We're Beholden to the Feed


And the gatekeepers of today are the algorithm. 

You see, today is about what shows up in front of you in any given stream.

We watch whatever is on Netflix. 
We listen to whatever is on our Discover Weekly Playlist. 
We wait for the Times to tell us about what’s important.  

So anything that is history is history. Well, until it floats back in front of our ever seeking eyes...

And we don’t miss that which we miss.

Are you sad that you missed 2,500 tweets last night?
What about the 120 Instagram posts that you just missed over last two hours?

Every day they pass us by. 
If I didn’t see it, it’s not important. 

I feel way more confident telling people I don’t watch Game of Thrones, because I watch the Great British Bake off, so hey, you’re missing out too. 

But the truth is neither of us are. Because it’s a golden age. The ideas, products, and delights are endless. 
The human condition is about constant growth and consumption. And when what we love is digital, free, and widely spread, it’s an all you can eat buffet. Our appetite for the new is endless. 

So, I haven’t dug into the history or archives, although I could, if I wanted to. 

So, I missed that hit show on Hulu, but I’m too busy binging that which dropped yesterday on HBO.

So, I missed your tweets yesterday, but thanks to Buffer I know you’ve got more in the queue. 

Where do we go from here?

First, distribution still reigns. Trust still reigns. 

We go to trusted sources to provide a drinkable jet of water from the firehouse. 
So sign me up, and if I like what you curate, I’ll come back for more. 

The opinions of those that we trust outweighs our rationality – it’s a coping mechanism for our overstimulation. 

But if it doesn’t cross my desk, if there hasn’t been a referral, I’ll likely skip it.

Remember time is our scarcest resource.

Second, algorithms and personalization are here to stay.

We’re selfish in our consumption. The right idea at the right time is a beautiful thing. 

In fact I’m all about timing and context. You don’t want your Spotify to throw on a live Dead show right as you lean in for the kiss. Instead Spotify should note the time of day, note what was played before, maybe even interact with your surroundings to detect the low lighting and suggest some smooth jazz.

The smart home and smart hardware revolution will be about personalization.

Third, play to the people who have heard about youand want to hear about you again. The battle for new faces is a difficult one. Better to play to the crowd who showed up and blow them away so that they convert there friends.

If you had been away on vacation you would have likely missed this email. 

You selected it out of the dozens or hundreds of other possible items.

And for that, I thank you.

The Great British Bake Off