This. Interview to Andrew Golis on the new one-link-a-day social media

As many people I know, I feel addicted to social media — which is kind of normal: being online it’s my job — and overwhelmed by of the restless stream of information I’m exposed to every day. That’s why I was very curious and interested when I first read about This. a new social media Andrew Golis is creating that will allow users to share one and one only link per day. Relevance, quality vs. quantity, focused information vs. general stream. What a relief. I immediately got in touch with Andrew for an interview to know more about it — at the moment, it’s a closed beta.

(I published a shorter version of the interview, in Italian, on my Social Media blog on Vanity Fair Italy.)

Could you describe This. in a few words for our readers? What is about, will it be free, with registration, will it live inside Atlantic media online properties?

This. is a social network for finding and sharing great links. Users can share one link per day, follow other users they think have great taste, and give thanks for the great links they find. The product has been incubated inside of Atlantic Media, but is completely independent of any of its editorial brands.

When and how you had the idea of This.? Was it a sort of reaction for the ‘too-much-information’ feeling that we all have facing the endless stream of social media?

Our goal is to build on all of the rebellions we’re starting to see to The Stream, the never-ending cascade of chatter that dominates most social sites. Specifically, in describing the need I have as a consumer, and the opportunity I thought that implied, I told a colleague that I wished that I got an email each night from my friend and colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates each night that just said “this”, with a link.

Can you tell us more about future future development? When the beta will be open or what will be the next steps and when?

The site right now is in an invite-only beta. We have a lot to learn and tweak before we try to open the site up, so we’re keeping things intimate. For now, the community is largely an extension of my own online community. There’s no specific timeline on when that will change.

Could it be a way to fight against FOMO syndrome that we all have, knowing that we can’t read everything and be in touch with everyone? Is a sort of a ‘less is more’ approach?

Exactly. The Stream overwhelms us with recommendations of things we might like. The goal here is to get fewer recommendations from fewer people who we really trust.

Do you think a lot of people are waiting for a product like This.? Are we already tired of being overwhelmed by information?

The response so far has been exciting. On the one hand, I think there are a lot of people who feel left out of some of the benefits of the social media boom because they have non-media, non-tech full time jobs and can’t spend all day sorting through it. On the other hand, even the people spending all that time sorting through it wish they had a better way. So the time feels right.

It seems the concept that lies behind This. is that online we’re not interested anymore to quantity but quality. The only opinion that matters online are the ones that are expressed by someone I trust. For instance, speaking of online reviews, who cares if 100 customers write a restaurant s great, if I don’t know them and their taste? Is this the beginning of a phase two in the social web, where relevance becomes mre important than numbers?

I do think that there’s a way in which mass social media aggregates a lot of weak signals into a recommendation: “lots of people thought this was pretty good, you should check it out.” That’s the logic of Hollywood blockbusters, in which success is getting a lot of people to like something a little bit. There’s always also been another way: create a stronger signal from more particular people. We’re trying to build the mechanics to bring people the best stuff, not the stuff a lot of people think is pretty good.

Probably you can’t do big numbers with a niche product like This. What are your expectations, also in terms of sustainability and future business plan? Any plans to localize it in other languages?

We’re so early in this process that any predictions or plans will look silly in retrospect. I feel confident that if you can win the trust of people who really care about the time they spend with media, there are a lot of ways to turn that into a successful business including both high-end advertising and subscriptions. But we’ll see!

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