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November 11, 2009

Information Consumption and the Real-Time Web – SEM Synergy Extras

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On today’s episode of SEM Synergy, Bruce Clay, Inc.’s weekly podcast on WebmasterRadio.fm, I interviewed the CEO of a newly launched search engine and aggregator that seeks to bring search up to speed — at least to a pace that’s as fast as the Internet evolution.

slide from LeapFish product launch PowerPoint slide

LeapFish is a Web search aggregator that has been designed with the new Web in mind, culling content from traditional, social and real-time Web sources into a customizable interface that acts as a dashboard for the Web.

The recent public launch of LeapFish boasts a number of features that help users search and share content across popular sites, locate real-time content and create a custom search experience fitting of online life today.

Founder and CEO Ben Behrouzi was our guest and I had a chance to ask him about LeapFish and what benefits can be found in a customizable Web dashboard that integrates social, real-time and rich-media content.

As Ben explained, significant changes have come about thanks to social networking and community platforms. We can receive breaking news as it happens. Everyone has the power to be an online publisher. Rather than rankings calculated by machines, our trusted contacts, colleagues and friends act as information filters, sharing only the highest quality content that strikes a chord with like-minded friends and followers.

Add to all that the ability to feed social media content, along with traditional search and rich media, directly into a search engine or aggregator through APIs and other technologies, and it’s clear why a robust Web search and aggregation experience is the next logical development for search.

There’s no doubt that we’ve become increasingly dependent on our online social networks to provide us with breaking news, product or service recommendations, and the most worthwhile opinions and analysis. But what’s on the flip side of our info consumption?

There’s a weak link in the honor system that real-time content sharing relies upon, and this point was highlighted by last week’s tragic events at Fort Hood. In NSFW: After Fort Hood, another example of how ‘citizen journalists’ can’t handle the truth, TechCrunch blogger Paul Carr uncovered the dark side of real-time content: the lack of accuracy and the sensationalized nature of unverified reports from the scene. Carr writes:

Unsurprisingly, Moore’s coverage was quickly picked up by bloggers and mainstream media outlets alike, something that she actively encouraged by tweeting to friends that they should pass her phone number to the press so she could tell them the truth, rather than the speculative [BS] that was hitting the wires.

There was just one problem: Moore’s information was [BS] too.

While the Internet has ushered in new means of communication and commerce, the unreliable nature of word-of-mouth communication is nothing new. It’s gone by other names: gossip, rumor, hearsay. The risks of trusting flawed info are familiar and something we deal with everyday. The Internet simply magnifies the issue.

Sure, misinformation can be written off as something easily corrected down the line. But our brain power is a limited resource.

With so much information available at our fingertips today we find ourselves spending additional time and resources to consider the source of content. There are incredible technologies now available and we can decide what to engage with, but the heightened access requires us to be ever-more discerning of our information intake.

oysters
CC BY-SA 2.0

Super brain Frank Schirrmacher raises the comparison of information consumption to food intake (among other heady, enlightening ideas):

I think it’s very interesting, the concept — again, Daniel Dennett and others said it — the concept of the informavores, the human being as somebody eating information. So you can, in a way, see that the Internet and that the information overload we are faced with at this very moment has a lot to do with food chains, has a lot to do with food you take or not to take, with food which has many calories and doesn’t do you any good, and with food that is very healthy and is good for you.

When it comes to the object of our attention and brainpower, learning is a lot like eating. Culture, experience and personal taste play a big role, though through the Web and progressive technologies, the whole world is now our oyster. With increased access to the expanding Web, we have a dual opportunity to broaden our taste buds and to be picky connoisseurs. As the saying goes, you are what you eat.

Thank you to Ben Behrouzi and LeapFish for joining us on the podcast today. You can read more from Ben on his blog benbehrouzi.org and follow him on Twitter, @benbehrouzi.

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6 responses to “Information Consumption and the Real-Time Web – SEM Synergy Extras”

  1. Mark Kithcart writes:

    Virginia, Thank you for having Ben on your show SEM Synergy on Webmaster Radio today.

    Ben enjoyed the interview and we wanted to thank you for the opportunity to speak with you about Information Consumption and the Real-Time Web.

    Mark Kithcart
    Director of Marketing and Client Services
    LeapFish.com

  2. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Thanks, Mark! It was a pleasure and a great opportunity to think about the new Web we’re living with today. :)

  3. Melody writes:

    Great post regarding the changing definition of online search. There are some interesting new companies popping up in the real-time web space.

    “While the Internet has ushered in new means of communication and commerce, the unreliable nature of word-of-mouth communication is nothing new.” I totally agree, which is why it’s important to have a balance of reliable news and as-it-happens as well. In addition to tapping into Twitter, the real-time discovery engine YourVersion also brings each user the latest News, Blogs, Webpages, Videos and Products tailored to their specific interests or keywords. There is also a free iPhone app for discovering on the go and an optional Firefox toolbar (with one-click share functionality… email, twitter, facebook, and live bookmarking).

    We’re starting to see a new category of sites – discovery engines – emerge to better meet the use case of recurring discovery of new, relevant content within a user’s topics of interest. YourVersion brings the real-time element to discovery. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to check out YourVersion: http://www.yourversion.com/

    Thanks again for your post!

  4. ricwesley writes:

    This is nicely done man! Indeed, learning is a lot like eating. I have my own online business and I have yet to learn new stuffs when it comes to hiring virtual office support services. I have to learn the trend on SEM and many more. Hehe..

  5. Porsche Nguyen writes:

    Virginia-

    Super post on this new online search tool. Always nice to get Bruce Clay, Inc’s take on all these new search firms spouting up all over the place.

    In today’s inter-connected web world, being invisible in search engine results can have a negative impact on brand reach, site traffic, sales, etc.

    That’s why we created Heardable. It’s a real-time social search listening platform that scores a brand’s online efforts and provides lots of juicy marketing insights into a brand’s online performance. Type in any URL to get your free Heardable Score. You should try it!

    Check it out at http://www.Heardable.com

    Peace out,
    -Porsche

  6. Sency writes:

    great post – there has been a lot of innovation in this space, today business insider did an article covering the space

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-five-real-time-startups-you-need-to-know-2009-12



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