The NYT has a look at the Peter Gabriel-backed recommendation service The Filter. The idea is that, like many other services out there, Filter monitors what you consume via your computer and then recommends other stuff you might like to consume – theoretically, stuff that cost money.
“Users must still download the Filter software to their desktop, where it spies on… er, digests various streams of Internet behavior (the music and videos they keep in iTunes, their streaming and browsing history, etc.). Users can also connect with their friends on the service and track their media-consuming behavior. UPDATE: The company says the download is optional but provides richer recommendations.”
Peter Gabriel definitelty sees this as part of the “Curator” movement:
“In this age, where the curator is becoming just as important as the creator, the disc jockey becomes the life jockey,” Mr. Gabriel said. “You carry this around with you as a tool that is available 24 hours a day to help you make choices.”
Of course, one has to wonder just how agnostic a service like this can be if the real goal is to make money. Unless there is some sort of separation between Curator and Sponsor there is such a great danger of certain products or shows or bands being pushed because that’s what the Sponsor wants to sell, not because that’s what you want to buy.
This ends up being just more targeted advertising – something many people really do see as a service. However, many others find it simply intrusive.
Either way, I just don’t think there is anything about Filter that’s new and exciting. If it weren’t backed by Peter Gabriel I doubt the story would have made the Times.
The curator topic keeps coming up and for good reason – somebody has to sort through the vast flow of videos posted by the millions to the web each day and tell me which ones I need to watch.
Of course, who picks makes a big difference (or it should) and every viewer has a different set of needs/wants.
So, there is demand and supply and thus, a lot of people who want to link the two for, one imagines, eventual profit. This might be the tricky part.
The lastest entry into the web video curation game is Modern Feed. NewTeeVee had a look:
“Modern Feed basically connects users to an index of some 25,000 videos that have been determined to be high quality by an editorial staff. It’s a lot of TV content with some original online productions sprinkled in. The company has raised “a little less than $3 million” in angel funding and has a staff of 30, about two-thirds of which are tasked with curating content. That seems like overkill to me.”
I’m not sure if that number of curators is overkill considering the potential amount of video that needs attention but it doesn’t strike me as especially valuable in terms of a service if the majority of the content is well-known TV show clips. That’s the easy part.
I wrote some (here, here) about the rising prominence of digital curators and how they are becoming a major force in driving web traffic.
I guess the term came up a bunch at this week’s PSFK conference, enough so that Grant McCracken brought it up in his blog a couple of days ago:
“Having been a curator once, my ears always perk up at the mention of the term I am pleased that the term has taken on new meanings and new currency, that it has escaped the dusty corners of a museum and gallery world. It and me, both. Still, I wonder what this term is now being asked to mean, and why we should now find it now so compelling and fashionable.”
He makes some very interesting points and his perspective as a classic curator is great.
Since its inception, there has been a general sense that the internet was a free zone. A few sites have had some success with subscription models but for the most part people expect to get their info for free when it comes to online.
That begs the question, just what will people pay for online? One area that shows some true potential is in services geared toward parents. One such site is discussed on CNet:
“KidZui, a subscription-based browser that will cost parents $9.95 a month or $99.95 a year, offers a cordoned-off Internet for kids that features hundreds of thousands of reviewed sites, images and video for kids age 3 to 12. KidZui (pronounced kid-ZOO-ee) plans to open its service Wednesday after roughly three years of development. ”
The combination of curation and trustworthiness is really smart. While most folks are willing to take a risk when surfing, they don’t feel the same way about their kids. As long as this service delivers what it promises, it seems well worth the cost.
YouTube is currently far-and-away the leading UGC video site and it is a well-known fact that having your video featured on the front page of the site drives 1,000’s of views a video might never have received. This boost can sometimes even launch the videos creator or star to a new level of “fame” and even be the first step toward bigger things.
This means that whoever choses the featured YouTube videos has a great deal of power. YouTube has never revealed who wields that power, until now…
Tilzy: “Before now, there wasn’t really any way to be sure. YouTube would announce the temporary bestowal of their editorial privileges and visitors to the homepage would have to guess if Michael Gondry actually likes that Hot For Words chick, or if her etymology and assets were appealing to someone else behind the scenes.
Along with personalized homepages and an alleged upcoming update to video quality, YouTube is also now letting viewers know who’s curating its frontpage.”
The power of the curator can be pretty huge depending on the audience.
Some commentary from Mashable about NextNewNetworks deciding to syndicate to MySpaceTV. More and more content distributors are realizing the need to actually use the internet for what it is designed for – mass distribution and copying – instead of trying to force it into old models of media behavior.
The big question is, if all the current distributors begin to cross-pollinate and I can find the same things everywhere I look, what is the fate of sites designed around the idea of drawing traffic directly to them.
As tools for “curating” (see my earlier post) expand and I can self-design a “site” that collects everything I want to see and consume, thus saving me the trouble of surfing completely, i think there will be a major shift in the relationship between content creators and those in the role of distributor.
Great piece in Micro Persuasion on the idea of the need for, a growth of, the Digital Curator.
“Information overload makes it difficult to separate junk from art. It requires a certain finesse and expertise – a fine tuned, perhaps trained eye. Google, memetrackers such as Techmeme and social news sites like digg are not curators. They’re aggregators – and there’s a big difference.”
Goes on to further define what a Digital Curator is and the role they will play in our futures.