Does Hyperpersonalization Impede Innovation?

Hyperpersonalization Minimizes Exploration

I was at a conference the other day about the future of the enterprise. Of course, my crazy futurist side kept on talking about how the enterprise itself is an outmoded concept of work, and in the not too distant future, all types of work will be carried out by more loosely connected individuals, who come together for a project, then disband. But that’s a topic for another post.

One of the speakers at the panel prior to mine mentioned something about hyperpersonalization – which of course is completely on its way – with more and more data collected about what one does from every source, from your actions on your laptop, smartphone, fitness wearables, Apple Watch, and various internet of things devices, like your Nest thermostats and such, being able to determine an exact profile of your needs and wants at any given point in time, it wont be long before we know that cat pictures in your Facebook feed in the morning make you more likely to buy things rather than dog pictures. Our feeds from all sources (although if you think about it, our connections to the internet have really been constrained to only a few sites – Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc) will provide us a never-ending stream of stuff completely personalized not only to our personality, but also to the time of day and the place we are at.

Unfortunately, in this world, there will be no room for surprise. You will rarely get anything new fed to you or anything which pushes the boundaries of your experience, lest you get uncomfortable. And that is the last thing they want.

Back when I worked at Yahoo, I remember the human curators at Yahoo! Music who came up with playlists in specific genres purposely throwing in random tracks which pushed the listener slightly out of their comfort zone, so that they can experience something new – not radical, but new. But nowadays, we think that something is wrong with our feeds when we get something weird and jarring in it. Like a rabid liberal or conservative, we don’t like hearing about things we disagree with. And the feeds reflect that, giving us the safe pablum.

Unfortunately, if you ask me, this chokes off innovation. How can you innovate if you are lying in a safe cocoon of content, never venturing out – never challenging yourself and your world view. Where is the surprise – the little shock that makes you think? In a hyperpersonalized world, it will be gone.

So as my challenge to you – if you want to innovate – break out of the mainstream websites. Stop using Facebook and surf randomly around the internet. Search Google but go down to the 10th+ page, and roam around in there.

Stop being fed. Feed yourself for a change. You’ll never know what innovation you’ll find.

Photo Credit – Sherman Geronimo-Tan / Flickr

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