Algo-powered curation

By Felix Salmon
January 12, 2011
Paul Kedrosky has a great little essay today on the way that curation is set to be the new search, since the utility of the old search is steadily declining.

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Paul Kedrosky has a great little essay today on the way that curation is set to be the new search, since the utility of the old search is steadily declining.

Google’s ranking algorithm, like any trading algorithm, has lost its alpha. It no longer has lists to draw and, on its own, it no longer generates the same outperformance — in part because it is, for practical purposes, reverse-engineered, well-understood and operating in an adaptive content landscape.

Kedrosky rightly points to Twitter as one powerful source of curation, but there are and will be others:

The re-rise of curation is partly about crowd curation — not one people, but lots of people, whether consciously (lists, etc.) or unconsciously (tweets, etc) — and partly about hand curation (JetSetter, etc.). We are going to increasingly see nichey services that sell curation as a primary feature, with the primary advantage of being mostly unsullied by content farms, SEO spam, and nonsensical Q&A sites intended to create low-rent versions of Borges’ Library of Babylon.

I’m enthusiastic about this to the point of being downright conflicted: I’m involved in putting together one such nichey service myself (on which more anon), and can’t wait for a whole ecosystem of such things to arrive.

Up until now, publishers have tended to be suspicious of anything which is built on the idea of sending people away to algorithmically-generated corners of the internet which aren’t all carefully vetted. But if you can get over that conceptual hurdle, there’s a very exciting world out there which has barely been explored at all—a world of vibrant websites whose content is powered by algorithms but still produced, curated, and edited by very smart humans. Techmeme is a good example; there will be many, many more.

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