Business Week Launches Info Sharing Social Network – Will It Float?

Business Week Magazine has entered the social networking world with Business Exchange. Business Exchange is built around the sharing of information and discussing it with others. Here’s how Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler described it:

“Business Exchange, a free online information hub, is a new initiative of BusinessWeek.com. It enhances the ongoing reporting and analysis of Business Week writers and editors in print and online by aggregating other sources of news and analysis (including other media brands, blogs, videos, and research reports). Readers can use it to track business trends, with hundreds of topics available at launch, or create a specific topic that’s not currently on the Exchange.

The best part is the social underpinning of this platform. Users (including our journalists and editors) can share their own knowledge about a subject to enrich each topic far beyond what any single person or search engine can accomplish.

Business Exchange is a mix of:

  • Social bookmarking
  • Forums
  • Social network

Business Exchange vs. FriendFeed

FriendFeed actually has a similar mission to that described by Business Week’s editor-in-chief. So I put together a quick comparison of the two sites:

FriendFeed feels like a hotbed of activity, the kind of site where you’re compelled to hit the F5 refresh button. Business Exchange is more staid, partly because it doesn’t yet have an active user base, partly due to its design. The key design points from the table above that make a difference are:

  • Bounce to the top – Adding a comment or a save doesn’t move an item to the top of the Business Exchange page for a given topic, losing that feeling of “what’s hot”.
  • Forced segregation of content – For a given topic in Business Exchange, you can look at News or Blogs or References. But you can’t take them all in at once.
  • View Saves by user – In the list of entries on Business Exchange, you can’t see how many times an item has been Saved. This information is available for an individual item. But it’s not an easy experience to see what others found valuable.

As seen in this discussion, community, conversations, variety and outstanding design are making a difference for FriendFeed.

That being said, Business Exchange is new and it’s beta. Let’s see what they are doing.

Business Exchange’s Features

Content is both streamed and added. Being streamed into Business Exchange seems like a nice bonus for a media site or blogger. Check out the difference below in the way these two items made it into Business Exchange:

The MyDebates post was “published” into the topic. The Soul of the Enterprise post was “added” to the topic. From what I can tell, designated media sites and blogs are automatically added based on either key words or tags.

Full Profile. You get a full profile page on Business Exchange. Work, education, picture and up to four links to other sites. It also shows your recent activity, which is nice.

Building a social network. You can’t search for other users. So you find them when they’re displayed as “Active Users” on the site, via the items they Save or Comments they make. It makes it a bit challenging to build out your list of subscriptions. Your subscriptions are simply a list, and you can click an individual to see their activity. There is not currently a way to see the aggregated activities only of your subscriptions.

Focus on Most Active. At different points on the site, Business Exchange gives a list of what’s most active. The home page tells you the most active Topics, and gives a list of Active Users. Each topic includes a list of Most Active, which does aggregate from News, Blogs and References.

The definition of Most Active inside a topic is probably based on the number of Views, Saves and Comments. You can see all of those stats for an item when you go to make a Comment. I like seeing those stats.

If You’re Business Minded, Check It Out

It’s early in the life of Business Exchange. Getting more users will, of course, make it a more interesting place to hang out. It doesn’t hurt that it hangs off the businessweek.com site, and that it can get periodic boosts from the print magazine.

I’m still learning the site, and maybe the Most Active tab for each Topic is the place to be.

My profile on Business Exchange is here. If you sign up, add me, and I’ll add you back.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Business+Week+Launches+Info+Sharing+Social+Network+-+Will+It+Float%3F%22&public=1

I’m Doubling Down My Subscriptions Because of FriendFeed Lists

As discussed here before, FriendFeed’s beta version includes the ability to tag users, putting them in different Lists you create. You can create your own programming channels.

I’m loving this feature.

One effect for me has to been to add subscriptions left and right. Why? Two reasons:

  1. Now that I’ve got themed Lists, I want there to be some good content in them! Right now, I’m subscribing to a lot of FriendFeeders who are into Enterprise 2.0 or who have an amazing eye for pictures.
  2. Managing a high flow of content is a lot easier. You can take users out of your Home feed, and tag them into different Lists. Check the Lists at your leisure, and you can see content for many, many more people. It doesn’t all just go flying by you.

Here’s my rendition of how Lists have changed the FriendFeed experience:

How about you? You started your Lists yet?

