I’ve thought a lot about how to have a good media diet, and ensure that I read only the best stuff. Here’s how I dodge bad articles and collect the best.
This piece was originally published at the tech site Gigaom at the beginning of 2015.
Creating web content is incredibly easy — but filtering content is really hard. In late 2014, I realized I was reading too much bad content. I felt enraged by some of the articles I clicked on, because they were such a thoughtless waste of my time.
I got so frustrated that I decided to invest serious effort in fixing the problem on my end, instead of fruitlessly swearing at my laptop. I hoped to determine what’s non-optimal about my media habits, and how I can improve them. So I audited my habits (with a spreadsheet and everything!) — and what I learned might surprise you!
Current Clickbait Solutions
I’m not alone in my anger about clickbait and my desire for a better media diet. There’s plenty of mocking commentary about this, like The Onion’s satirical site ClickHole, or the amazing Twitter feed Saved You A Click by Jake Beckman. Beckman helpfully summarizes the answer to one clickbait headline per tweet:
$20,257.50. (It’s one free item per day for 30 years) RT@Slate: How much is "Free Starbucks for Life" actually worth?
— Saved You A Click (@SavedYouAClick) December 15, 2014
It’s becoming an arms race: One side makes ever-sneakier clickbait… while the other side makes ever-better filters. Much of this stuff get spread via Facebook, yet Facebook knows that it’s a threat to user satisfaction, so the company is working to make the News Feed algorithms less vulnerable to bad content in clever packaging.