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How Personalized News is Transforming Information

How Personalized News is Transforming Information

August 16, 2012

We live in the densest, competitive media landscape in history.

How did we get here?

Let’s step back just a few years. To when receiving and processing information was easy. It was a one-way dictatorship. And everyone knew what to expect. News anchors would broadcast their messages to an eagerly listening audience watching at home. How quaint.


The sheer power of evolving media coupled with new technology is leading to an extreme loss of trust in the mainstream media. NBC’s scrappy coverage of the Olympics did not help. Their failure to recognize the digital world created a cringe-inducing PR disaster, encapsulated with the hashtag #nbcfail.


Mainstream news is finding it difficult to keep up with the times. Attention is fragmenting, and it’s getting nearly impossible to cut through the clutter. Yet most mainstream news channels pretend that this digital revolution doesn’t exist. They’re sending faxes to people who treat their fax machines worse than that scene in Office Space.


Don’t Go Office Space

The current way of consuming news is a smorgasbord of excess. Too many topics, tweets, friends, and opinions clutter our digital space. We frequently de-friend to de-clutter our feeds. Facebook’s “list” feature is a great concept in theory. But not enough people use it. Or not enough people take the time to know how to use it.

Our internet infatuation can seriously warp our perception of important events. So how do we listen to what we really need to hear? To see what we need to see?

Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride

Online activities over the years have created a social graph that now powers personalized curation. This new social layer is leading to the personalization of news – one of my top 5 predictions for 2012. And it’s all being done behind the scenes. We just need to listen and watch it do the work. Or rather, have it watch us.

Many services now tap into this social layer to get our personalized data. Interests expressed on social networks can now personalize product recommendations, news articles, and even gift ideas. We’re entering a new era of participation – one that’s more baked into our daily digital lives than the “opt-ins”of email lists, and the ‘grams on instagram (is ‘gram a verb yet? it should be). In Cognitive Surplus Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, Clay Shirky writes:

Media is how you know where and when your friends birthday is. Media is how you know what’s happening in Tehran, who’s in charge in Tegucigalpa, or the price of tea in China. Media is how you know what your colleague named her baby. Media is how know why Kierkegaard disagreed with Hegel. Media is how you know where your next meeting is. Media is how you know about anything more than ten yards away.

Whether we are conscious of it yet or not, we are all part of the media. And we’re powering personalized news delivery. What’s on your media channel?