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22I%E2%80%99m+Doubling+Down+My+Subscriptions+Because+of+FriendFeed+Lists%22&public=1

Toluu Rolls Out Tagging {cool} {powerful} {discovery} {easy}

Toluu, everyone’s favorite blog recommendation application, has released a powerful new feature: tagging.

Tagging is a ubiquitous element of Web 2.0. As content creators and consumers add tags, everyone benefits. Things are easy to find, and there’s fun in clicking those tags – you never know what you’ll discover. I’m also a fan of the idea that tagging illuminates someone’s interests. Know someone’s tags, know their interests. A look to the right side of this blog shows the areas that I like to cover. As Toluu founder Caleb Elston has previously noted:

Tagging is super powerful. A few simple words can bring a ton of order and new usefulness.

And Caleb has followed up on that observation with powerful new tagging features in Toluu. Here is what’s new:

  • Tag Tab: Clickable tab for each blog page in Toluu, with several tag related features
  • Explore by Tag: every tag is clickable, leading to a list of related blogs
  • Inline Tagging: Instantly tag a blog right from a list of blogs
  • Users’ Tags: See the tags that a user has applied within the Toluu application

All in all, the features bring a new level of sophistication and community-generated perspective to the blog recommendations. Let’s check ’em out.

Tag Tab

The tag tab is chock full of information for every blog listed in the Toluu system. Here’s a screen shot for this blog:

Tagging: The top of the Tag Tab has an entry box for entering new tags. A couple of notes:

  • Tagging is multiple word, comma separated. Yes!
  • Tags are auto-suggested, based on tags you’ve used before. This is a great feature. It makes it easier to add tags, and enforces consistency, which is so important in tagging.

My Tags: These are the tags you have already applied to a given blog.

Top Tags: These are the most popular tags applied by others to a given blog.

Related Blogs: Each Tag Tab includes a list of related blogs. These are blogs that share similar tags to the ones applied to a given blog. This makes discovering a bunch of blogs with a specific area of focus very easy.

Follow the Bouncing Tag

In fact, it gets even easier to find blogs with a specific focus. Just follow a tag where it takes you.

Notice the nice distinction above? You can see blogs with specific tags applied by anyone in the system. Or you can take a deeper dive, and see what someone you trust has tagged.

Sorting: There are four different ways to sort the list of blogs by tag:

  1. Popular = blogs are ranked by the number of times they received a particular tag
  2. Recent = sort by how recently a specific tag was applied to a blog
  3. Subscribers = sort by the number of Toluu subscribers to a blog
  4. A-Z = alphabetical

Inline Tagging

To make tagging easy and pervasive, inline tagging is supported.

As you look at your list of blogs, you can quickly tag them. I like this because it makes the tagging process fast and easy. I don’t have to go to each individual blog’s page inside Toluu to add tags.

User Profiles Now Have a Tag Story

All this tagging by users has another benefit. You can quickly see what someone is all about when you visit their profile in the Toluu system.

This is great. Toluu isn’t a full-fledged social network, but you can use it to find like-minded people. From these like-minded people, you can discover other blogs of interest.

The tags of a user are essentially a form of self-identification. Like declaring what political affiliation you have, or saying where you work. This at-a-glance insight into someone’s interests is a great way to figure out new people to follow inside Toluu.

Are You Toluu-ing Yet?

Caleb and his team have done a really great job with this new functionality. A lot of attention was paid to ease of use, and the subtleties of information discovery. He has built in the notion of discovery via the collective wisdom of crowds, or discovery via trusted information filters.

Toluu continues to innovate. Click here to see all posts tagged ‘toluu’ on this blog. It’s an impressive list of activity.

If you’re on Toluu, follow me at http://www.toluu.com/bhc3. I’ll follow back. And if you’re not yet on Toluu, I’m happy to email you an invite. Just leave a comment.

Nice job Caleb!

Applying Circuit Breakers to a Social Media Mob Mentality

Cyndy Aleo-Carreira has a good post out today, When FriendFeed Creates a Mob. The post describes the activity on FriendFeed related to a Thomas Hawk post regarding the director of visitor relations at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In case you’ve missed it, here’s a quick summary:

  1. Thomas Hawk was shooting pictures at the SFMOMA
  2. The director of visitor relationships told him to leave
  3. After pleading his case, Thomas was kicked out of the SFMOMA
  4. Thomas blogged about it, asking people to Digg the story to get it maximum attention
  5. Many people on FriendFeed dugg it, and currently the post has 3,780 diggs

In her post, Cyndy points out that we’re only hearing one side of the story: Thomas Hawk’s. I can’t blame Thomas for that. He was only blogging the incident from his point of view. That’s what blogging is about. But she and Jeremiah Owyang both argue that the use of the guy’s name and calling him a “jerk” (it was originally “asshole”) meant that the post transcended a normal beef, like Comcast not handling someone’s moving well. It was personal, not a slam against a faceless organization.

