Product Reviews

Facebook Doesn’t Have to Be Terrible

GE: So this is, we’re talking about. So another argument that Frances has made that raised a lot of eyebrows, is that a platform like Facebook should just go back to reverse chronological ranking, because the engagement based ranking algorithm is the root of all evil. And a lot of people are like, that’s crazy. It would just, oh, would make social media unusable.

LG: That’s what we used for years.

GE: Right. Twitter was reverse chronological until 2015, and you can still set it to be reverse chronological. Although that I find that it, I think every time I log out, it sets me back.

MC: Yes. Yeah.

LG: Yes.

GE: I’m on reverse chronological now, and it’s totally fine. It’s better because I don’t want everything to be, it’s like, I don’t want every bite of food to be a Dorito that’s just engineered to overwhelm my senses. I don’t want every tweet to be like the tweet I have to look at.

MC: Yeah.

GE: The idea of Facebook is that you’re connecting with people you actually know. What’s so crazy about just seeing it in order? Now people say is, oh, but then you’ll just see that one person who uses Facebook way too much and it’ll be annoying. So one thing that Frances has said is, yeah, you can build in anti-spam stuff. If someone’s posting too much, they could condense that and say, Mike Calore posted nine times, click to see. So there’s ways around that.

MC: Which nobody should ever click on.

GE: No, no, don’t click on that. Don’t click, definitely if you’re under 18. So I’m not sitting here making the full-throated case for it, but I don’t think it’s as crazy as it sounds. The thing to keep in mind is that it would not be a solution to all of social media. If you think about recommender systems more broadly, could YouTube go reverse chronological? Could Spotify podcast recommendations go reverse chron?

LG: And Netflix.

GE: Can Netflix? No. So it’s important to keep in mind, it’s not going to be a one size fits all for every recommender system.

LG: Or imagine Amazon, if it was like you logged onto Amazon and the thing that was being recommended to you as a product is the, I don’t know, the really weird wholesale piece of junk that someone just happened to list as opposed to the thing you actually need.

GE: Yeah, which of the billions of products. Yeah.

LG: Yeah. All right.

GE: That’d be fun. Just buy the most recent things. There’s a stunt article somehow.

LG: Thank you for that idea.

GE: So get someone to build a reverse chronological Amazon, then I buy everything.

LG: Yeah, and I think I know a designer who can help with that.

GE: What do I own after six months?

MC: Amazon firehose.

GE: “Help, I’m starving.”

LG: “Help. I have no toilet paper.”

GE: Yeah.

LG: All right. Let’s take a break. And then we’re going to come back with our recommendations.

[Break]

LG: Gilad, I’m almost afraid to ask what’s your recommendation this week. This is why we brought you on, by the way, not to talk about Facebook, just for your recommendation.

GE: And it’s why I accepted.

MC: And also to talk about Facebook.

GE: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So my recommendation, and it’s something that Mike and I have talked about before, but I finally executed on it, is listen to CDs.

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