I wanted to see. And while this “guessing” algorithm has gotten better it is far from perfect.
You see, Facebook still hasn’t learned what I want to see – only what it thinks I want to see – and there’s a huge valley of a difference between the two. Grand Canyon sized valley.
While I may have commented on a friend’s status 10 days ago – I’m passed that. Don’t show it to me today just because someone else commented.
And don’t show my pictures of a meal a friend ate at a restaurant I’ll probably never see.
And don’t show me inspirational quotes that they copied from someone else, or show me funny pictures of cats (or any other animal) with cute captions.
Instead, show me what I really want to see.
Now while that may sound simple, in reality it is extremely complex. That is because we, as Internet users, have been trained by Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL and everyone else out there to scan. Start at the top and scan to the bottom.
So Facebook, in its infinite wisdom, added infinite scroll to their site – now, when I get to the bottom a bunch of more useless crap shows up at the bottom allowing me to scroll even more.
Really, I don’t blame Facebook for this. I blame its’ users. Yes my friends, family and acquaintences. I too am even guilty of sharing the odd (many?) funny pictures or useless status updates. Sometimes because I feel pressured too (Oh god it’s been 2 days and I haven’t posted on Facebook – gotta find something to say or share), and sometimes I find things that make me LOL (Yes I did it – used LOL in a sentence).
But not all my friends/family/acquantences care what I had for breakfast today, or that I found some borderline tasteless image with caption funny. Yet because some of them have commented on some of my stuff in the past they get to go through it all with me, even if they don’t want to.
So that’s really my point to Facebook et al. Give me what I want, not what you think I want.
Ahh that’s the true problem isn’t it? Give me what I want. What is it I want? Well that’s a very good question. What I want is a moving target. Right now I don’t mind reading political articles and news because we are coming up to an election. But after the election I could care less what the unelected are doing.
Right now I’m thinking about that TV show I just watched and what other shows the star was in because they sure looked familiar.
Right now I’m thinking about Google’s latest moves because it is the work day and technically I am working.
Right now I DO NOT WANT to see people I might know – because you know what? For all the times I’ve seen that there I think I added 1 friend.
Right now I DO NOT WANT to see the latest comment on someone’s status THAT I COMMENTED ON 10 DAYS AGO!
Right now, and never, do I want to see GAMES! I hate Facebook games! I’ve blocked most of them from showing up in my feed yet every so often someone finds a new one and I start getting those notifications. You’d think after blocking THEM ALL Facebook would realize, I DON’T WANT TO SEE ANYTHING ABOUT GAMES!
I thought the solution to this was simple. I switched from the “Top Stories” view in Facebook to the “Most Recent” and to a certain extent that did help.
But in reality – the way things are with Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram and (fill in your social network here) is not good enough. They are close. But not there yet.
Like the author in the Wired article said – show me what I want.