Korede Aderele
korede [at] drexel.edu

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exploration vs consumption in apps

Dec 24, 2018

i want to isolate some key elements of why certain apps are better suited for exploration than consumption. i’ll use a few different apps i use as case studies on this: twitter, are.na, instagram and spotify (trying to do non social-centric apps as well)… might also try netflix, esp. as contrasted with tradtional cable TV.

it’s worth noting that explorative vs consumptive nature of apps is less of a binary and more of a spectrum e.g. an app can be 20% explorative and 80% consumptive.

here’s some of the key elements i’ve got so far:

  • both consumption and explorative apps might possess some kind of feed property
  • with consumption-oriented apps, you can largely start consuming bootstrapped content once you sign up/open the app (kind of like traditional cable). but with exploration-oriented apps, you have to do a little more tailoring of your feeds before you really get value from it, there’s a bit of a learning/adoption curve to them
  • after fleshing out these models concerning the actual presentation of content on such apps, i think the next key distinction to make is in the content itself:
    • consumption oriented content incentivizes reactions of some sort through likes or comments
    • exploration oriented content incentivizes more linking and reference sharing, with Are.na being a prime example of this

      there’s a bit of a blurred line here though, some of the activities provided by apps don’t cleanly fall on either side. a good example is twitter’s retweets and quoting (or “retweet with comment”). where an RT could be a random reaction or a share sans context/endorsement and alternatively could be a sort of linkage for use in other discussions

other thoughts

the netflix vs cable contrast is interesting in that netflix’s dominance can be largely ascribed to it’s giving users the ability to explore their content instead of just passively consuming it according to channel schedules in their TV guides. i think this is a prime example of a pattern of disruption in the content space; services that enable a transition from passive consumption to more active exploration and content discovery.

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