MMOs are a good place for anonymity, message boards are not. The difference is that the first is recreation and the second is information. Information is too valuable a commodity to allow people to spread it anonymously. For an example take the 4Chan stunt where they rigged the voting in the Time 100 Poll to make the top 21 spell “Marble Cake Also The Game.” While this stunt was cute, it robbed us of the opportunity to see what Time readers actually felt were the top 100 most influential people in 2009. Even though this stunt is not a particularly big deal, it does show that information can’t be trusted in the hands of the anonymous.
Hunch is an example of what the internet will become; a collection of personal and social data that makes a seemingly endless sea of information seem like it was created just for you. Today, Hunch announced that they will cease allowing people to surf and use their website without logging in. Caterina Fake (co-Founder) in an interview for TechCrunch reported that logged in users were getting results that were 20 to 30 percent better then users who were not logged in. This doesn’t surprise me at all, in fact it’s core to one of my theories about the future of the internet. Yesterday I posted the paragraph above as part of a little rant about how a better internet will surface (here’s how I described a “better” internet in a previous post). I assume that Caterina (originally a Pittsburgher) and Chris Dixon (a fantastic blogger), read my post and immediately decided that they needed to discontinue anonymous, unregistered use of the site in order to create better information.
This move will result in better information being fed to Hunch as well as better information being given by Hunch. It also has two nice side-effects. While Hunch is entirely an individual sport at the moment (you can have friends but their choices do not effect yours), a firmer relationship between user and information will open up the use of social data. The other side-effect is making it easier to imagine Hunch monetizing their progress. After all, an identity is a potential customer. All in all, a beneficial move for those of us who use Hunch regularly. Hopefully, this is yet another step in its transformation from nifty toy to practical decision model.
Note: Chris Dixon’s blog post today is about Pivoting and starts with urging you to ask the question, “if you had it all to do over again, what would you change?” Think that’s how this change came about?