Recall way back when the internet first began? Back when web portals were popular (and incredibly effective) – mainly because the general public did not know what was available in the interwebs. Then we had the relatively blank Google Homepage which empowered us to search for stuff ourselves – and we spent lots of time exploring the web, many times aimlessly. But we enjoyed that power. Now with the era of information overload firmly weighing us down, the question is: Do we need to go back to the concept of “portals”, where information is curated and pushed back to us in neat little consumable morsels? Think of Pinterest… it’s an aggregation tool for cool stuff to ogle, think of Twitter, it’s also an aggregation tool for cool stuff to read. Even Facebook groups our friends together.
So, let’s set the stage here:
A collection of pin boards that contain images, links, videos, that correlate with your interests.
You manually set thing up early in the process, periodically adding content to your boards, over the months, and you revisit those boards time and time again. You can even follow (or subscribe) to other boards you like. Essentially, you manually set up a system that facilitates content curation, and you connect to other peoples boards, who have also spent time curetting their own content. Essentially, this saves you countless hours of searching the web for that very same content – after all, that content exists on the web, now you just have easy, very well organized access to it. In short, you joined a team of curators… you’re an employee of the system. You work for your benefit, and the benefit of the community at large. Gasp… it’s… it’s socialist! ; ) Ok, moving on.
A messaging system that enables sharing thoughts and links to content – all of which usually communicate some sort of thought.
In this case you link to people that you find interesting, they periodically add content (content that you presumably would be interested in, or else you would not have linked to them). You also periodically contribute content to that messaging system, perpetuating the content creation/content sharing cycle. This content includes announcements, ideas, thoughts, news items, pictures, video clips, etc.
A lifestyle / social connection tool, presumably of people you actually know. Though, that’s not always the case.
With Facebook, you link to people you (presumably) know. Everyone in the system shares varying degrees and amounts of personal and non-personal information such as interests, likes, dislikes, recommendations, thoughts, ideas, pictures, videos, news items, the weather, their exercise habits, relationship status changes, and pictures of their dogs.
With all these aggregators in the world, the burden is on us to log into each of these, rummage through a particular experience, then shift to another platform where we navigate yet another user experience for some other type of stimulation.
The Common Denominator?
The common denominator here is us: you, me, him, her… we are all individual units forced to log into many platforms. Why can’t we have everything we want on one screen? Why do I have to log into countless separate platforms to see news, friends thoughts, pictures of what people had for breakfast, shopping deals, even traffic patterns for my drive to work? When you think about it, we as web users, as consumers of information are forced to do a lot of work inputting the same information over and over again, communicating the same intent over and over again, repeating mechanical patterns on a daily basis, sometimes numerous times per day. We spend too much time waiting for things to load and there is too much information repeated, disconnected, and in many cases sits inaccurate with little or no incentive on our part to correct it. We’re fatigued, and rightfully so, on the grand scale it’s incredibly inefficient.
Enter Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO.
Q4 2012 growth was positive for Yahoo!, with $1.2 billion in revenue. They are on the uptick at a rate of 4% year over year; including a 26% increase in the last 6 months. Marissa’s goal: improve engagement, with the key being personalization. People are creatures of habit, those habits are best seen (and recorded, thanks to analytics) on the web. From the speed at which we move our mouse, to the amount of time we spend on a page, or when we hover over an image we find interesting or we highlight the text we are reading before we scroll down the page (you know, so you don’t lose your place – you do it too)… to looking at the weather only when it’s not explicitly sunny in the exact location where we are standing (really, I know someone who wanted to create a hyper-local weather app: Is it raining in my 3 block radius? – and guess what? That data is already available). So if we are creatures of habit, and the interwebs know our habits, why then, doesn’t the web personalize itself for us… like… artificial intelligence?
It looks like Marissa Mayer is aiming for that for Yahoo!, a one stop shop for every bit of content you consume, personalized specifically to you. Here’s the kicker, how do you do it for mobile, using platforms (iOS, Android, etc) that are not yours? Marissa might have the answer. We’ll see, I’m hopeful.
Here is a video where Marissa Mayer is chatting with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland:
For a look at what Yahoo is up against, check out The Age of the Platform. Published in 2011, this is a modern look at the state of the online business community and how companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google are fundamentally rethinking how they do business, creating vibrant ecosystems and, in the process, reaping big rewards. Notice… Yahoo! is not in that list.
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