Winning the attention lottery - nice blog piece -
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Author Topic: Winning the attention lottery - nice blog piece  (Read 2296 times)
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« on: August 18, 2006, 06:47:25 PM »

Mark at ChezLark comments on Seth Godwin's Blog today and both capture what i fear is wrong with the web today:

Driving the car yesterday, I realized that I haven't listened to any of my Elvis Costello records in a while. The reason, it turns out, is that they hadn't been picked out for me by the magic of shuffle. I've got enough music on my hard disk that some of it has become invisible.

The same thing is true, times a million, with websites. Every blog, every site is invisible... until it comes up on shuffle. The shuffle of reddit or digg or a cross-reference in someone else's rss feed.

The page that Ron and I did was #1 on Digg and Delicious yesterday, at least for a little bit. And the traffic was huge. It really is like winning the attention lottery.

And that's what has happened to all of us. The local newspaper never had to worry about an attention lottery--everyone in town read the paper. Today, because it's become molecuralized, our attention flits around, shuffled by one automated (or handbuilt) editor or another.

Lark says:
This is actually bad, I think. The current crop of meta-portals like reddit, digg, et al are mass-popularity contests, and mass-popularity contests seem to always end up emphasizing flashy novelty, curious factoids, inflammatory extremism, or tales of freakish happenings or people.

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« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2006, 04:35:10 PM »

Once again good points, but the question remains: what to do about it? Ultimately what is "interesting" to people is what will succeed. The 2nd article links to a site that is supposed to use a "better system for determining news/good content". Unfortunately I found the majority of its story links to be fairly uninteresting and not really worth my time. Now this is just a brief sampling of the moment, so it doesn't necessarily say much. But a brief review of Reddit and Digg showed me things I was much more interested in.

Although I do agree with many of the points raised in these and similar articles, I also feel like they are almost as bad as those on the other side, promoting Digg, et al as "the future of the web". They are both extremes, imbalanced, over the top. I think these articles tend to exaggerate the problems with Digg, etc. and to use hyperbolic "examples" of problematic content or themes, while the other side does the same in reverse. Neither is right.

Ultimately we may simply be fighting against human nature though. Whether it's "good for us" or not, the most popular media these days does seem to be some of the "dumbest". It's not that there isn't good, intelligent media available - I wouldn't say that the media has been dumbed down recently per se - it's more that what suceeds or gets the most attention is usually the stupider or less useful stuff. It is this problem - the real popularity of mindless content - that is truly being railed against, and it is not a problem unique to the Internet by any means. So I think if nothing else these sorts of articles may be pointing the finger the wrong direction. The problem is perhaps even cultural. And how do you deal with *that*? cheesy

- Oshyan

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