New Media Filters Include the Human Touch, Not Just Web Crawlers - Popular Sites Adjust
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At TechCrunch’s panel discussion, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark revealed that the way he consumes media has drastically changed over the past couple of years and has actually shifted towards relying on other people rather than search engines and similar online tools. This is especially ironic when considering the fact that Craigslist, once a place for easily finding everything from an apartment to a vintage bicycle, could easily and effectively be used.
Now it seems as if a majority of the listings on Craigslist are spam, scams, or put in place by companies rather than actual individuals, but that’s about to change. Just as Newmark’s own personal online viewing habits are changing, Craigslist is also cracking down on these spammers so that users can have a more efficient and useful experience on the site.
“It’s all about a balance between professionals and citizens,” Newmark said. It’s important to point out that this new trend towards using people to help filter online media isn’t just about taking recommendations from FaceBook friends. During TechCrunch’s event, Newmark revealed that his media consumption is influenced by “a combination of social networking, and professional and personal recommendations -- from news stories on Twitter to those selected by the New York Times, and from television shows suggested by friends online to those highlighted by The San Francisco Chronicle's Tim Goodman.” Essentially, this means that a book recommendation via Twitter is just as useful as a popular columnist recommending a restaurant or a good friend recommending a record via a MySpace comment.
Popular websites such as Digg were once considered revolutionary for their ability to give their users control of the content featured on the site. Originally, they enabled users to discover and share content from absolutely anywhere on the web. Though Digg didn’t provide specified information, the site always featured stories, links, and articles that the average Digg user would find interesting and relevant.
Lately, however, the site isn’t personally tailoring its experience the way it once did and the way new users are now demanding. At the roundtable discussion, Digg’s CEO Jay Adelson said his site is currently working towards being able to personalize its service. According to Adelson, “Digg is rebuilding its platform specifically to create ‘verticals’ focused on different types of content that appeal to different sorts of people.” As a matter of fact, later this month the site is going to announce "another layer of vetting that will help highlight certain types of stories more quickly. Digg absolutely has to change. We're at about 40 million users today, but it's one size fits all,” Adelson said.
Surely what everyone wants to know is how this new desire for personalized results and recommendations will affect search engine giants like Google and Yahoo. There’s no word yet on what Yahoo will do to meet the new needs of consumers, but Google is already making steps towards changing the way they offer results.
Reportedly, the search engine has been integrating social features into their offerings and incorporating human evaluations into its search results, which can judge the relevancy of the results based on the number of times people link to a specific page, among other factors. Chances are other search engines and popular websites will follow suit, allowing their users to have a more personalized experience that provides more relevant results than ever before.
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