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Zite: Is a Personalized Magazine Good or Bad?
By: Tristan Pelligrino
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One of the trends in application development these days is personalization. As users navigate the Web, applications collect personal data and serve a more personalized experience. Your viewing habits essentially shape your online experience and dictate what type of content is in front of you.

Recently, I checked out Zite and downloaded the iPad app. Zite presents itself as a “personalized iPad magazine that gets smarter as you use it.” In order to tailor your experience, the app collects data as you use it. Zite claims to track the following:
  • What you do and don’t click on
  • How much time you spend on a piece of content
  • What sections you add to your magazine
  • What sources and topics you pick for personalization
  • What you share from Zite and distribute using Twitter, Facebook, and email
Check out the introductory video below:

Zite: Personalized Magazine for iPad
from zite.com on Vimeo.

After using the app for a few days, I wanted to compare the experience to Flipboard, one of my favorite iPad apps. The user experience with Zite is relatively similar to Flipboard except for the “flipping” of pages. You can add categories, hook into your Twitter account, add content from Google Reader, etc. For now, I haven’t experienced a noticeable difference in the type of content that I have available. Frankly, I’m not too sure how much of the experience is customized. It just seems like everything is in line with what I would normally read.

So, this presents the question: Is personalization a good or a bad thing? If you aren’t presented with content that is outside of your comfort zone, do you miss it? As more and more apps build in personalization, do we then become boxed into a corner? Are we shielded from ideas and thoughts different from our own?

Well, these thoughts sparked something. I decided to check out the Web and see what data was out there about the good and bad of personalization. I stumbled upon an article on CNET News discussing a book titled The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding from You. I haven’t read it yet….but it’s on my list. Does anyone else feel personalization is an issue with the digital solutions available today?

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About the Author
Tristan Pelligrino is a marketing director, producer, blogger and co-owner of 522 Productions and 522 Digital. Connect with him @tpelligrino
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