Was it a mob mentality that took hold?

For the record, I did participate in this:

I trust Thomas Hawk’s point of view, so I was comfortable with the Digg and the Like. Noting the Digg count was probably a bit much. Generally, I thought of it as an authentic telling of an event by Thomas, and wanted to show my support. But I pretty much left it there. I’m not a photographer nor have I had any problems at the SFMOMA.

Also, if the SFMOMA director came out with his own explanation of events, I’d Like that, digg it, share it. I’m not out to tar and feather the guy. Rather, there is a greater issue of individual liberties versus the protection of artists’ rights and individuals’ privacy here. A worthy area for discussion and examination, as Steven Hodson points out. I’m glad that Thomas wrote up his experience, and that it got attention. It should.

But Cyndy’s post does cause me to wonder how one would stop a mob mentality taking hold on FriendFeed, or any social media site.

When Mob Mentality Overwhelms Our Information Filters

In a recent post, I wrote about the emergence of a new role in social media: Information Filters. Particularly on FriendFeed, but on other social media sites as well, we rely on others to surface content that is interesting to us. They do this through their Google Reader shares, Diggs, direct posts, Likes, comments, etc. Some people have a natural talent for this, and they become powerful information filters for others.

I’d say that Information Filters are the primary line of defense against any mob mentality taking hold. Through the various ways they share or don’t share, Information Filters hold strong sway over the agenda of what is discussed.

What would a mob mentality look like?

  1. Our Information Filters buy-in to a “get this guy” mentality and start spreading the word as rapidly as possible
  2. The sheer volume of links, Likes and comments overwhelms the more thoughtful discourse that typically marks FriendFeed

#2 above in particular is where things get dicey. You’re no longer relying on your usual Information Filters. The frequency with which you’re seeing an issue show up becomes the measure of its importance, not the trusted referrals of your Information Filters.

Three Options for Applying Circuit Breakers to a Mob Mentality

Off the top of my head, I can come up with three ways to slow down a mob.

  1. Automatic restrictions: Like the New York Stock Exchange’s trading curbs, FriendFeed would automatically apply the brakes to a URL that gets to much play on the site. New shares of the site link stop bouncing to the top of FriendFeed. New comments and Likes no longer cause the link to bounce to the top. This, of course, would be terrible. Really good posts would have a tough time going viral.
  2. FriendFeed staffers intervene: Similar to the automatic restrictions, except it’s done manually on an ad hoc basis. This is better because truly egregious cases could be addressed, not just an “hot” story. But it puts the FriendFeed folks in a really bad position. As soon as they put the kibosh on a story, the howls of censorship would begin and the vibe of FriendFeed would tank.
  3. Our information filters exercise judgment: This is the right call. We rely on our Information Filters to find content that is interesting, sharp and correct if facts are used.

Information Filters = Circuit Breakers

As noted earlier, Information Filters are people adept at finding interesting content and sharing it. Interestingly, Mona N is exactly on of these people. She finds all sorts of unusual things that people love. I know I do. So her pumping up Thomas Hawk’s SFMOMA blog post was a case of an Information Filter saying “Hey, this is really important information for you to know and act on!”

By virtue of their role, information filters can also act as the brakes should things ever get out of control. Why?

  • They tend to have a large number of followers
  • Many of their followers are frequently reading what they share
  • The ongoing conversation they have with others establishes their “cred” when it comes to discussing new ideas, opinions and news

People who are Information Filters can simply not share whatever it is everyone else is talking about. The lack of their participation reduces some of the heat that can surround an issue. They can also more actively put a stop to an overly emotional mob that forms. With posts, comments, blog shares, etc. People will listen to them. Their participation this way can allow cooler heads to prevail.

It Is Social Media After All

On FriendFeed, Derick Valadao left a great comment on Cyndy’s post:

To those who would say behaviour like that stated in the article isn’t group think I have to disagree. We voice our opinions here on popular entries because we think it will be the right thing to say. We want to affirm the sentiments of the post (for the most part). I have yet to see a social network that can combat against this phenomenon. When we reward opinions with popularity or regard we inevitably create this phenomenon. That of why I appreciate small voices in the crowd who are willing to go against popular opinions. Now we should ask ourselves how we can build that into a social structure if we ever intend ok bringing credible interesting stories to our community.

I look to our Information Filters to play an important role in Derick’s call for a social structure. Having users, particularly those who have been “voted” as our information filters, dampen the creation of any mob tendencies fits well with the idea of social media. It is all about the users. We really should sort these things out ourselves.

It does put the onus on those who enjoy positions as information brokers to elevate their game, and to think hard about the effect they have on the people and organizations they shine a light on. Jeremiah Owyang has a new post out Tracking the Toronto Explosion on Twitter: Opportunities and Risk. I’ll close with a quote from his post:

The community (myself included) must be mindful of what’s real and what’s not, over hyping or spreading false information [that] could impact lives.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Applying+Circuit+Breakers+to+a+Social+Media+Mob+Mentality%22

What’s the Story of Your Life?

In the recent post Who Is Your Information Filter?, I noted that individuals are emerging as leaders in the distribution of information. These Information Filters have good judgment as to what their subscribers like.

But there is certainly more to the being a good filter. Here’s an example of what I mean. Dare Obasanjo wrote a post titled Giving Sh*t Away is not a Business Strategy. Eric Rice and I both shared the post on July 12. Check out the results on FriendFeed:

The Likes and comments on Eric’s share included some folks who are subscribed to me.

This is the sort of thing that I love to explore. What makes people respond to the sharing of identical content from one person, but not another?

Interactions and relationships are an important part. Robert Scoble made this point in a comment on FriendFeed.

There’s an additional factor as well. Here’s one way to describe it:

  1. Experience and passions make up your narrative, the story of your life.
  2. A narrative gives context.
  3. Context loads the information you share with meaning.
  4. Meaning draws interest by others.

This takes a little explaining.

A Lesson in Mark Rothko’s Paintings

Mark Rothko was an abstract painter, famous for paintings of rectangles (multiforms) with different colors. His life shared the drama that seems to mark many great artists. He was Jewish, and saw the persecution of Jews in Czarist Russia. His family emigrated to the United states. He was highly intelligent, rapidly advancing through school and receiving a scholarship to Yale. He divorced twice. He drank heavily. He ultimately committed suicide.

And yet he was pivotal in the abstract movement of the mid-1900s. He hated being called an “abstract artist”, but he was leader in the genre. His is a rich history of art, intellect and  experimentation.

Growing up, I’d see art like his and think, “I could paint that. What’s so special about that painting?” Typical punk kid.

But to that point, I went ahead and tried my hand at painting in the Rothko style. Below are a painting by Mark Rothko, and one by my own hand:

This was my first painting effort since middle school. Please pardon the brush strokes.

With practice, I could get the hang of the brush strokes. With time, I bet I could replicate Mark Rothko’s style pretty well.

Which would make me a hell of an abstract painter, right?

Obviously, the answer is no. Even if I could duplicate the style, no one would care. Why? I don’t have a narrative to back it up. I didn’t come up with the style, I wasn’t a participant in the abstract movement, I’m not a student of art or of Rothko, I’m not a painter.

The silly adolescent that I was didn’t want to understand that. And yet understanding the importance of Rothko’s narrative imbues his paintings so much meaning.

There is a lesson here in terms of people who shine as Information Filters.

The Information You Share Fits a Larger Narrative

The context surrounding a piece of content is an important, underestimated component of what makes it valuable to an audience. If Thomas Hawk and I were to favorite the same photo on Zooomr, I suspect Thomas’s favorite would garner more Likes and comments on FriendFeed than would mine. Which makes all the sense in the world.

Thomas is a professional photographer, shooting photos for magazines and other media. He regularly blogs about issues affecting photography. He’s the CEO of a photo sharing site. When he shares a photo, you know he “gets” a wide range of attributes for that photo:

  • Lighting
  • Subject matter
  • Angle
  • Lens
  • Dimensions
  • Etc.

Me? I’m just a dude who likes a picture. The pictures I share lack a larger narrative.

Curious about this, I took a look at my Google Reader shares on FriendFeed. Here are five that received the most attention (excluding my own blog post shares), and five with no Likes or comments:

My online narrative is really defined by this blog. So the lists above don’t surprise me. The five that fit my narrative are consistent with blogging, information consumption and distribution, and enterprise 2.0. The five that don’t fit my narrative reflect themes I generally don’t hit on here: online advertising, acquisitions, SAAS and the environment.

