by: George Silverman
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked in my speeches and interviews is, “Don’t all the word-of-mouth tools, such as feeds, blogs, the proliferation of other web sites, etc. cause chaos? There is so much crap out there, how do people sort it out?”
It turns out that WOM is a self-improving system (much more about this concept in upcoming posts — subscribe to this feed, I think they’re going to be spectacular!!!) People become infomediaries, screeners, reviewers, etc. Tools are developed to help people sort, filter and evaluate information and sources. We are in the beginning of the Information Revolution — the means for creating and delivery have gone through the roof (word processing, voice dictation, digital cameras on the creation side, and the web, cell phones, ebooks, etc. on the delivery side). But the means to manage these have lagged. So, Google results flood us, but we haven’t developed sufficient means for sorting out all the hits.
We are now seeing – and will continue to see at an increasing rate until the problems are sufficiently solved – a great deal of energy put into the invention of information management systems, as distinct from creation and delivery systems. These are becoming spectacularly popular, such as digg and del.icio.us. While they have been getting a lot of attention, I think their significance is underestimated.
I just stumbled upon a great one that I think will be the next very big hit: StumbleUpon
It’s an add-on to Firefox or Internet Explorer, and makes the switch from Safari to Firefox a no-brainer. It installs a toolbar and when you click on its Stumble button, it takes you to a website that fits your preferences, which you can continually adjust by rating the websites. The choices are uncannily interesting. It's almost spooky. The selections are in your preferences (some of mine are marketing, magic, etc.) and they are the ones that are highest rated by other people. You can also rate web sites that you navigate to in the course of other browsing. It has built-in communities, ways of viewing other like-minded people’s selections, etc. It’s the most addicting thing I’ve found on the web in years: much better than digg and the others. It’s like having BoingBoing that is custom tailored to your interests. Beware, it’s highly addicting.