Partial Transcript: Episode 63 (Content on the Web)

Virginia: I wanted to talk about this topic: Is there too much content on the internet?

Andrew: Nope.  Case closed.  End of podcast.

Virginia: I love how we have these 30 second podcasts.

Andrew: We’re not contributing to too much information this way.

Leland: Yeah.  It’s just the right amount of information.

Virginia: Thanks, guys.  I got my answer.

Andrew: We can go drink.

Leland: I’m actually drinking Prosecco out of a bottle right now!

Andrew: So you’re asking: Is there so much content that it’s impossible to get to useful stuff?

Virginia: I don’t really know what I’m asking.

Leland: Do you feel like the amount decreases the value of the whole?

Virginia: Maybe.  I wonder if there are too many people trying to be the next big thing.  I wonder if the economics of the internet perverts the content.

Andrew: Signal to noise ratio, then.  People are writing more articles instead of fewer good articles.

Virginia: Yeah.

Nick: I feel like we’re getting more good articles.

Leland: There’s certainly a lot junk as more and more people use the internet.  There will be higher demand for the internet, so people will supply it.  There are content farms out there.  They pay somebody to produce a three paragraph article on some topic.

Andrew: Mechanical Turk is like that.  Thirty cents to write an article that has buzzwords.

Leland: They throw it up on a page, and they get hits.  It’s how they make money off of people who don’t know how to use the internet.

Virginia: Is that proof that there’s too much content?

Leland: It’s proof that the incentives are all wrong.

Andrew: There’s always going to be a lot of noise.

Nick: What is that 10,000 hours on YouTube…?

Andrew: Well, there’s cat videos…

Virginia: Those have inherent value.

Andrew: Cat videos could have value in an end-of-the-world scenario as an alternate currency.

Leland: It’s infinitely farmable.  You can always make more cat videos.

Andrew: I think search engines do a pretty good job of helping people sort out what’s good content and bad content.  Social networking can help with that.

Virginia: It’s sort of like Reddit is the filter.

Leland: That’s how I describe it.  It’s a filter.

Andrew: If you want a deluge, you can use StumbleUpon.

Leland: There’s kind of the problem of the 24-hour news cycle.  It’s exacerbated.  It’s that on a grand scale.  They’re all saying the same thing because they want hits.

Andrew: Once the AP writes something, they all repeat it.

Leland: You run into a bunch of mimicked junk out there.  I don’t think it devalues it.  Maybe it does for the common user because it makes it harder to get to meaningful information.

Nick: So that’s not the right information?

Leland: You could make the argument that there’s so much there that they wouldn’t even know where to start to sift through it.

Andrew: People don’t know how to do basic search engine stuff.  They don’t understand how to get good results.  People still put whole sentences into search engines as if there’s a real person there.

Leland: If you look at Wolfram Alpha, they’ll take English sentences and give you pretty good results.

Nick: It’s great for math questions.

Leland: You have to know how to ask it properly.

Virginia: Can you put in an 8th grade math problem and have it solve it?

Leland: Yeah, but you can do that in Google too.

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