The period from about 1995 to 1997 was all about browsing. The information that was not only relevant to me but also important to me as an information consumer was pretty limited. Even though there were millions of pages to see, I was able to find the ones that I actually really needed by typing in the domain of the source that I required.
Enough material formed online by the late 1990’s to necessitate aggregate views of things for the information consumer. The ratio of unusable crap to important information was pretty bad. So, portals were created to help me navigate to things that mattered to me.
By 2000, there was so much content on the Internet that the portals were unable to provide a comprehensive view of everything that might matter to me. Massive indexing efforts became very important. The ratio of crap to value was still bad, but the universe of valuable information reached new levels. There was something for everyone out there. It seemed that if you had any question or need that there was a solution somewhere on the Internet. The demand for quicker access to the important things put the search engines in a very powerful position to mediate the information consumption transaction.
In economic terms, the supply of important information to any one individual was great enough to warrant a price for access to it. That price was the quest itself. Search engines were able to locate the needle in the haystack but not without a lot of coaxing from the seeker, an acceptable pain point given the demand for the result.
Now we’ve come to a point where the supply of valuable information has overcome the demand. There is relevant stuff out there for every moment of the day. And the competition for my attention as an information consumer is getting tougher all the time. There are multiple sources for weather data, stocks, what to buy in any given situation from whom and for how much, how to get places, people’s opinions on everything, research on anything, etc. A moment in your day doesn’t pass without an information source being readily available to serve you.
The new era is about streamlining information sources for consumers. It’s not that demand for relevant and personalized information fell. I believe the opposite is true. But the supply has increased even faster, putting the information consumer in a power position.
It’s no surprise then that people jumped to RSS to control information flow. We are telling the creators of information that we want filters, we want flow control, and we want those controls in our own hands. It’s the era of syndication and subscriptions. I’ll tell you what information I want, and then you come find me with the right data in the right place at the right time.
This fundamental change in the relationship between information consumers and publishers could play out in any number of ways. The publishers are going to have to work harder to make their data easily consumable and available in different ways. That means microformats, open databases, RSS, APIs, etc. The good news is that I think people will be forthcoming with their needs. They will show in their behavior and by the explicit relationships they create what kinds of things they want and when they want them. The trick is to listen carefully and to answer swiftly.
|Matt McAlister :: How changes in supply and demand for important content made RSS so relevant|
|Excerpt:||Matt McAlister :: How changes in supply and demand for important content made RSS so relevant "It’s no surprise then that people jumped to RSS to control information flow. We are telling the creators of information that we want filters, we w...|
|Posted:||Wed Sep 28 08:23:27 EDT 2005|
|Are you surfing more?|
|Excerpt:||so I was reading Matt’s entry about how about how the supply and demand of information has changed from ‘surfing’ the web finding useful information|
|Posted:||Wed Sep 28 16:40:14 EDT 2005|
|The failure of RSS readers|
|Excerpt:||There have been a few challenges out there to the idea that people will consume more content in the future because of RSS. Some of the arguments are:Only info junkies want more contentMost people will only track a limited set of news sources, pro...|
|Posted:||Fri Sep 30 12:44:59 EDT 2005|
|How the direct mail business can inform attention models|
|Excerpt:||I opened the mailbox at our new home last weekend just checking to see what it looks like, I guess, certainly not expecting to find any mail. To my surprise there were two pieces of mail addressed to me, both junk mail. The first was from a...|
|Posted:||Tue Nov 01 13:00:00 EST 2005|
|The "Come to Me Web" school of design|
|Excerpt:||I really like Thomas Vander Wal's "Come to me Web" post where he contrasts that with the "I go get Web". He talks about web design being about usability, not information reading."Many of us as designers and developers have embraced "user-centered...|
|Posted:||Fri Feb 03 13:14:56 EST 2006|