Buzzfeed, and Twitter on the future of media [Wired 2013]

Wired 2013 logo

Wired 2013 logo

The third annual Wired Conference kicked off today with a rousing session about, perhaps not so ironically considering Wired’s heritage, the future of media.

Four incredibly different speakers from the youthful “you can smell smart on him” Nick D’Aloisio of / Yahoo! fame to the comedic style of Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti mixed with Quartz writer Kevin Ashton and Deb Roy, Chief Media Scientist for Twitter (a very well deserved title) all graced the stage.

Buzzfeed popped up some impressive stats (80-million uniques per month, 50% of which view from their mobile device and 60% being 18-24 years old).

As it increases its reach (it launches in Brazil tomorrow) and invests in both investigative and long form content the future for this content powerhouse is anything but certain — one thing is for sure however with 75% of traffic coming from social sites, its heritage in understanding the human condition and what it takes to pass something along can’t hurt it.

Nick D’Aloisio is an impressive speaker for his age — he discussed what the path of his career to date has been (he’s 17 by the way) and what his hopes for the future are. D’Aloisio is excited for the future of Yahoo! and cited several times how much innovation and culture change is happening. It’ll be exciting to see what he does next and who he will inspire at Wired’s Next Gen event on Saturday where he will be speaking to young teenagers about similar topics.

Deb Roy is a man who understands numbers and words, and how they connect. Describing how he wired up his entire home with cameras and tracked his child’s language development using data visualisation drew a few gasps from the audience, but his explanation was nothing short of fascinating. He worked at Bluefin and now Twitter where he continues to aid the broadcast work it is doing. He showed multiple visualizations of how tweets spread and how additional data tsunamis may give a hint at a future for Twitter that will have surely excited the marketeers in the audience.

Overall the theme was refreshingly positive with technology somewhat taking a backseat and speakers focusing on the human behind the black box and how the future is about testing boundaries of human understanding as much as it is algorithmic. That should make Conde Nast pretty happy.

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