We were cleaning up our storage room the other day and I rediscovered some of the old vinyl LPs from my youth – Dire Straits, Madonna, T’Pau, Crowded House albums, along with several Martine St-Clair LPs (what can I say, I had a crush on her as a teen!).  While looking at the albums, my wife and I discussed what to do with them.  We don’t have a record player and we now listen to from our CDs or our mobile devices.

But I figured one of the albums might be of interest to my seventeen year-old son – Dire Straits, Brothers in Arms.  Not because I wanted to make him listen to what “good music” sounds like. Rather, because he already listens to this music, which he discovered on his own.  How did this happen? What I find interesting is that his love of older bands and musical genres comes from various sources, including through his own exploration, with his friends, of different musical genres.  YouTube gives him helpful nudges every once in a while – who hasn’t listened to something because a computer application suggested that they might like something similar.    And because of that, the music he listens to doesn’t fit into a neat category.  He’s just as likely to listen to Ron Sexsmith as he is to Daniel Bélanger, or to some obscure Japanese song that must have been similar to something else he likes!

In the span of 30 years, we’ve gone from a very linear, programmed approach to discovering content where somebody, like a MuchMusic VJ guided us towards new material to one where influences can come at us from all sorts of directions.  So who will be the curator who guides us in exploring this new world.  And does that curator have to be human?

P.S. As I expected, my son was quite pleased to take possession of the Dire Straits LP.  We just need to find a record player!

I’m old enough to remember going to channel 4 to check out what was on TV in the next 15 minutes. Of course, I’d get tired of waiting and click ‘Go Back’ on my remote to go to the last channel. I can’t be the only person that kept missing when the next episode of Friends was on, but hey, all part of the experience, right?

And I still have fond memories of checking the TV Guide Magazine and filling out the crosswords in the back (I was so sad when my parents stopped their subscription).

But today… Today I don’t need to wait to see what TV show is coming up at 8 p.m. I don’t even care what time it is. I have Shomi. CraveTV. Netflix. YouTube. And if all else fails, Google. I don’t need to worry about missing the latest episode of Mr Robot.

But I still stress about what to watch next. I have a list a mile long of TV shows and YouTube videos recommended by my friends. “You have to watch this!” “This show is SOOO good.” “OMG how have you not seen this yet?”

Word of mouth is great. And Netflix recommendations are on par with Amazon. But sometimes it’s overwhelming, and sometimes all those recommendations aren’t quite what I’m looking for. I want to find something that makes me feel the way I did the first time I watched Degrassi. Or I want to find something that feeds my need to feel uber Canadian. It’s tough. There’s so much out there.

Discoverability is about making good content findable to the people that want to find it.

How do you find content in the age of abundance? Who – or what – is going to help me? What helps you?

So why 2 “pre” events?

We could have jumped ahead to the Summit and maybe we would have saved time. But we didn’t. Why? Because we want a meaningful solution to a problem that’s not simple.

I’ve been watching reruns of Trailer Park Boys on Netflix lately. Tired of the same old, I did a quick search on Google to find similar shows (search term: “shows like trailer park boys”) and this is what I got: a gallery of shows that are – you guessed it – similar to Trailer Park Boys. Awesome!

This is just one way one company is trying to help us find the content we’re looking for.

But I still struggle with how to find a quiet, clever, foreign movie that has subtitles. And I still have no idea how to find a local indie band that sounds like M83. “Content in the age of abundance”… I know there’s plenty of content out there that I’d enjoy. I’m not convinced I’m always finding it.

So what’s the solution? Or solutions? This is what we’re trying to find out, and that’s why we’re spreading it out over time.

We’re holding two “En Route” events first. Think of these as a part of the theme song to a movie. They set the tone and establish the mood. They’re the foundation for the Main Summit Event; the movie, if you follow the metaphor.

And here are three reasons why we’ve chosen this format:

Reason 1. Not all markets are created equal!

Both “En Route” events have the same themes and questions. Montreal will tackle the French markets and Vancouver will tackle the English markets.

If you’re at all versed in these markets, you know just how much they differ in industry participants, in habits and in dynamics. They are not equal; they are unique. We recognize that. And we want ideas from both our French and English friends.

A side note: yes, we’re looking at our French- and English-Canadian markets, but we’re still interested in international markets, too. Heck, our keynote speaker for the Montreal event is from France! We want to know how other countries make their content searchable to us and how we can make our content searchable to them.

Reason 2. Sleep is magical.

Time is magical too. Ever struggled with a problem or an idea only to find it solved by sleeping on it? Or waiting a few days and then suddenly realizing that you knew the answer all along?

We’re looking for those “aha!” moments too. So we’re putting distance between the En Route events and the Main Event so that everyone has a chance to ruminate on the ideas and discussions from the Montreal and Vancouver events.

Of course, we also want to give the world a chance to respond to what comes out of the “En Route” events. Don’t forget to put your word in too – you don’t need to be an “expert” to have an amazing idea. Ultimately, we’re trying to improve discoverability for everyone so we need your input if this problem is going to be solved in a meaningful way.

Reason 3. *It’s a secret.*

The “En Route” events aren’t secret per se but they are invite only. They’re invite only because we want to make sure that we get perspectives from experts in different fields: psychologists, academics, engineers, marketing gurus, digital specialists, producers, directors, musicians… And just to be clear, we’re not just inviting the usual suspects. This isn’t about what they want. It also doesn’t mean you can’t be part of the events either: they’re being live-streamed, you can comment on the Community page and we’ll be using Twitter throughout the conference.

These events are about helping you find content that you care about.

 

So what do you care about? What do you want to find? How do you find it? Is it even an issue for you?

Let us know what you think about the issues around discoverability.