Reading the E-Leaves: The future of magazines on digital devices is beginning to take shape.
"What I'd love is to create some sort of social media layer which is off by default, but if you choose to turn it on, what you see is smart commentary, real-time, surfaced by our [criteria], not by who can post first," he says. "And the tweets you see are the tweets that are most retweeted, in order, and the Facebook comments you see are based on reputation metrics or popularity metrics, and there are smart algorithms that surface smart debate and commentary outside the comment pages. Rather than you having to come to our site to leave a comment, … our software should be smart enough to find it [on a social media platform], surface it and display it in context when wanted."
Anderson also talks about a "one-click tweet-to-app experience" driving audiences to purchase apps or content, which is not possible today with the various steps and walls set up by online retailing. The goal, he says, is a "seamless in-medium connection between social media and purchase"—a way to bring audiences into, and keep them in, a particular curated context.
This may seem an ambitious dream, but forward-thinking publishers seem poised to accept—and deal with—trends exemplified by applications like Flipboard: the repurposing of digital content into customized streams, and the utilization of social media or sophisticated algorithms to tailor content offerings to audiences' desires. What content providers can't glean from your friends' actions, they will learn from your search history (a la Google's promised information services designed to anticipate your every whim) or volunteered personal information. Publishers not willing to ride this wave may find themselves wondering where all the eyes—and dollars—have gone. PE