Applying degrees of separation to content

Content. There’s far too much of it. There is no barrier to making it. There’s no cost attached to doing so. And worst of all you don’t have to be very good at making it. Monkeys on typewriters could produce it. So we rely on search engines to order it for us. Only they have a commercial agenda – they are also advertisers, and publishers. So they use the data they collect from searches and from sending spiders around the world wide web to index it. To make it easier for advertisers to reach customers when they are in the moment.  That means more clutter not less.  More advertisers bidding to get my attention.  The assumption being that while I am in the market I am fair game for everybody. that is a recipe for being overwhelmed.

So in conversation with Verity Johnston of Amp an idea emerged about whether it might be possible to apply filters using the 6 degrees of separation principle. The 6 degrees of separation concept means that according to statistical calculations you are no more than 6 people (friend of a friend of a friend etc) from everyone on the planet. Only thanks to digital media they reckon that figure is falling towards 4 degrees of separation.  Could the 6 degrees be applied to content as well as people.

Let me explain. Linked in is full of management speak posts about a depressingly small number of topics which have already been much written about.  That is what I would consider to be content 1.o. Its within reach.  It has been put in front of me because there is an assumption that I am going to be interested by virtue of my job descrition. The articles I read and comment on and those I write.   What I need with content 1.0 is a filter rather like a search engine. Which means that once I have seen my obligatory CRM, social media,  customer centric article – then for a period of say a week I don’t have to be bombarded with the other ones which are also content 1.0.  Notice that I have allowed for fractions because it becomes like a library classification system and more sensitive as a result.

Content 2.0 is where the most interesting content can be found

degrees of separation 2Content 2.0 is the sweet spot. Its the best one by the way for getting a new job. Your friends know about the same jobs that you know about. At one degree of separation they may be very supportive but they are not a lot of use. Friends of your friends at 2 degrees of separation on the other hand are much more useful. Because they know about jobs that your friends don’t know about. One of the best uses for Linked in is finding about opportunities from contacts of contacts who you don’t actually know. There are way more of them than your friends but they extend your nextwork. What is the content equivalent of this. Well if I am a Real Madrid supporter  I suppose content 2 would be anything about Spain on the one hand. Or football on the other. But not about Real Madrid.  So if I turn out to be a Real Madrid supporter and I am not Spanish then a Spanish wine or a Parador hotel might be interesting content for me. So might Lazio or Bayern Munich. So content which is actually interesting because it builds on  what I already know but offers me something new.

Content 3.0 I will call aspirational themes. Branded content I find interesting and am willing to go public about that I like it and endorse it.  I may not be that involved with it. But its a chance for advertiers to pitch to me. With a fair likelihood of success.  But this is about advocacy and conspicuous consumption.

Content 4.0

I will call private interests. Things I am interested in but I don’t want to broadcast. It might be a medical condition. It might be my sexual preferences.  Based on browsing history these can be immensely ueseful for content providers and advertisers but it is unwise to make a full frontal approach.

Content 5.0 is whatever isn’t in the other 5 levels. Things so different from my interests it doesn’t make a lot of sense putting them in plain sight but I would’t be offended if you did – just bemused.  But if I did want something completely different. Content 5 is where I would find it. Though it would be a bit of a needle in a haystack.

Content 6.0 is my rejection list – the topics that make me mad. Daily Mail for non daily Mail readers! This is content that really should not be served up to me under any circumstances because the adverse reaction is less about what is being offered than being the sort of person who might be offered this – what sort of person do you think that makes me out to be?!   So should not be shown.

Can we have less content 1.0? a LOT less

So to summarise I want a limited amount of content 1.0. I would prefer a lot of my content to be content 2.0. 3.0 and 4.0 are useful territories for brands and advertisers to attract my attention. And content 5 is ok for random ness sake. Sometimes we find that interesting!

I am suggesting that there would be grounds for a search engine to filter for these levels. And to make it easy for me to find things from different levels if I wanted to look.  I think there is still far too much content 1.0 perhaps that is the fault of linked in’s architecture.  I am not forced to visit every single Google entry of the hundreds of thousands available to me. But the content platforms don’t allow that kind of filtration.  But it would be great to be able to search for content 2.0.

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