This isn't another Balloon Boy post but it starts somewhat adjacent to it, so stay with me here. In her post the other day, It Doesn't Concern You, A. talked about feeling "pressured" to have an opinion and/or be invested in hyped-up stories "that have nothing to do with anything."
But increasingly I feel pressure by the media-sociological machine to have a personal opinion about other people's lives and that gets on my damn nerves. It's all news of the weird now, all little personal outrages, all the time, and none of it matters to anyone.
She was looking at this in the context of laziness and stupidity in the media, and while I don't disagree with her on that, I tend to focus on a different part of the elephant than she does. As I, and others, noted in the comments on that post, advertising and marketing and their attendant industries drive the media machine, not customer opinions, needs, or wants. Like heretic said, "They sell eyeballs to advertisers." And sure, the assumption is that the shinier the inanity du jour, the more eyeballs they'll sell, but it's more than that even. Our opinions, good, bad, or indifferent, our traffic patterns, our consumption of media old and new, are increasingly just so many data points in a huge dynamic, mine-able aggregate.
Today, pretty much as I write this, at the Web 2.0 Summit, Microsoft will announce two separate data-mining deals, with Facebook and Twitter. Data minutia from tweets and status updates will update the new Bing search engine service. In real time. Think about that for a minute.
The pair represents the hugest trove of real-time and content-sharing information, generated from their massive data streams.
The deals with Microsoft will probably include a payment of several million dollars to both Facebook and Twitter, along with various revenue-sharing proposals that would give them a piece of the advertising revenue made from search results.
Doing these kinds of data deals with big search players does make a lot of sense, since it would be hard for both companies to turbocharge their own search engines without running into the big cash-laden guns at both Google and Microsoft, which recently launched the Bing search service.
Check back at this Web 2.0 link later to hear what Qi Lu, head of Microsoft's Online Services division, says about the data-mining acquisition.
UPDATED: Google just announced its own data deal with Twitter, which certainly validates Twitter's insistence that their Microsoft deal would be non-exclusive. Next?