Many publishing sites are trying to figure out how to up-value and ultimately monetize commenting. Huffington Post recently purchased Adaptive Semantics, a company that assesses words in a Big Data kind of way with statistical analysis of words’ contextual meanings, in order to facilitate sorting through the 100,000 comments HuffPo is deluged with daily, figuring out which comments are worth posting, weeding out trolls and spam, etc.
Kudos to HuffPo for making commenting tastier because I want to read what I can’t put down and so do you.
And you want to read the comments that help you figure out that thing you’ve been thinking about for weeks hoping they’ll give you a clue. Or better yet, what they say makes you THINK of the answer. If I could only somehow have articles with useful comments ‘pushed’ to me (remember push technology - uh, PointCast anyone?).
So, I’m reading a Slashdot article on Airbnb and illegal hotels in Amsterdam. I manage $10K a month in listings on Airbnb, so I get Google Alerts for anything in cyberspace with ‘Airbnb’ in it. I perk up when my ears thump ‘illegal short term rentals’. It’s ‘infotaining’ to me to read all the goofy, ill-informed comments that Adaptive Semantics would presumably eliminate because I kinda like that stuff and, remarkably, the best comments (conforming to my reality) end up being rated the highest. So, their Slashdot’s gamification algorithm works ‘pretty good’. Apparently, lots of folks agree that Slashdot does it best.
But pretty good at ranking article comments is small potatoes. I am at core a cognitive psychologist with a fetish for psychometrics. And I have figured out something. There are seven billion people and counting here on Earth. And every one of us has maybe a hundred different faculties, each at its own unique level. Tim Berners-Lee with his work on the Semantic Web and Adaptive Semantics could lead us to a way of using their ideas to assess our individualized faculties and match them as closely as possible to the cognitive levels of any content with which we engage. Imagine a game where our cognitive ‘levels’ are represented like health and ammo in a first person shooter, and what we engage with MATCHES those levels. In gaming, this is called the Regime of Competence.
It’s the biggest idea I’ve ever thought. And I filed for a provisional patent and never got the working patent. So, it’s public domain and anybody can use it. Please use it.
There is no area of life that couldn’t be improved by the ability to have these matches. Monster, Match, MayoClinic, Khan Academy and even Netflix would all be hugely better if we could each have the gift of having our various abilities matched to our interests. Cognitive science has shown us that when we are matched thusly, our affect spikes and we’re much more likely to have those moments of amazement we call ‘aha’ experiences. It’s the most fun we can have. We get addicted to that kind of fun.
If our profile on the web included these parameters, every article we read, all our comments would be much more pertinent to the others that we share with. The exchange of learning would provide a synergy hitherto unimagined by publishers or anyone else. Teams, tribal affiliations would take on an entirely new meaning because everyone that’s interested in what I’m interested in is learning like me too.
Gamification of comments using semantic matching could be the solution to the problem of the old publishing models disintegrating while the new ones are not quite gaining the traction to sustain themselves. Forget ‘Paywall’, Freemium, et al, people would ‘flock’ by their interests and abilities. This is what new media is already all about and the secret sauce of the metrics is all about Semantic Analysis.
And like George Carlin might have said, "That jerk that thinks he’s better than me, I don’t have to listen to his garbage anymore--or that guy who’s too stupid to be in the same room as me. Outta here!"
Professor Carlin, however, probably wouldn’t have been as kind in his semantic analysis.