With the emergence of Apple Beats 1 Radio, Apple News, Facebook Instant Articles, Twitter’s Lightning, and Instagram’s new Explore feature, content and curation are all the rage in big tech.

Ben Thompson sums it up nicely on Stratechery in a post entitled Curations And Algorithms –

It’s possible that algorithms will one day be superior to humans at both (providing context and applying taste) of these functions, but I’m skeptical: the critical recognition of context and creativity are the two arenas where computers consistently underperform humans.

I’d like to consider curation and specifically how it how relates to having a point of view (POV).

The Tech and Humanity of Point of View 

In the media business, perhaps if you try to please everyone you will in fact please no one.

I think Apple gets this with Beats 1 Radio, but I don’t know if Apple gets this with Apple News. I don’t know if Circa had a point of view, but if so I didn’t see it when I tried the service. I’d posit that a key reason for Circa’s demise wasn’t the lack of innovative features which they had, but the absence of a POV.

I’m not sure if Jason Hirschhorn’s REDEF has a point of view. It feels more like curation.

Bob Lefsetz has a point of view and it’s what makes him stand out. He’s provocative. Howard Stern has a point of view. Bob Dylan has a point of view. Steve Jobs had a point of view. Tim Cook has been more vocal about his (and implicitly Apple’s point of view).

While it’s not impossible for an algorithm to have some degree of POV (humans are the ones programming the algorithm after all) it seems to me that any algorithmic point of view is lacking in humanity.

Only people can develop their own unique POV. That’s what makes us human.

So why don’t more tech companies have a POV?

Perhaps out of fear. It could be that today we’re (people and companies) less willing to share a point of view because if we do the world will know. The Internet bares all, and we can’t predict how sharing a POV will impact our reputation or stock price.

Or perhaps tech companies place their faith in the belief that computers trump humans in the vast majority of tasks. But could it be this is a deeply ingrained belief that is in fact holding back tech companies like Google and Facebook?

Curation = POV? Not quite. 

The question of curations vs. algorithms cuts to the fabric of companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter.

Twitter is going to be curating live events with Project Lightning. It’s not clear if they’ll have a POV. Facebook Instant Articles will host content from 3rd parties like the NY Times and Buzzfeed, but it’s not clear if they’ll have a POV.

Should curation mean applying a POV to a predetermined set of content? Or is it simply having human editors pick and choose the “best” content to surface to the masses? My sense is most tech companies apply the latter definition.

It seems to me that curation has become a politically correct term that means editors or choosing the “highest quality” (inherently subjective) content to feature on a platform (i.e. tweets, pictures, articles, etc). But are these editors thinking about what’s best for the platform, which is in large part not offending anybody, or making editorial decisions through a unique lens?

Maybe when tech companies start to grok point of view, we’ll see more interesting things happen at the intersection of tech and media.

Apple gets this with Apple Music and Beats 1 Radio. Perhaps this will be what we’ve been waiting for!


Apple News Format and the Custom News Feed

by Ian Rosenwach 6.8.2015

RSS will always hold special place in my heart. The first two web products I built were RSSColumns; an RSS feed aggregator with 1-click RSS subscriptions for your Google Reader or My Yahoo! pages, and a mobile RSS feed aggregator and syndicator called WordTube. (Warning: the sites do not meet modern design standards.) Today Apple announced Apple News Format, a […]

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2014 Predictions Revisited

by Ian Rosenwach 12.24.2014

It’s prediction season! 2015 predictions coming soon, but first I’ll revisit my 2014 predictions and see how I did. Here are my 2014 predictions and my self-assigned grade for each. 1 – A Big Year for Female Leaders I predicted that a female would be named CEO of a large company and generally women would rise […]

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Technology + Fashion = Social Utility

by Ian Rosenwach 10.9.2014

We’re only in the beginning of the convergence of fashion and technology. What will the future look like? (My) Definitions Fashion is how we express ourselves to the outside world. Technology is using tools to improve the quality of life. Technology becomes a utility when paired with fashion. Since many of the utilities in our […]

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Only Apple

by Ian Rosenwach 9.11.2014

Now I know what “Only Apple” means. After reading more about the Apple Watch late last night 1, it became clear to me that only Apple could launch the products services they can at the scale they can. Below are some of the elements that, when combined, make Apple the only Company that can accomplish what they […]

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How to Save Mankind

by Ian Rosenwach 8.28.2014

“press 1 for billing.” “press 2 for technical help.” “press 3 for sales.” “press 6 to speak to an operator.” Stop the madness. Someone, please, make a touchscreen, smartphone-focused customer service app. It would look like this – You get the idea. Why do people have to wait to hear what option each # on the […]

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E-Commerce and the Internet of Things

by Ian Rosenwach 8.3.2014

On Friday ReadWriteWeb offered up the below quote from eBay’s VP of innovation – Steve Yankovich, eBay’s VP of innovation and new ventures, sees the future of mobile commerce as various shopping interfaces that will be woven effortlessly throughout daily life—shoppable screens at the airport, at a bar table, at a mall. He heads up the company’s Zero Effort Commerce initiative, […]

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Apple/Beats – 2 premium brands are better than 1

by Ian Rosenwach 5.12.2014

Apple faced a problem – how could they reach new customers without tarnishing the Apple brand, which commands a huge premium that has driven Apple’s growth? Answer #1: Launch a cheaper, more colorful iPhone! Call it the iPhone 5c. Give people different color cases to let them express themselves and personalize Apple devices more than ever […]

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Twitter is Dead. Long Live Twitter.

by Ian Rosenwach 5.6.2014

Twitter has had a lot of explaining to do of late. They need to onboard and activate new users while keeping existing users happy. They have to help Wall Street and the media understand Twitter’s business. Last but not least, they have to ensure advertisers see the value in Twitter as an ad platform. How is […]

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Your Move, New York Times Company

by Ian Rosenwach 3.24.2014

Last week the Washington Post announced a program for partner newspapers to provide their subscribers with access to paid digital Washington Post content. Initial partner companies will be local papers like the Dallas Morning News and Honolulu Star-Advertiser. It’s an ambitious first move of the Post under Jeff Bezos, and provides a window into his long-term strategy […]

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