Sunday, December 13, 2009

Human Premium

I have just read an excellent article on rise of fast and cheap content by Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch. It starts with the current commotion over the decline of traditional media, a trend I very much agree with. But then he goes further by pointing out that the next phase , already upon is, is the rise of vast amount of largely worthless content that is produced very cheaply.

This point is very true IMHO, but it does not apply only to the traditional media. At the heart of it is the fact that professionals and others have wised up to the basic weakness of automated means of acquisition on the Internet aka crawling - that weakness being that computers are very dumb in understanding basic things such as quality. One can have many syntactic parameters such as appearance of keywords in headings, titles, frequency of document appearance etc. but it is very easy to produce complete nonsense satisfying all that. A child can do an infinitely better job of judging comment than even the best algorithms can dream of.

In addition to content, online commerce too has been overrun with SEO plays, indeed SEO is the main leg these days of consumer Internet in general.

So what is one to do in the face of this onslaught of vast amounts of garbage floating around? I believe the results will be the (greatly) increased premium of the value of human-based quality discovery. Indeed, it will became harder and harder to sift through reams of nonsense floating around but the reward for those producing quality will be that much higher, based on people sticking with trusted producers.

For instance, there is unbelievable amount of worthless financial comments and outright disinformation floating around. It is indeed hard to penetrate that through casual discovery but if one does little bit more digging through true gems can be found. I rely heavily on a couple of financial blogs and a subscription site to get good information. Of course I watch the rest of it too, but with a big discount.

As a disclaimer, I founded, and work for a startup, Wowd, that leverages human-based discovery. I really believe that all these trends, including the one pointed out by Michael Arrington, are indicators of how the value of human input, coupled with smart automation, will greatly increase and become a key factor in the discovery of high quality content.

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