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