December 22nd, 2010
04:33 PM GMT
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New York – Guess what? You probably have too many friends. That is one of the many things I learned from my recent chat with Caterina Fake. As one of the co-founders of Flickr and head of the technology development group at Yahoo!, Fake was at the center of the surge in social networking. Now that we all made the jump and are living our lives online via Facebook and Twitter and the like, Fake predicts we will want to fine tune the experience.

“In this era we have promiscuously friended everybody and we have made connections and we have friended people who aren't truly our friends,” explains Fake. “One of the things that is important after we have gone through that phase is that there will be a contraction. You'll start to realize that ‘I can only pay attention to this number of people’.”

This number happens to be around 150, according to Fake. Give or take. That is not to say that Fake is suggesting people start de-friending en masse. Instead she thinks the need to cut down the noise on the web will lead to a boom in personalization. Her new company, Hunch, aims to capitalize on that. The site allows users to create a taste profile and then uses that to help make recommendations for products or services you are searching for.

“Web 1.0 or the dot-com era, as I call it, was about commerce and web 2.0 was about social networks, participation and media,” she explains. “We are entering a new phase now where, hopefully, all of that participation leads to some benefit for the user… I really think 2011 will be the year of personalization.”

What does that mean?

Well, say I was traveling to London to go to a friend’s wedding. A personalization service like Hunch would direct me to the kind of hotel I like (small boutique), let me know what restaurants are in that area, suggest a gym or yoga class nearby and also let me know that my favorite band happens to be in town and that tickets are available. All in one sweep. The idea is to make your experience on the web more efficient and more specific to you.

Sounds great (sort of.) But what about privacy?

Fake and I talked a lot about the issue. I think there is definitely going to be more friction as these services become more targeted. Do I really want people to know that much about my preferences and habits? I’m pretty sure I don’t.

But Fake points out that the information is out there already. She acknowledges the tech industry can do better. The privacy processes needs to be simpler so users can make better decisions about how much information they want out there and how much they want shared. Transparency is key and services that are not up front about what they are doing with your personal info simply will not succeed.

I sat down with Fake at the Ace Hotel, a hot spot for the hip tech crowd. It was the first time we met in person and I was impressed by her ability to talk so fluently about these evolving tech trends. It is easy for these kinds of conversations to get lost in lingo like algorithms and social graphing, but Fake kept it rooted in real life, which was refreshing. She had a great sense of humor throughout the shoot (we had a few mishaps with construction noise, always an issue in New York) and the buoyant energy of an entrepreneur.

Fake was so confident about what is going to dominate in the coming year, but finding a name for it… that is proving a lot harder.

“Well, you can't call it Web 3.0 because it’s not really on the web now,” she said, “ it’s on mobile devices, there are apps everywhere, the iPad has completely changed the direction of where things are going.”

What do you think? What should this next wave of the digital experience be called? Do you want more personalization, or like me, are you somewhat freaked out by it? Let us know what you think…

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. emunadate

    take a look at how israel has contributed to the high tech industry...

    December 22, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  2. LV_nonanon

    Personalization - a term which returns from the Web 1.0 grave, which was a reanimation of micro-targeting concepts in the 70's, now a term you give credibility to because........

    The last two unintended consequences of the web's existence are personal fortunes for Face-twit-on founders and Wikileaks.

    Simply put, nobody knows what's next. Believing that you can know is priceless.

    December 22, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  3. Askin

    All you need is a proper E-Mail provider. We've reached a point where personalization and privacy being more valuable than ever before.

    Being both Web 1.0 & 2.0 witness myself (20-25yo.), the turning point led to contraction, i.e. reducing the contact list entries to a minimum. While I still tend to get into latest gadgetry & other technical peaks and perks, personal contacts, however, still revolve around E-Mails and face-to-face conversations.

    December 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  4. Pierre C

    That name... you must be kidding me, right? If it's true, gee, it's not her fault but...

    Oh well: Fake advises me on how many friends I should have! It could be worse, it could be Fakebook.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:08 pm |
  5. June Katz(חן)

    No room for chances.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:18 pm |
  6. Len Garden

    Great post. I followed the piece on TV and Maggie is right–Fake was rather real and down to earth–no algorithm mash about what everybody else is also trying to figure out. Maggie, you should've mentioned the 'wild card' part of the interview–'dark horse' that seems poised to profit most from the iPad and commercial platform. I was recently pleasantly surprised this afternoon when purchasing some premium features on a web service because among the options for payment in addition to PayPal was Amazon–a buying platform I like for 'one click' checking out. Google and Yahoo definitely have some catching up to do.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  7. tim

    1 billion people are starving and people are concerned with sh*t like this? Ms. Fake looks really comfortable.

