RESHARE:why you probably don't see, what you want to see+Eve A
makes some excellent points
This is worth the few minutes of reading time
Reshared text:Attention: This is a TL;DR kind of post, explaining why I visited your profiles and plussed and commented on 10 to 15 posts of you. It’s because I want you back in my stream.What is this #plusphuck about?
Yesterday, many of you in my circles noticed, that I have gone through their profiles and plussed your posts and sometimes even left a comment. It took me hours (yes, I have no life outside G+). As some shared screenshots of their notifications with my plussing in a row, it may have struck some of you as odd and made you wonder what this was all about. It wasn't, as one commenter on someone's post meant, a self-marketing strategy. Far from that. It was an attempt to get you back into my stream
. Let me explain!Something goes wrong on G+
.The problem is twofold
I know that many complained about how disrupted the stream is. This, so I think, has to do with the tinkering or implementation of the tinkering to (hopefully) better our G+ experience (i.e. adding new features, bug fixes and the like). While this is annoying at times, we know that it is temporary.
However, there is something else going on on G+, that really troubles me. It's something mythical, called the relevance algorithm
, mythical because no one knows, how it exactly works, and sometimes it is even denied that it is at work. I know that my knowledge about algorithms is close to zero, but I have eyes in my head and a brain to make sense of what I see. and I see that my stream is narrowed down to those people I interact with the most. I didn't make that choice; it was made for me.Semantic search and filtering+David Amerland
not long ago posted about semantic search and the algorithms applied to accomplish that search (http://goo.gl/JBcnXr
). He pointed out something very important, namely that without indexing and filtering, it would not be possible to find anything. He also criticizes Eli Pariser's 'filter bubble' video (http://goo.gl/OfMHU
), explaining:A ‘filter bubble’ of any description comes with the hyper-loaded subtext of control. Someone, somewhere (even a blind, algorithm) is making decisions for us, choosing what to let us ‘see’ and ‘hiding’ other stuff from us.
He goes on pointing out that this has always been the case,In the pre-internet world mechanisms of selection and sorting went along the lines of: alphabetical indexes, book reviews, library shelving schemes and card catalogues, encyclopedias, anthologies and digests, books of quotation and concordances and gazetteers. Newspaper editors acted as a filter of sorts, choosing what to put into a “daily news cycle” and what to leave out, shaping what we saw and guiding our thinking – and we thought nothing of that.
I agree with him, that we are facing information overload more than ever and that there has to be an indexing and filtering of this information. Its primary goal, at least in my naive thinking, should be to separate the wheat from the chaff and leave us with the relevant information, which is subjective obviously (just look at all the memes on the Internet) and provide us with what we are searching for, creating a personalized filter for us. Not many know that they can turn off that feature, a choice I love to have.What has this all to do with G+?
Like i said before, semantic search and filters make sense when digging the Internet for relevant information. Where I have trouble with this kind of thinking is, when an algorithm narrows down my stream on G+ by determining from my interactions on other people's posts, what I want to see in my stream and what not. The algorithm detects my plusses and comments on someone's posts and correctly extrapolates from the frequency with which I repeat these actions, that I like this person's posts and, thus, shows me more of this person’s posts.
On G+, it starts to backfire then, when the algorithm wrongly assumes that I don’t want to see posts that I don't plus or comment on, and therefore pushes them over the edge in a rather short time (yes, it took me a while to notice that). Sometimes, I don’t plus or comment, because I don’t have the time or the cognitive capacity to deal with a post, but still want to have access to that information in general and without extra effort.
On the other hand, not every post made by a single person is of interest to me. Some people tend to be quite prolific in their posting behavior, which can become rather annoying, because it takes effort to find the occasional hidden gem in a flood of uninteresting posts. If the majority of what someone posts isn't of interest to me in one way or another, I uncircle that person. Circles are here for a reason
Herein lies the beauty of G+ or any other social network that I know. Connections, once established, aren't set in stone. People are free to add other people to their circles and also dismiss them again for whatever reason. So why impose an algorithm on us when there already is a functioning system in place?
G+ has set a limit for the number of connections we can make within our own profile, namely 5,000 people and pages. It’s up to the users, who they are going to circle or not. Many of us have drawn on that well in the beginning and circled up to the max, only to discover later, that such an information load is hard to handle (do you remember when the home stream run so fast, that you couldn't get hold of a post? Yeah, right?). What people then did was cutting down their circles to a manageable number of people, and I guess that most of us put thought into that process and decided, based on what our experience was with the content we encountered, whom to keep and whom to ditch, and - at a later stage - whom to add as a new contact. Everyone to their liking.
Circles are a great thing, when it comes to sharing different information. Not everyone is interested in astrophysics and it makes sense to post to those only, who had stated their interest in that subject. Most of the people, though, aren't interested in one subject only, but are multifaceted and share things reflecting their various interests. This system, however, forces the poster to put thought into the process of posting, in that they have to think about the topic and where to post it. Some topics concern more than one interest, so they have to consider that as well. Also, a post shared to only a specific circle limits the audience, unless you both post publicly and notify the circle of interest.
When I circle a person, I hardly ever circle them, because they share only one interest with me, but because they are well-rounded in what they post. I skip posts that don’t interest me and interact on others of their posts. As we cannot circle an interest, that somebody shares with us, we have to subscribe to the whole package. This shortcoming has been reduced with the introduction of communities, where people can focus on their interests and interact with those, who share that interest. The downside of this is that many interesting posts are now community posts and not available to everyone, without either being forced to join a community, or requiring extra effort for - say - scientists to post both to a community and to the public stream and to follow the interactions on both posts. Also, people in the community don’t see the comments on the public post and vice versa, unless the author of the post refers to and maybe even cites comments made in one or the other.
Thus, for me, pages are better suited to cover various interests. But with pages, too, the algorithm gets in the way. I have 51 pages circled, and again, I circled them for a reason. Yet, I only see the pages that I either +mention myself (i.e. photography theme pages) and afterwards get spammed with posts of these pages or that I have in my notification circle. I see maybe 20 % of the pages and not all of their content (except of those I am notified for, of course). Why? Because I don’t plus and comment on the other pages. Why? Because I don’t see them, unless I go the extra mile and either go to the page itself or to the stream of pages the network automatically created, when I put these pages into a circle.
Now the notification circle is something, that adds to narrowing down the stream. I created a notification circle back in May, because I already missed people in the stream back then. Now, because I get notified for these posts, I interact on these posts. Roughly a sixth of all people and pages I have circled are in that notification circle. That can sometimes lead to many notifications, which in turn leave no space or time to surf my main stream, thus leading to less interaction on other posts, which then leads to them being pushed over the edge. Yesterday, I entertained that crazy thought for a minute, that I could move all the people and pages to one circle with notifications turned on. This, however, would be unmanageable, I think..Summary
The algorithm is useful on the Internet, filtering information, and it can even be useful on G+, when it comes to searching for new people to cover interests, that aren't already covered by those we have in our circles, or discovering new interests..It isn't useful, however, for the content, that people in our circles share. They are
in our circles for a reason, and yes. David. I want to see all of it or, at least, have the control with the option to turn off the algorithm in G+.I plussed the heck out of you all, because I want to see your content and want to interact with you.
I don't know who to ping specifically, maybe +Vic Gundotra
and +Google+ Help
These are my gazillion cents on that topic, inferences that - maybe - aren't quite correct, but nevertheless worth a thought or two. If you have made it that far, I wish you a great day and to all the others as well :)