The return to now

“Gone from our feeds is the feeling of now-ness that made the real-time web so enthralling for many of us in the early days of the social media boom. This does not seem to be lost on the major social platforms.”

In the past two years, we witnessed the algorithmically ranked News Feed that Facebook popularized colonize most of the remaining social platforms of influence. (With the exception of Snapchat…for the moment.)

In a sense, our feeds have always been algorithmically ranked; they’ve just been dominated by one variable in particular: time. In a simple reverse chronological feed, the punishment of bad behavior is left to the user — in the form of the unfollow or unfriend. That’s work, and as these platforms scaled beyond early adopters, it’s likely that most new users, rather than doing that work, chose to use the product less. So today, machines do that work for us, and all that’s left for us to do is Like, Comment, or Follow new people.

So now we’re lost in time. Gone from our feeds is the feeling of now-ness that made the real-time web so enthralling for many of us in the early days of the social media boom.

This does not seem to be lost on the major social platforms. “Messaging apps are now bigger than social networks” (though they are also, of course, owned by the social networks). On the back of major improvements in bandwidth, mobile processing power, and mobile battery technology, they are making major investments in Live Everything. Stories have changed the game for Snapchat and Instagram, and they don’t fit neatly into our understanding of “the feed.”

Breakout hits like the trivia app HQ remind us of that feeling of now-ness and community that once was pervasive. Sure, games tend to feel like flashes in the pan, until we look back and realize that embedded in that flash were the embers of some new truth. What can news organizations learn from a shortform live video experience broadcast at the same time every night (as eerily familiar as that sounds)?

Humans crave intimacy and connection, and that intimacy feels somewhat lost in the Age of the Feed — where presence has taken a backseat. In 2018, news organizations that want to stay a step or two ahead of the game might want to focus less on optimizing for a constantly changing set of Feed Rules, and think more about experimenting with Now.

Jake Levine is a venture fellow at betaworks and a former general manager of Digg.

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Jake Levine   The return to now

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Dan Newman   A return to trust

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Errin Haines Whack   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Burt Herman   Things get real

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Paul Ford   Go global

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism