Balancing Personalization

    February 17, 2005

My post on Personalization and Socialization rustled a few feathers, as intended. Susan Mernit captured the key point: customized personalization– smart, self-adjusting, filtered system–limits discovery.

Greg Linden, creator of a great Personalization portal for blogs, Findory, naturally took issue with Socialization. You can find us both taking sides, but note that all approaches are needed to derive value from the long tail: personalization, customization (how Greg describes My.Yahoo!) and socialization. Where you lay your bets is another issue.

Christopher Carfi nailed a problem statement (these are the things you pay attention to when looking for opportunities):

Being a customer in the long tail takes work.

Steve Gillmor cracked the code (he also notes I’m filtering myself, sorry Steve):

…attention AND human filtering are the disruptive intersection at which the new Web stands.
…RSS is about time, and RSS will win. Attention is about what we do with our time, and attention will win. Friends and family are about who we do it with, and we will all win.

Andrew Nachison from the API Media Center not only aptly summarizes the thread — but makes a deeper point:

Will we all win? A lot of thinking and capital flows into the quest for economic winners and losers. But if we wind up with a world no better than the one we have now – war, poverty, hunger, hate or name your social dilemma here – then RSS, social networks and fabulous new tools to create and access information, doesn’t really matter.

So my question is: among the “players” scrambling to influence the information systems of the next generation, who among them are thinking about the social outcome – about benefiting humanity? Is this the realm and responsibility of the open source movement? Bloggers and non-profit media? NGOs and governments?

Might this be the calling, the defining quality, of the new Fourth Estate?

This amplifies a point made by Dan Gillmor on the first night of the event. The grassroots energy of the newest media will undoubtedly triumph in form, but there is a danger that the function doesn’t inherit support for the public interest.

I almost see a new system of checks and balances between personalization (corporate interest, information-centric), customization (personal interest, information-centric) and socialization (social interest, relationship-centric) as memes lobby for attention.

Susan also made a key point:

He’s right again, but organic, web-like organizations don’t fit corporate structure, so we’ll see those networks grow outside and around the new tools as they’re fitted into the mainstream–and see additional tools (maybe FOAF?) radiate out from their hub.

Which brings the issue back to business models, unfortunately the topic of a future post. The difference this time is that if the business model does not account for the production of social goods, users will produce their own hubs.

Link: Original article on Personalization and Socialization

Jeremy Pepper is the CEO and founder of POP! Public Relations, a public relations firm based in Arizona, USA.

He authors the popular Musings from POP! Public Relations blog which offers Jeremy’s opinions and views – on public relations, publicity and other things.