Discoveries are meant to be shared

One of the best things about finding something first (a piece of music, a new fashion style, an important article) is the feeling that you own it.

Nobody else knows about it (at least from what you’ve seen) which means you can share it and get credit for it as the source.

The Internet is the great facilitator and destroyer of discovery

The paradox of sharing content is that it obviates exclusivity.

When stories get publicized, especially amongst your tribe, they get shared fast and find people who are genuinely interested.

You may detest this rapid absorption. Someone can easily make the content their own with a fresh tweet or blog post. Even a retweet or reblog emulates an original share.

Digital ownership is transient and a bit, socialist — the Internet owns your words.

The thin window for exclusivity in a hyper-connected, social world, can still be a fun challenge for the digger. The curious never stop discovering, always about hunting for the next interesting gem.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you find it first. You still need to convince others why they should appreciate that piece of content too.

The royal road to exploration is social. You can keep the promise of discovery all to yourself, but the world is colossal, and knowledge is meant to be shared.

Books Productivity & Work Tech

What do we read next?


We suffer from the infinity of choice, to what type of books we’re interested in, all the way down to the format we want to read them in.

Amazon’s recommended book algorithms allay the frustration of making decisions by taking into account your past reads and what others have read to suggest what to consume next.

Algorithms (or recipes) therefore resolve two things: Indecision fatigue caused by the avalanche of choice and the wisdom of crowds.

Spotify Discover Weekly works the same way — after it gets to understand your habits and preferences it recommends prebuilt playlists to appease your taste.

Algorithms free up our brain space to do rather than toggle between the options. They are the antidote to the chaotic linear 21st-century feed.

The more time we spend consuming rather than selecting what’s next is time well spent. By outsourcing our digging, we create more time to learn.

Even the proactive tastemaker must yield to the occasional “if and then” statement to build on top of the symphony of algorithms. A remix is not always artistically lesser than its origins.

In an increasingly algorithmic world, there can still be an element of human touch to prove we’re not headed toward complete thoughtlessness after all.


Good Tips

People pay for curation today, not the content. The content is cheap and mostly free.

Apple just have away a U2’s new album. You can already stream any track you want on Spotify, YouTube, and SoundCloud. Unless you’re reading the Financial Times or the Wall Street Journal, there’s no paywall preventing you from getting free news. Meanwhile, Amazon is pushing for an all you can eat books model as part of their Prime service.

Free content means that what people are really paying for are the quality of recommendations thy get in return. Peer recommendations don’t suffice.. You only want to consume the good stuff that master curators spend the time to find.

What made Songza different than the rest of the music streaming networks was its handpicked, contextual playlists based on time of day. Echo Nest plans to turn Spotify into a recommendation engine. What makes Amazon so good at recommending books is its smart algorithm.

The wisdom of crowds theory that said that the best result is the summary of what everyone is looking for is dead. People don’t want to be manipulated by mainstream culture. The best services will find out what niche genres a person likes and make long-tail recommendations around those. Make the users feel like they found it first.

Content and curation are BFFs. The two go hand in hand. The act of curation gives content it’s true value. People just want to hear about the good stuff and ignore the rest.


Discovery 101: Lean In Vs. Lean Back

When it comes to information and music I’m more lean in than lean back. Everyone is interested in these topics but most people would rather consume them from the top-down rather than playing the part of curator/influencer and actively searching for them.

For example, most people prefer to listen to the radio because it takes the stress out of deciding what song to hear next. Actively building playlists takes a lot of time, especially for someone that just uses music to enhance their mood. The same can be said for news: most people would rather get all of it from one source like the New York Times.

The 90-9-1 rule of social media says that 90% of people just consume the feeds, 9% curate them (e.g. retweet), and 1% of users create original content. Lurking along is easy. Curation is hard. But creativity is harder.

Everyone needs a ‘lean in’ topic where they get to show their expertise. It doesn’t have to be tech news or electronic music, as I tend to discover and share. It just needs to be seething you’re passionate about. There’s a niche online for everybody.


Li Zhenhua: ‘The curator stands between the artist and the audience’

via giphy

“The curator stands between the artist and the audience.”

Li Zhenhua

See your ideas

Arts Culture Tech

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Algorithms curb the discovery process. Amazon tries to recommend you books. Pandora examines your listening behavior to recommend music. tries to introduce you to new art based on your preferences.

Algorithmic predictions feel a bit like Google, crowdsourced information that displays results for what the masses are also looking for in the aggregate.

The information, art, and music DJs that really know their stuff ignore algorithms altogether. They have trusted sources and spend the time to find new and emerging sources to pluck gems from. These curators master the art of showing people what they know people will like and what they think people will like.

I believe everyone should research at least one category of art and dig into it as much as they can. That means scouring the Internet for niche blogs, listening to obscure podcasts, seeing what the DJs are recommending, and following influencers on forums and on Twitter.

Discovery is an active process, not a passive one. Turn off mainstream radio and find something new or rediscover something old. The real gems lie in the nooks and crannies. Predict what’s next, not what’s now.


Late Discoveries


“Once you make the New York Times the whole world news about it.”

As much information there is on the Internet, we can’t know everything.

The world is full of interesting places, people, and things that go undiscovered until a big publication like the NYTimes exposes them.

Most people wait to be told about new stuff only to complain when they experience it. It’s “too busy, overcrowded,” they say.

The masses follow the masses out of mimetic desire. If you want to make the first discovery, you have to be proactive about searching.

We can’t know everything. But we don’t need to lean on mass curation either.


I meet Tumblr whizz-kid David Karp

Much as modern dance music is made up of samples, and postmodern art made up of “found” objects, re-assembled by the artist, Tumblr is about using the found to say something different.

Curation is the new kind of creativity. You don’t necessarily have to create original content to be recognized as a creative type. You just have to be excellent at remixing disparate things into holistic stories.

This is what DJs do, after all. 

Arts Creativity

Curation is the new creation

Curation is now a desired profession, mostly because it has shifted from unearthing rarities in libraries and music crates to digging through the plethora of online content to find the most remarkable stuff.

Curators spend hours vetting material so the rest of us can save time.  But that’s also why self-discovery is so gratifying.

Often times we find something that hasn’t been curated yet and we love it for that very reason.  The discovery is our own.

Most of the time we’re surveyors of art and merely pin, tweet, and Facebook what a curator has already plucked for us.  We curate for our friends and followers.

Curators are not creators but get appreciated the same.  Curators have a good eye for art and how it gets displayed. It’s an art.

But we need curators to educate us beyond museums and into online.

Whether you’re creating or curating, innovation is recognized no matter where it comes from, how it’s found, or how it spreads.