Chris Anderson on the social filtering of news and media

July 29th, 2009 / 06:07 by Ross Dawson

Chris Anderson, currently most well-known for his provocative book Free, today put forward his views in yet another interview, this time with a cranky reporter from Spiegel, published under the catchy title of ‘Maybe Media Will Be a Hobby Rather than a Job’.

I’m most interested in what he says about how he gets his news, which is precisely the How Influence Drives Content and Publishing theme of the upcoming Future of Influence Summit. It is good to hear this said in someone else’s words, from an information consumers’ perspective. Here is an excerpt from the interview…

SPIEGEL: So how do you stay informed?

Anderson: It comes to me in many ways: via Twitter, it shows up in my inbox, it shows up in my RSS base, through conversations. I don’t go out looking for it.

SPIEGEL: You just don’t care.

Anderson: No, I do care. You know, I pick my sources, and I trust my sources.

SPIEGEL:As millions upon millions trusted the classic media previously.

Anderson: If something has happened in the world that’s important, I’ll hear about it. I heard about the protests in Iran before it was in the papers because the people who I subscribe to on Twitter care about those things.

SPIEGEL: The New York Times, CNN, Reuters and others can publish their best reporting on the Web and you’d never read it?

Anderson: I read lots of articles from mainstream media but I don’t go to mainstream media directly to read it. It comes to me, which is really quite common these days. More and more people are choosing social filters for their news rather than professional filters. We’re tuning out television news, we’re tuning out newspapers. And we still hear about the important stuff, it’s just that it’s not like this drumbeat of bad news. It’s news that matters. I figure by the time something gets to me it’s been vetted by those I trust. So the stupid stuff that doesn’t matter is not going to get to me.

“Social filtering” is a great way to describe this process. Instead of going directly to the source, we are only going to content that our network suggests is going to be interesting or relevant to us.

The “influence” part of this describes the detailed mechanisms whereby news or media becomes visible to us. This includes both the individual influencers and what they do to surface content, and equalty importantly, the structure of the influence networks that results in relevant content being visible.

A lot more on this topic before, during, and after Future of Influence Summit.