More on the Paradox of Choice

The BS report included a section on the Paradox of Choice, and the necessity for editors and filters in a world of bazillion media files.  I felt that this call for action was a bit less creative than appropriate.  The call for editor/filter is a consistent call in the media industry.  And for some odd reason, firms and applications that provide these services have had a tough time.  I figure this is the more paradoxical challenge – a sustainable market for filters.
What I meant by the editor comment has two fronts.

> On the first front.
Media companies have historically also enjoyed playing the editor/filter, or having direct access to these influential nodes of culture.  So News Corp was both a producer of books, a publisher of papers, a network of stations, etc.  Even without the inbred connections of conglomeration, the network of peeps involved in this system were closely connected.  Kinda like the Wired Mafia (or the apparent hollywood-level Mafia of my alma mater, Northwestern)- the network of individuals who worked for Wired at the origins that now consistently re-appear, often working together or influencing the attention paid to each other’s work.

As the market for being the editor/filter has fragmented, media companies face a very realistic state of uncertainty.  What was somewhat of a Pipeline, is now more like a Pachinko game.  Furthermore, retailers have stepped up into the editor/filter position, either by way of their own products, or licensed systems. As such, the editors are bit less reliable in terms of their tendency to get with the program, as it were.

> On the second front.
Recommendation systems have a had a rough life.  Part of this challenge emerges since editors/filters face the same kind of competition for attention that media companies do.  Consumers have a wide set of options, and experience media reviews in somewhat of a wall of sound.  Knowing full well that “media” is most likely an experience good, we are faced with probably hundreds of options for filters.  On one site, AggregateKnowledge is doing the work.  On another, Amazons littlee collaborative elves are tossing out useless suggestions.

The real “wisdom” in this system most likely resides in our networks of relationships.  We tend to hang out with people who have similar interests, or (oddly) usefully opposing or idiosyncratic interests.  Even if we do not always share interests, trust has been developed at a level no media company could probably attain.

You will never organize this network like labor, however.  Instead, it becomes embedded within some other service and the aggregator of people and their opinions captures the value of the crowd and (otherwise) crowded wisdom.  For the rest of us, its a sort of social exchange in which we happily participate.


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