Hi, I'm Jan König 👋. I'm one of the founders of Jovo, 28 years old, and live in Berlin. < Go back to learn more.

How Meta is Too Meta?

One of my goals for 2020 is to read one book a month. I'm currently reading a book called Ernährungskompass (something like Nutrition Compass), a German bestseller that provides a wealth of information about current nutritional research.

And no wonder it's so successful:

There are 250+ nutrition studies published every day

One of the reasons no one really knows what to eat is that there are so many contradicting studies that come out every day. For all nutrients, there are both studies that praise and studies that demonize them.

This makes it impossible for people who don't study the field excessively to understand what's the current state of research.

The result: An opportunity to go meta

In a seemingly repeating process, layers after layers of aggregations emerge that make it easier to get value out of all the data:

  1. Reviewers aggregate the knowledge in meta-analyses, quantitative summaries that make it easier to get an overview of the single studies that are available.
  2. After a while, there are so many meta-analyses that people start doing meta-meta-analyses.
  3. Next step: A book like Ernährungskompass that summarizes the meta-meta-studies, so you could call it a meta-meta-meta-analysis.
  4. Even easier to digest: Blinkist with its 10 minute summary of the key findings of the book. Meta-meta-meta-meta.

Each of the steps makes it easier to get an overview of the information. This is a concept we're seeing often: In order to provide value in a more and more crowded/fragmented environment, people decide to move upwards the "stack" by investing work into aggregating and curating available information.

In a sense, Jovo is a meta-tool, too. By abstracting away certain things, people don't need to care about single building blocks and can focus on the logic instead of the plumbing. Our upcoming release will make this even easier with a clear pipeline (more on that in a few weeks).

How meta is too meta?

When is there too much information taken away that it's not really interesting anymore?

Users of "meta" products give away control by trusting the aggregator/reviewer that the information is presented in a comprehensive and unadulterated (sorry, too many food puns) way.

However, the more fragmented a market gets, the more opportunities arise that make it possible to go meta and provide a layer that does some extra work. It's similar with software: When a market matures, I wouldn't advise to move down the stack, but rather look for opportunities to provide value upwards (see my Wardley Maps post from a while ago).

Do you know some other examples of "going meta?"
- Jan

Thanks to Julian, Alex, and Alex for the conversations about this topic.

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