In many ways, traditional filters made it so much easier to find and consume content. Traditional filters also came with the benefit of having a stamp of approval. We knew the content had been, well, filtered.
Newspapers filter news and information for us. Editors and journalists cover news they believed is important and then presented it to us in an easy-to-use format – important stuff highlighted on the front page and less important news and features sprinkled throughout in topical sections (business, sports, etc.).
The same goes for other traditional filters.
- Networks and cable TV filter our television content. Only the shows they think are best make it onto the air for our viewing pleasure
- Producers and Hollywood filter our movies
- Agents and editors filter our books
- Labels and music producers filter our music
You get the idea. Our content used to be filtered through third-parties. It was difficult to even find content outside of the traditional filters.
All that ended, of course, with the Internet.
And now as social media expands and becomes a growing force, we are witnessing the demise (and perhaps the outright destruction) of traditional filters.
They are no longer the gatekeepers, the taste makers and primary producers of content.
Musicians can sell their music on the Internet. Authors can publish ebooks and sell them on Amazon.com. Reporters can publish blogs or write for new media outlets. Budding food critics can write restaurant reviews on Yelp.
Filtering all of this new content now falls to our social graphs – our friends and families. Our co-workers. People we follow on Twitter, Yelp and Pinterest. Bloggers and social media influencers. New media and a mix of old media. Search engines and news aggregators.
This is both exhilarating and frightening.
There are some many challenges and questions about a world where non-traditional filters have grabbed control:
- Will all content – movies, books, music, games – spiral downward to the lowest common denominator. In other words, will we all be stuck playing Farmville and watching R-rated horror movies?
- Can we trust content that doesn’t come from traditional filters? Is the journalism based on facts? Is the analysis really propaganda? Is the author really the author?
- Will content platforms/curators ultimately become the new traditional filters? For example, Apple’s tight controls on which apps can be sold on its platform.
- Will content creators end up with smaller audiences and less rewards?
- Who owns digital content? The creator? The platform host? The users who buy it?
There are no real answers yet. We are in uncharted territory.
How are you handling the influx of new content? Have dove in head-first? Do you still rely on traditional filters? Are traditional filters still reliable as they scramble to remain viable?