Does that mean I should stop sharing them? Hell no! But it does show that the people who subscribe to me have particular interests, consistent with my narrative.

Attention Paid to A-Listers: It’s Not Just Hero Worship

I do think there’s an important point to be made. Sometimes people get exasperated that something they’ve blogged about or posted didn’t get a lot of traction, while an A-Lister talks about the same thing and everyone falls over themselves to Like, comment, share the content, etc. This is generally ascribed to an overly worshipful flock. I’m sure there’s a bit of truth in that.

However, I think an overlooked element is that a lot of the well-known figures out on the web have a strong narrative.

When they share something, it’s really part of the larger narrative they’ve been sharing with a lot of people over time.

What’s Your Story?

I bring up A-Listers because its a familiar meme. But there are regular people who have a particularly strong narrative in a subject area. You see people reacting to the content they share, because it fits what they’re about.

Strong narratives make people strong Information Filters.

How about you? What’s the story of your life?

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

Who Is Your Information Filter?

This comment by Michael C. Harris on FriendFeed the other day caught my eye:

Heaps of fantastic shares from unknowns get almost completely ignored and yet Scoble shares “Scoble” and gets 50 comments

Michael is hitting on something very important. In FriendFeed, not all shared items are created equal. I’ve noticed some people are really good at getting people to click through on a shared item and start a conversation.

I think of these people as the new Information Filters. They have a knack for getting their subscribers to check out stuff they find interesting. More so than your average social media user.

Over time, a logical outcome would be this: as the Information Filters share information with their subscribers, click-throughs and comments occur on that content. Which attracts new people into the discussion. Who then subscribe to the Information Filter. Which increases the click-throughs and comments. Repeat…

Good Information Filters can find themselves with a lot of power to direct traffic, and subtly influence what others take in when it comes to information. This isn’t without precedent. Television and the web are prior examples of this.

Migration of News Consumption Habits

Both television and the web have seen changes in the way people get their news. In both TV and the web, the changes are based on the strength of someone’s personality and judgment as to what the audience wants:

In 2004, CNN reported a Pew Research Center survey of news viewing habits. The survey found that 21% of people aged 18 – 29 got their news on the presidential election from Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live. A follow-up report “Where Americans Go for News” by Pew also noted:

During these late night hours, many young people are tuning into comedy shows such as David Letterman and Jay Leno. Those under age 30 are among the most likely to watch these types of shows 17% watch Leno or Letterman regularly, compared with 8% of 30-49 year-olds and 12% of those age 50 and older.

What do Jon Stewart, David Letterman and Jay Leno offer that the traditional news broadcasts don’t? Humor, obviously. They also get to pick the most interesting news items for their shows. NBC News anchor Brian Williams noted the obligation of professional news organizations to offer news that likely doesn’t interest most audiences:

Some people call it ‘eat your peas’ journalism because it has to include everything that’s good for you to know to be a good citizen of the world. We put it out there.

In this comment, you see the larger societal obligation felt by the mainstream news media. They cover everything, even the stuff you don’t care for. There’s a tension between ensuring people get a full range of information about our multi-faceted world, and what people are willing to pay attention to.

The web has undergone a similar change in reading habits. Matt Drudge’s Drudge Report has eclipsed traditional news outlets in terms of influence. From The Telegraph’s article Matt Drudge: world’s most powerful journalist:

So much internet traffic can be directed to an item linked to by Drudge that unprepared websites have been known to collapse under the strain.

For politicians, the effect is akin to a needle injecting information into the media bloodstream. A positive story can give a shot of adrenaline to a flagging campaign. More commonly, negative information can be like a dose of poison being administered.

Drudge rose to prominence when he famously put the Monica Lewinsky story in play. Since then, his traffic has grown enormously. It’s not just about that one scoop. Drudge has a good sense about what is newsworthy. From the Washington Post blog The Fix:

The second major reason for Drudge’s influence, according to the Fix’s informal poll of Drudge-ologists is his ability to sniff out a potentially big story when others — including reporters — miss it at first glance.

“He can identify what’s a big deal even when the reporters who actually cover and report on an event don’t realize what they have,” said one GOP strategist granted anonymity to speak candidly. “He scoops reporters’ scoops.”

