Signal In the Social Noise

Eric Schmidt famously said in 2010 that every two days we generate more data that we have up to 2003. To clarify:

  • dawn of civilization -> 2003 = X amount of data
  • this past weekend = X amount of data

That’s mind numbing to think about.  It’s also a huge problem, because most this data is pretty useless.  As we all know, Rick Rolling and pictures of people’s cats aren’t value add data points for most circumstances.  So what are we to think about the ocean of data that we’re producing? What are the high-value data points and how difficult is it to sift through all of that sand for a nugget of insights?

I’m noticing lots of companies trying to get early signal by ‘plugging social’ into their search results.  A good example of this type of integration is Tripadvisor:

Playing around with these integrations, I’m realizing how dissimilar I am from my Facebook network and how bad the signal is in most cases.

When I was working with an agency a few years ago, someone told me that commerce occurs at the intersection of segmentation and intent. That really stuck with me.  I believe that social media remains adolescent in the world of advertising and commerce is because it’s not great at segmentation it’s still pretty lousy at capturing intent.  In order to make social data useful and actionable, startups are going to need to do some processing and get better at personalization, or we’re all going to have to become a lot more thoughtful about who we’re friends with. 🙂