The Information Overload Era
Internet has hands-down reshaped the human society and everything it touches in as unparalleled a way as it could since its inception, but have you ever wondered, if the whole Internet is something tangible, what’s the weight of it? Well, according to Vsauce, a YouTube channel, the weight of all the electrons in motion that make up the internet at any one moment is equivalent to 50 grams, pretty much the same weight as a strawberry.
And this tiny little strawberry is producing text, audio, video and all types of contents in a speed that the content produced in a single day can feed one person for at least 100 years. That’s why people concerned about information overload, just too much stuff out there.
And that’s just the scenario in Web 1.0 era, after entering into the Web 2.0 age, where everyone is enabled to create and spread their own contents over the internet, compounded by the proliferation of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Sina Weibo and Renren, it’s getting worse for those who followed a large amount of sources on these services with ever-coming non-stopping notification of “You’ve got a new message”.
The problem is, by following numerous sources of information online, how much valuable and desirable can you get? And even though you do get the desirable information, but at what cost? Time? Energy?
Weifaxian (or 微发现, MicroDiscovery), a Beijing-based startup founded by Chris Kong, is rising to the challenge of freeing people from the information anxiety by introducing an interest-based discovery engine to help people get whatever they need and filter out whatever they don’t need.
Chris graduated from Bristol University with a PhD in machine learning and data mining. Prior to his foundation of Weifaxian, he worked in Microsoft engaging in high-performance computer (or HPC) project, a term wildly used before the introducing of cloud-computing.
His past experience motivated him to found a project to make something innovative and unique to solve the side effect of Internet – information explosion.
First Social Discovery Service Based on Discovery Engine
Weifaxian is the first generic social discovery service by a five-person team, Chris told me.
One common problem social media users concerned is that, what if I followed someone for just certain kinds of information, but s/he is really a big talker with all kind of stuff that I’m actually not that interested? For example, as an entrepreneur you followed some VC on Sina Weibo, but it turned out they twittered a lot about their personal life, summer vacation, weekend parties among other topics, with once a while several investing-related posts.
Now If you’re using Weifaxian, the app will try to understand your tastes for contents through your usage to streamline your information stream by providing you with just the contents it believe you’ll interested, in Weifaxian it’s called your personal “Discovery Stream” (pictured below). The app will only fetch the information – those regarding investments – and show them to you while ignore the others – or so-called noisy information by Chris.
Linked with Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo and Tencent QQ, Weifaxian will get to know your tastes through tracking and analyzing both your explicit and implicit user behavior with the app, such as repost and comment sth; start following or remove someone and so on.
And user behaviors aren’t the only attributes used to figure out someone’s interests, said Chris. The app will also recommended whatever it believes you might like based on the contents you produced (literally, said) online.
The team was founded in this March with an angel round of RMB 3 million (US$ 473,328).
It’s just a start to build on top of Weibo services. The discovery engine that shaped Weifaxian is simply a layer underneath while what’s under the hood is a generic social discovery service that could easily be expanded into other territories.
“A complete social graph is consisted of three elements: people, relationship and activity.” said Chris, “while Weifaxian as a social service its people, relationship and activity are all born to be encoded with interest-DNA so each user has his/her interested-DNA which is initiated roughly by hands and then automatically adjusted towards great detail by algorithm according to his/her every single behavior.”
What Weifaxian is embarking upon, is to picture everyone’s interest graph and help them to interact with the very crowd that interesting them as well as with the topics they’re interested in. Minimum noise and maximum benefit, nothing more nothing less.
It’s a grand vision, and also a long way to go for the newly-founded startup.