jueves, 29 de marzo de 2007

In Search of the Good Stuff

Somewhere along the way everyone’s tastes stray from what are the “hits” and go into “niches”. We are all interested in different things at different levels. When there was limited shelves, channels, and airtime, the depth at which we could indulge our deeper level interests was limited to what was available on the limited shelves, channels, and airtime. So people had to take what they could get and settle for less. Jeff Jarvis, in his post entitled Wither Magazines? Says, “General-interest anything is probably cursed. For the truth is that interest never was as general as editors and publishers thought it was, back in the mass-media age. Old media just assumed we were interested in what they told us to be interested in. But we weren’t. We’re proving that with every new choice the internet enables.” Once we realize that the deep stuff that truly interests us is out there somewhere, we begin trying to find something that helps us find the good stuff, as each of us defines good. And as the democratization of technology and distribution becomes more and more wide spread I know that more and more good deep stuff that I like is out there somewhere for me; I just need to find it.
Trying to find the good stuff is easier said than done. Google helps you get closer and Wikipedia helps you define it, but it still takes a lot of work. Most of the time you find corporate websites that give you recommendations based on their own agendas for making money. What you really want to find are people with the same interests as you who can recommend to you what is good. They are much more trust worthy than companies. 1,000,000 heads are better than your own at finding what you really want. Jeff Jarvis talks about this concerning his relationship with magazines, he says, “But I’m just too busy reading — or listening or watching — fresher, more focused, more personal, higher interest content on the internet. But some of that is still from or around magazines. I still have a relationship with these brands, only not always in print anymore. And even when I do still read the magazine in print, I want a relationship with the magazine — and, more important, my fellow readers — online.” That’s the trick; get recommendations from the people who are interested in the same stuff as you.
For example, I like music a lot but I am very picky with what I will listen to. But I know that the good stuff is out there somewhere waiting for me to discover it; it has to be. I go onto Myspace and listen to random bands in search of something good and rarely do I find anything of worth. My favorite bands have links to other bands in their “top 8 friends” but that provides weak results. When a band has 20,000 friends, who can you trust? At Amazon.com when you look at any product it gives you a column on the left hand side of peer generated lists of what they would recommend for those who like the product that you are looking at, but these are all really random and many times not very concise. These techniques are close but no cigar. How do I know how deep I am? Have I found everything within my niche that would be of worth to me? There has to be still more out there and I’m thirsty for it. And trying to find the good stuff goes beyond music; I also need help finding the coolest new independent digital movies, insightful blogs that talk about what I’m interested in, books worth reading, ect.
The solution would be to be part of a community of people with the same interests as you who can recommend to you what they like. Maybe a personal Facebook-like page where I blog and where members of my community blog as well. Together we sift through the vastness of cyberspace and recommend to each other where the good stuff is that we find. There would have to be someway to make it so that not just anybody could make recommendations in the community; they would have to pass a test or be referred by someone else or something. We could have our own “cool kids only” community where only the people with the best tastes-our tastes-are invited to contribute. Maybe something like this already exists?
This is what companies are being encouraged to do through radical transparency as explained in the April issue of Wired Magazine. On the topic of radical transparency, Jeff Jarvis once again says, “The point is that what you really want to do is open the windows on either side of your house and let the people standing around talk directly to each other, with or without you. You do your job, still, creating some stuff that people want to gather around. But then you enable them to share more. And now you have a new role — helping them.” So help me already.

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