Howard Rheingold: Twitter, Curation, Future of Information

Advanced Cyber/IO
Howard Rheingold

Twitter acquisition confirms that curation is the future

Mathew Ingram

Gigaom, 21 January 2012

Twitter made an interesting acquisition on Thursday, when it bought a young Canadian startup called Summify, a company whose service (as its name implies) was designed to cut through the noise of all those social-media streams and summarize the content that matters. More than anything, this is perhaps the single biggest hole that exists not just in Twitter but Facebook and other services as well: the need to give users more ways of filtering the massive amounts of information that keep flooding their activity streams and other social-media inboxes. There are so many ways of producing and sharing content but so few good ways of filtering.

As has been reported elsewhere, Summify says it’s mothballing its service (a decision that was not received warmly by many users), and the team of five will join the growing ranks at Twitter’s new headquarters. The two co-founders, who are originally from Romania, moved to Vancouver, B.C. when they were accepted into an incubator program called Bootup Labs and later received angel funding (according to one report, a Summify investor posted a message that suggested the Twitter acquisition was an all-stock transaction, but the tweet was later deleted). Like some other services such as News.me, Summify filtered a user’s activity streams, then used an algorithm to produce a daily email with links to the most-shared content in their social networks.

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Phi Beta Iota:  CIA, IBM, Google, and NSA all stink at both early warning (anomaly detection and pattern analysis in multi-cultural multidisciplinary multidomain contexts) and at sense-making.  The primary reason they stink is their obsessive substitution of technology for thinking.  As James Bamford has documented so well, one single human brain can do more, with less energy and mass, than all of NSA’s corporate vapor-ware computers.  Novices work with data; journeymen work with models; masters worth with whole systems assumptions and fully integrate human and machine capabilities into their M4IS2 system, which does not exist together because of the isularity, myopia, and general ignorance of all so-called “intelligence” services.