It’s a simple truth: we gravitate toward the information we are interested in. This information sits in many different places. We access it in many different ways and we use it in infinitely more ways. In the online world these 0s and 1s are the window to our life. Information on the work we do, the hobbies we have, our family, everything. Many links to a central node of relevance. You.
As consumers of digital information we decide what is relevant to us. We are in control. We pick the content we want to read, choose the RSS feeds. We choose where and want we want to pay attention to. About 30% contribute back across all demos. Helping either to produce information, helping others find it or both. That number is growing fast. Blogs, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, these are the tools that enable a many-to-many conversation to take place. That is why tools are at the core of the sphere of digital information. This is the fundamental shift that defines 2.0.
Increasingly, it is more about the tools than the data. The value of data becomes increasingly diminished the more it gets democratized. When that happens it becomes the tools that deliver relevance that have value and can be monetized. That is why our old information models are dying and new ones are growing.
My case in point of course is Search. For the vast majority the cycle of information begins with search. It is this sphere of information that Google is leveraging to deliver PSERPS (I guess you pronounce it the same?) Personalized search results work because you are at the center of the data. Everything is linked to you either literally or figuratively, with hrefs or with cookies. Google becomes a tool that recognizes and leverages your consumption patterns and feeds you relevance. It is this relevance that has the value. In the first part of the sphere it is Google that delivers the information awareness and holds attention over discovery.
For publishers and advertisers this technology and fragmentation makes traditional means of marketing obsolete. That was clearer than ever with this year’s Super Bowl Ads. Or you can look everyday how few print ads there are. Their challenge, much discussed of late, is how to get a share of user attention when there is an avalanche of new content and information being produced each day and the information consumption universe is entirely user controlled.
Many are now buying or building their own tools. Others have tried building networks but the networks are also about the tools. Ultimately the only way to ensure success is by creating and delivering relevance to users bopping around in their own little worlds, doing what they’ve always done with information. Using it.
Thought provoking bloggers that inspired me on this subject: