Curating for yourself, curating with others

Replied to The Memex Method – Cory Doctorow – Medium by Cory Doctorow (Medium)

Clay Shirky has described the process of reading blogs as the inverse of reading traditional sources of news and opinion. In the traditional world, an editor selects (from among pitches from writers for things that might interest a readership), and then publishes (the selected pieces).

But for blog readers, the process is inverted: bloggers publish (everything that seems significant to them) and then readers select (which of those publications are worthy of their interests)

I much prefer following people to publications, and curating for myself what’s interesting out of what those people have curated for themselves. There’s a good bit of noise, but there’s also a lot of serendipity — neat things I would never have encountered on my own, that I wouldn’t have thought to investigate.

While news publications focus on appearing neutral, people (bloggers and newsletterers) have opinions and share context often missing from news articles. I *want* others’ opinions, especially from people who are better informed than I am. I’m interested in news and information as it relates to people, not as discrete incidents. I care more about the trends and the roots of an event, which are all too often left out of the news. Individuals are publishing from a rich, deep, broad perspective in a way publications cannot have, the same way corporations and brands are not people (no matter how they exploit their social media managers).

See also:

Article pairing: stop reading the news

Overlapping Communities, “Curated” Discovery between Real People

Finding Personal Websites

Algorithmic recommendations create “curiosity ruts”



(More from the same Doctorow piece.)

Relationships The Internet

The value of friction

Bookmarked We can’t thrive without friction by David Hansson (

To prevent a relapse, I’ve replaced the free-for-all of the thunderdome with connections mediated by friction. The kind of friction the internet had since its inception, but that has been outrun by the virulence of the frictionless social media variants.

The most important of these mediated connections have been through email. Both sending it, like this, but also receiving it from the small minority of readers who because of the friction took the time to write thoughtful, polite replies of both encouragement and disagreement.

In 4000 Weeks Oliver Burkeman too puts social value on friction, though more in an offline than online sense. He points out that we try to increase our convenience and make things as easy as possible by cutting out people – but we’re realizing how important community and connection is, and that it’s worth the extra effort to interact with people and let ourselves be part of a community, even if that means giving up some control over how we spend our time. Giving ourselves over to what the community needs from us: Anne Helen Petersen wrote about learning to be part of her community last fall, how she let a friendly stranger in her new hometown help her deal with a flat tire instead of calling AAA, and now is starting to volunteer to help others. Our humanity may make us less efficient than using an app or self-checkout, but ultimately connecting with other people makes up for the “lost” time, enriching life for everyone. I’ve been reading a lot about friendship over the past year and one suggestion about expanding on your existing friendships that keeps coming up is inviting friends to join you in the day to day of life – errands, hanging out while you do chores, etc – recognizing that everything’s more fun with a friend, and also that this friction of the annoyances or needs of daily life *is* life.

Friction is a screener for caring. In the social media world of endless, effortless interactivity, adding friction gatekeeps your own time and mental health, raising the quality of the interactions you do have while limiting them to a reasonable number. I used to list things on Craigslist for $20, then give it to people for free once they showed up, because being willing to pay anything screened out the (worst of the) no-shows. Having a small hurdle cuts out dealing with people who don’t really care.


Work Mode as Protest

Quoted A Big Walk, Book Success, Work as Protest — Roden Explorers Archive by Craig Mod (

“One of the big fumbles (sort of) of my 30s was concocting a false narrative that went something like: We need someone on the outside (read: in a position of “power”) to bestow upon us the permission to be or be able to do X…”

“It was only once I hit a few dozen walls and failed to “publish” in the “way” I thought I “had” to publish, that I then — finally! — began to think more creatively around engaging with and owning my work and the space within which I was working.”

“…A certain kind of work, lifestyle, mode of living — in and of itself — is protest. That is, work that is curious and rigorous is implicitly an antipode to didactic, shallow bombastity. It is inherently an archetype against bullshit.”

Craig Mod

I feel like Craig’s got a point here that syncs with my feelings about just going for self-publishing and trying to build my own thing. Where I have such strong feelings about work and worker’s rights and capitalism, it’s pushing me towards an older mode of work, a more creator-centric approach to trade.