What do Jon Stewart, David Letterman, Jay Leno and Matt Drudge have in common?

  • They don’t actually find and report news (for the most part)
  • They only present what they find interesting
  • They have shrewd judgment as to what audiences will like
  • Their personalities are part of their effectiveness as news filters – people trust them

Each of these guys have emerged as a key Information Filter.  New social media platforms, such as FriendFeed, are starting to see the emergence of their own Information Filters.

You Are Who You Follow

This is something Robert Scoble emphasizes: you define yourself by who you follow. Early FriendFeed employee Kevin Fox described the general role of your friends on FriendFeed:

The nature of FriendFeed is that you start to think that the world is like you, because your friends shape your FF world. I think the FF world is full of Obama supporters, and other people thing it’s full of Twitterers. Pick your friends wisely because they define your FF.

In an equal world, information shared by any of your friends will merit click-throughs and discussion. But the practical reality is that some people will be more “equal” than others in terms of driving the discussion agenda. There are two highly correlated components to that:

  • Number of subscribers
  • Reputation for identifying what is interesting

The sheer number of subscribers make some people Information Filters. The big power users on Twitter: Leo Laporte, Dave Winer, Robert Scoble, Jason Calacanis, etc. These guys really drive discussions around ideas, opinions and news. If you subscribe, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the discussions they can kick off.

The reputation for finding interesting stuff is a little harder. Like Matt Drudge and Jon Stewart, you need to have a sense for what people want to know and find interesting. Some people are naturals at this, but I think anyone can learn how to identify interesting stuff.

Louis Gray is a really good Information Filter. Out of curiosity, I took at look at the last 30 Google Reader shares he put into FriendFeed. And I compared them to my last 30. I wanted to analyze the interaction around them: Likes, comments.

The chart to the right graphs the total Likes and comments for the 30 Google Reader shares of each of us. Louis is clearly good at putting things out there and having people discuss them. You’ll see the Likes and comments on his shares are double mine.

I consider Louis to be one of my Information Filters. He’s great at identifying the good stuff. And he takes this role seriously. He wrote a post Roll Your Own Blog Leaderboard with Google Reader Trends, in which he identifies the blogs he’s sharing most often.

The Effects of Our Information Filters

NBC News’ Brian Williams had this to say in response to the increasing application of personal filters to news:

Do you have a problem with people personalizing the news vs. you saying ‘these are the top stories’? Is there a danger in that if you give people too much personalization?

Williams: That’s for others to decide. I will say that if you’re using a filter, if you wake up in the morning and you have loaded up your computer, in other words to say, ‘Foreign news totally bums me out, this Iraq thing, it just ruins my day. Keep it away from me.’ Is that what [James] Madison had in mind, do you think? Is that what [John] Adams and [Ben] Franklin and [Thomas] Jefferson had in mind? Did they expect a little more informed electorate, to quote Mr. Jefferson? Did they expect a little more from us as citizens? I can’t judge people.

Democracy, on the other hand, looking at the argument, it’s their right [to filter]. I’m a lover of news and information, I’m a lover of American history, it’s my hobby. So if I had my druthers… Some people call it ‘eat your peas’ journalism because it has to include everything that’s good for you to know to be a good citizen of the world. We put it out there.

I can’t start programming the ‘NBC Nightly News’ with just the news that doesn’t bum people out. Just the news they want to see and hear. But I can’t stop someone from using filters, from using pay-as-you-go technology to get what they want. I will probably have my own opinion in a couple years about what we’ve become as a society as a result of if we stop getting the news that’s at all negative.

There’s a similar concern about over-reliance on our Information Filters in social media. That it becomes too easy to rely on what they find, and put in front of us. Robert Scoble asked a question that touched on this recently:

Hmm, how come you all like commenting on Google Reader Shared Items here in FriendFeed but you all do so little Google Reader reading yourselves?

Check it out for a good discussion around the merits of using FriendFeed exclusively for reading new blog posts.

Choose Your Information Filters Carefully

Brian Williams alluded to the “eat your peas” element of being an informed citizen. That is, take in information even when it doesn’t interest you. But that’s really fighting against human nature. We’re time-constrained, and social media has made it easier than ever to perpetuate our natural tendency to rely on the advice of friends for what is interesting.

So really, the best thing to do is to choose your Information Filters wisely.

What do you think? How do you select your Information Filters?

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Who+Is+Your+Information+Filter%3F%22&public=1