Thursday, June 23, 2011
Twitter and Facebook: Information Crowdsourcing
One of the many aspect of the social networks like Facebook and Twitter is that of helping share and distribute filtered information in an unprecedented manner. By browsing your Facebook and Twitter accounts you get to pieces of information posted or re-posted by your friends or the people you follow which you may not have found otherwise. And since you chose your friends and who to follow, you may get exactly what you know is interesting to you, because you know it is interesting to the people who have something in common with you.
I see a clear analogy between the concept of crowdsourcing--the exploiting of little pieces work by many people--and the selection and filtering of information operated by the social media. Information and news follow a long tail distribution. There are the relatively few topics and pieces of news that many people know and follows--the short head--and a virtually infinite number of things that few people follow--the long tail. Wading through the "almost infinite" long tail without any "recommendation" and finding things you may be interested in is and impossible job. While there are automatic recommendations systems, like those deployed by Amazon and Netflix, your friends and the people you follow on social media act as a natural human recommendation system. They help you navigate to the long tail by sharing and letting you find pieces of information you may not have been able to find otherwise.