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Human Curation Improves Big Data Algorithms

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There is a new trend that is putting the human back into the picture. Smart organizations have come to realize that as powerful as algorithms are, people are just too complicated and diverse to be modeled with math alone. They acknowledge the incredible value that human insight (the third type of thinking I teased here) can add to even the most sophisticated algorithm when it comes to understanding and predicting what a user might be interested in. If I ask an algorithm to find songs that have Jack Kerouac lyrics and Sex Pistols music, I will have to wait about 20 years for it to figure something out. But a 1970s style DJ could do it in a heartbeat.

Users are obviously the best judge of what they want to see, but we’re also notoriously reluctant to spend time and effort curating—take a look at the Google+ Circles experiment, for example. Facebook is likely hoping these changes help strike the right balance between control and convenience.