Michael Gingras

Interested in lots of things, but mainly -- crypto, browsertech, and interfaces.

Indirect Curation

September 16, 2019 product

In the past, I’ve written about Curation as a Service, an offering in which someone or something would get to know your personal preferences, and would recommend new content *for you*. In this post I will describe a new approach - one I am calling “indirect curation” for it’s ability to curate without any one actor realizing they are contributing to the overall curatorial effort.

Songs, podcasts, movies; all of these are hard to define in search without specifying a direct output. By this, I mean it is easy to search when you have something in mind; if you want to search for an exact song it’s easy to find it. But when exploring new tastes, how do you put your preferences into words?

Let’s begin by exploring what the “Top Charts” are for any content related service. In effect, these lists have simply curated the most popular items on any given platform, but the scope is global, and the only dimension in which they are curating upon is global popularity. When interests become more niche, global charts fail.

What if we were able to curate charts from specific subgroups found online? I identify strongly with small sub-communities, the ones you might find on subreddits, for example. Let’s consider r/trap, my favorite music subreddit discussing the current state of trap music. In this subreddit, members often contribute song recommendations, but what if there was a top charts, as you would find on Spotify global charts, but just scoped to what members of that sub-community were currently listening to. In effect, we would be scoping the curatorial efforts from a global set to one that is immediately more identifiable with my interests.

Additionally, this curatorial effort is ‘indirect’, in that members of the group would not necessarily have to consciously contribute to curating content. Just by restricting the set of members whose habits contribute to the overall state of popular content, you are proxying what might be on interest to other members who are drawn to the same group.

This could work outside of music too. I’ve found myself drawn to Hacker News because the community captures the essence of why I am drawn to technology in the first place. What if I am looking for a new podcast, but I’ve exhausted the usual suspects found in my library. I want something tech/vc related, but what do I search? Aside from “top tech podcasts”, there isn’t much more I can do without a tremendous deal of digging, but if “indirect curation” existed for podcasts on a platform like hackernews, I could simply see what other members of that community were listening to, and since I trust that the HN community is a community of members that likely have similar interests to mine, I would be able to quickly find new content that fits my interests.