Came across this post using one of my personalization tools – which is a little paradoxical as the post is damning of technologies that apparently inhibit “socializing”. I totally agree that any technology implemented badly will have anti-social consequences (like the car or mobile phones – just kidding). No the point is personalization can be set and allowed to ‘liberate’ – free’ing time up for true socializing, one-to-one, real time, real life – rather than too much choice, endless hours finding ‘something’ of partial interest on the global network. How to stop personalization becoming narrow in focus – click the SERENDIPITY button. I use stumble more than any other firefox feature at the moment – set your preferences wide and voila – but when I want it, not all the time, serendipity on-demand. Casting ones net wide all the time also promotes superficiality rather than deep knowledge or focus. A time for what you want, a time (in the words of Mr. Python) for something completely different. Anyway here is an excerpt from the Yahoo briefing back in February – that’s another thing is it me or what – when I see linked articles with dates on if it is more than a few weeks old I think twice about going there, what’s happened to historical perspectives…must be me then 😉
The basic problem with Personalization is that tailoring information to you limits social discovery. Users contribute value to the database only for them and the service provider, not for each other. People design algorithms outside social context, and error arises in profiling, categorization and filtering. Narrowcasting creates micro-silos as it limits a user’s view from more diverse and otherwise peripheral information compared to modes of browsing and searching. Over time, users are taught to rely upon this mode as their primary source of information. Nowhere in this mode is sharing, conversations, remixing and socializing information.
By contrast, consider how social software enables people to create their own networks. Groups form, information is shared and implicit and explicit relationships are fostered. Profiles, ties, posts, links and tags provide dimensions to explore. Spam happens as a consequence of openness, but as social networks become the new filters, it is a minor problem and yields benefits of connecting people. The appeal of personalization is sheer convenience. Today social software fails, with a few exceptions, to deliver the same level of convenience at scale, but give it time.
Posted by Gary Hayes © 2005