    December 22, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
  8. johnson

    The next wave of digital experience is gonna be called'MOW" my own world

    December 22, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
  9. Chinedu

    I think the name for the next web dispensation should be called personal information solutions web dispensation (PIS)


    December 22, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  10. mahmoud el-darwish

    I love the Internet age. Almost anyone can pop up and be an SME on the Internet. Poof of this is Caterina Fake's mere suggestion that we are at a Web 3.0 stage. Friends we're still struggling to solve Web 1.0. changing the version number does not make for a new or different struggle. It's all part of the same evolutionary process.As I've written elsewhere, the Internet is a synthetic neural network. Want to know where we are on the Web version timeline? Study the evolution of the human neural network.
    Caterina Fake talks about "meaningfulness" in social associations. That's a welcome thought considering the hubris that attended the dotcom meltdown. But's not Web 3.0, it's more like Web an altogether different beast.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
  11. Tim Riches

    "Transparency is key and services that are not up front about what they are doing with your personal info simply will not succeed."


    December 22, 2010 at 8:45 pm |
  12. Savant

    As a web developer myself, this is what I see happening -

    Our younger generation, Generation I (Internet), are growing up with Xbox Live, Twitter, Facebook, etc. – your basic "social network experience".

    Right now, kids/young adults have no real concerns for posting whatever information they want out into the digital ether. To be fair, this laissez-faire attitude of instant communication has infected most every generation.

    But with Gen I'ers, because of their ages, they don't have the responsibilities of work, providing for a family, mortgages, insurance, etc.

    When these types of responsibilities hit – when they enter the working world – they are going to find that their "persona" has already been defined and archived on the Internet. When that happens, they are going to have an about face on their habits and focus on the discipline of privacy.

    I think the current form of "social networking" is a novelty. In the next 5 years, that honeymoon will be over and you will find people being more digital recluses.

    December 22, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
  13. Wired74

    Wired magazine predicted this a long, long time ago...

    December 22, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
  14. s

    - and THEY have friended people who aren't truly our friends,” explains Fake.

    this is NOT just true BUT 'fact' ! Yup ! (dont try to guess the type of me .. better try to guess how bad things r turning arnd !)

    btw – it is not just flickr,z or any crp... its all those nosebooks and bloddy tweety concepts u all fine people !

    sense urself ..... true friends and relationships are not something you to and find and find somebody's find or found by somebloody's wotever...

    it just should happen ..keeping how well or however you ARE. Good luck to human kind (hope fully we would get the universal freedom from this social network website crp ! am not sure if Times gone mad by making the person of year talks where they never seemed to be considered the real human and nice people .. but just considered the media talking people... i wonder why not they pick the best pus!! never mind :- ) hey you all...... its just my thought.. if any one one wanna comment bad or worse... go ahead... but be prepared if i come bak ! to take urs !


    December 22, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  15. nihalsam, switzerland

    All the really inteliigent people I know, didn't get involved with Facebook, Twitter etc., because they knew in advance what the so-called Web guru "appears" to have only just discovered. I say "appears", because I am convinced she was banking on this all the time, and was waiting to land her next coup: Hunch. The lady has a very appropriate name: nomen est omen !

    December 22, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Caterina Fake is too impersonal to deserve a personalized comment.

    December 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  17. Sarge

    UMMMMM Yes

    there's nothing like something that meets this saying :

    what happens when a irresistable mover meets an irrepressible object ???

    --nothing like something so changeable that it "seems" solid !!!


    December 22, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
  18. Ash Rahmani

    I spent a little time 'training' hunch, and whilst it gives some nice reccomendations its way off on some major 'hunches', including identifying religious beliefs – which were actually totally askew. Furthermore i think what Fake is identifying as web3.0 is pretty egotistical, considering recommendation engines and personalisation have been around on amazon, ebay, every store, itunes and most interest sites etc for a LOOOOONNNNNGGGG time. Nice free advertising for Fake and Hunch on CNN though. Talk about a one sided, uninvestigative article. How does this kind of poor reporting get onto a popular website and news source like CNN?

    December 22, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
  19. Steven Ong

    Too many friends? No, I think the problem is too much time spend chatting on line and too little focus on the important things that truly define our lives a human on earth. Why are we here? What is our true purpose of living? We need all the earth as our friends.

    That is we must prioritize our time on what is consider important and what is leisure. Chatting is leisure but is it important? Imagine the whole world chatting and nobody actually working to improves lives on earth. That is one of the reasons, the world's problems is increasing – poverty, wars, confrontations, declining health and others. This we can partly blame the business men who make this happen for profit. The people are weak and sometimes we need to guide them or force them see the important things in life.

    December 22, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  20. LOLGuy

    Guru? Ha!

    Fake is not even a programmer ...

    She had capital, this is all.

    You folks throw these words around and dilute the true meaning.

    See "hero" in the Chilean Miner stories.

    They were victims, not heroes. Fake is a web entrepreneur, not a guru.

    December 22, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
  21. Fakey fakerson Mcfakeface

    I initiAlly tried looking for this videobyte after seeing it on hotel cable news. I accessed google on my iPhone through friendly local free French wifi....

