Keep your news stream relevant and avoid the filter bubbles

Once again I’m convinced that you only need to monitor news that are related to what you are doing. This ensures that your incoming news stream to have more signal than noise and are more actionable. In addition, you will need to know that algorithmic “filter bubbles” are working behind Google searches, Facebook updates, Twitter walls, and even Google Reader home page.

News Anchor was a big help in discovering important news that we’ve made a significant decision on. Mainstream media did not help in this area, since all they publish are only the sensational non-relevant stuff. Google Reader also didn’t help since it notices my lazy side and “helpfully” created a filter bubble that kept feeding me with articles from rumor sites (probably the algorithm was created to be well-intentioned, but ended up to be limiting my field of vision).

Recently we made the decision for further expansion to Android platform instead of Blackberry. Originally, we thought Blackberry was a good way to go since there are untapped markets in South East Asia (primarily Indonesia) that almost nobody else is looking. We had confidence that the viral effect of Blackberry Messenger (BBM) service should keep RIM’s product alive in the near future.

That is until RIM themselves decided to support Android apps in their upcoming tablet, the PlayBook.

I mean, it’s OK if a third party is creating a plug-in for Blackberry users to run Android apps. Like for example a $20 or so “Android Run-Time” application that consumers can buy and install in their devices to access applications in the Android App Market (similar to what StyleTap are doing).  The more the merrier, isn’t it? But the very fact that the component is coming from RIM shows that they are losing confidence of their own platform.

Some of you who remember OS/2 know that this is history repeating itself.  It is Win-OS2 all over again.

OS/2 was an advanced desktop operating system from IBM, very much high-tech for the PC at the time it was introduced (early 1990s). The problem is that there weren’t many applications written for it. Therefore, IBM decided to support a competing platform, Windows 3.x, by including a stripped-down version of it to run Windows applications under OS/2. After a few years, Windows grew to become popular along with 3rd party application support, became relatively stable and capable 32-bit operating system and then OS/2 wither and dies.

If this is going to play out the same way as with RIM’s platform, I don’t want to be caught helpless in a sinking ship. I mean, I feel that it is OK to develop for a niche platform, as long as it has loyal and steadily growing user base that buys 3rd party applications.

Google Reader didn’t help much to discover this news of RIM deciding to support Android.  Apparently, it tries to display more articles of the feed that you click the most in its home page. It looks like Google Reader noticed that I tend to click rumor feeds more often, and thus it fills my Reader home page with MacRumors, Mr Miyagi, and other kind-of-crap feeds whenever I open it.  Apparently Eli Pariser’s Online Filter Bubbles argument is also valid for Google Reader.

News Anchor greatly helps in this area since it composes news shows that are more balanced as instead of to trying to guess what I need like what Google Reader does. News Anchor always composes the episodes with the correct ratio of stuff as according to my recipe, and won’t try to feed my lazy side.

In conclusion, it’s easy to get trapped in so much noise of the mainstream media and in the filter bubbles of online media. Newsreaders with built-in ranking engines may have the undesirable effect of displaying more of the same stuff that you’ve been clicking on and at the end limiting your world-view. News Anchor can help you mitigate these effects by presenting with relevant actionable news as according to what your conscious self have determined beforehand.

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