Applications = Aggregation
Over the last three years, I have witnessed a number of fundamental shifts in consumer behavior. The most intriguing of the trends has been digital aggregation, also known as Digital Curation. The concept first surfaced in 1994, but became more visible between 2004-2007 when media and advertising industry observers noticed that successful blogs and news sources were simply sifting through the mountain of information on the Internet to provide the most useful and relevant information to their readers.
My interest in the topic bubbled up when I started using NetVibes. I had discovered RSS readers in the past, but NetVibes really worked for me. It allowed me to view the news and information I wanted quickly and get on with my day. I’ve since stopped using NetVibes and run the gambit of aggregation tools like iGoogle, My Yahoo!, and Addict-o-matic. Of course, the web-based tools all went by the wayside when I decided to get an iPhone. But, aggregation came with my switch to a more mobile, digital lifestyle.
Of course, I added apps like Pulse and Headliner to my phone. But I noticed something odd about my online behavior. I used the apps on my phone to avoid searching for information. Like NetVibes, with its building blocks of RSS readers, I had built my own personal aggregation system that went everywhere with me. The applications I chose to make up my phone’s operating system were my filter on the world in many respects. As the light bulb glowed over my head, I started asking my friends how they were using their mobile devices. They all responded that they were having the exact same experience I was... and they were loving it.
That was two years ago. Since then, I’ve seen the idea of Digital Curation enjoy a resurgence in marketing. It is on many "Trends to Watch for 2011" lists. And, in my mind, it belongs there. Not because we will see more successful site that curate information for people. But because people now have the tools to aggregate marketing out of their lives. Right now, I can create a set of applications on my phone, TV and PC that deliver only the news and information I want. I can listen to music and watch most of the shows I love commercial-free. I can read articles and gather information without seeing a single banner ad. Brands have no place in my aggregator... unless I let them in. And the only way that happens is when they speak to me on my terms, provide relevant information and, most important, bring value to my life.
And as the light bulb glows over my head, I’ve started asking my friends how they’re using technology. I’m betting they’re having the exact same experience I am... and loving it.