    When googling caterinA fake maggie lake;
    Google gave me catering fake maggot lake.

    Worth a laugh.

    December 23, 2010 at 1:45 am |
  22. Carlos Arroyo

    I have the perfect name for you. "See For Yourself" and i would like to be compensated in any way or form for sharing the "Title " with you and for you.

    December 23, 2010 at 2:03 am |
  23. smanCometh

    Hey people, get away from your computer and go socialize face to face with other real people...go for a a good book. But at all costs, get off the computer.

    December 23, 2010 at 2:55 am |
  24. Faraz

    This is really a good idea but I am not sure if it will make the market. So far I have discussed it with people and found that everybody likes it but no one is interested to switch to it.

    But I certainly feel positve about the same.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  25. Lily

    Turkey is not a Muslim state. It's a secular state where the majority of the population is muslim.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  26. Halvor

    What about correlation – you can correlate anything, anywhere with anyone.

    December 23, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  27. NB5,0ian


    Eesh... CNN, you just lost an viewer – and you really can't afford that right now (I follow your ratings and ad spend – and hey – I even know what I am talking about).

    Fake could be forgiven if she was just a typical entrepreneur – most start-ups don't make it, much less sell to Y! for $35m (or so I've read – always hated Flikr)...the problem is, she not only doesn't know what she talks about – a la a certain female Conservative politician I know – she doesn't even try. And much worse – far worse than that, she lies like a rug, and has been doing it for so long that she can't remember them all. Makes me sad...for her.

    December 25, 2010 at 5:30 am |
  28. NB5,0ian

    oh...and Hunch? An ad network, pure and simple. Been around for over a decade – with a dash of sloppy behavioral targeting thrown in. Read their privacy policy.

    It's just real content possibly/maybe/I lean toward probably augmented (read: fake haha) info, paired with your personal data, maybe an algo but doubt it learns much...then sold to anyone and everyone who will take their money in exchange for some degree (depends on the benjamins) of your info.

    And cookies? Completely misrepresented. it gets better. I have never read a "privacy policy" such as this one....which guarantees zero privacy.

    This is just for everyone's own good...

    December 25, 2010 at 6:38 am |
  29. Amar

    as far as the conflict of personalisation vis a vis and privacy issue, the so called web 3.0 can be designed to include personality suites....
    by clubbing together certain trends of persons .. rather than details of individual one.. eg. hippi.. acsetic.. loner.. sociable ... etc..

    so these can be used for tagetted business without directly infringing ones own chioces which are too personal to be made business out of.

    - Amar

    December 28, 2010 at 6:01 am |
  30. omegaguy

    I agree with the comment that 1 sixth of the planet's humans are starving while the rest think about the next most tech way to meet friends? It's a new year approaching....who knows what's coming down earth's sleeve. Let's acknowledge our inability to know what's really coming instead of making the gadget

    December 28, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  31. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Maggie darling,
    Top of the morning to you and the rest of the team.
    Nigeria's dubious food and drug policy
    Last year,it took the death of a number of infants and toddlers and a number of them who were hospitalized for the Nigeria Food & Drug Administration & Control(NAFDAC) to respond to the existence of a lethal substance labeled My Picking which in reality was poison.The substance was regarded as a local equivalent of a brand of teething powder.Since then,NAFDAC has not explained how and why the substance got to the market.
    Also, in Northern Nigeria last year, some hapless female students were hospitalized after taking a lethal beans meal.Again NAFDAC had nothing to do or say to address the tragedy.NAFDAC hasn't explained why it was expedient to store food with poison or anything like it.NAFDAC only advised the public to boil and wash the pesticide used in preserving beans, before taking it.
    Worse still , NAFDAC has not been able to prohibit some questionable herbal remedies which are daily being hawked in buses.This is not about condemning tested and potent herbal remedies.NAFDAC hasn't done anything to stop the production of Nigeria's combustible and poor imitation of Gordon's Dry Gin.Some call the substance ogogoro and others call it amuku which in English means "take and die".These are being hawked at motor parks and several places with impunity.
    NAFDAC, by no stretch of the imagination can't be the equivalent of the US Food &Drug Administration.It's not clear to any rational being why manufacturers of foreign pharmaceuticals would want to destroy people who use their products.It's not also clear why Pfizer would test-market an incomplete product like the government said in the Pfizer case.The product in question is Trovan for which no suitable and potent local equivalent exists.
    NAFDAC , in its present form is the executor of a callous and carefully contrived agenda to limit the choices open to Nigerian consumers.The tariffs and quotas and outright ban of certain commodities in Nigeria were ostensibly to protect local manufacturers.They didn't work.Instead, local pharmaceutical firms like Biode have packed-up.It's no longer in business.....
    Oladipo Akinyemi Omole
    The same policy under which NAFDAC thrives has left the textile industry in Nigeria comatose.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  32. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Thank you much and cheers.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:24 am |

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