We need better not more
We have all had the “Netflix indecisiveness” moment. You decide you want to watch something, you grab your drink, your snack and embark on the decision journey. Unless you are watching a series and click on the next episode in line, the decision journey ends up being much longer than you expected. Almost always, you choose a movie you have already watched. Recently, Netflix implemented the “watch something” button, which automatically selects something for you.
In this phenomenon, there is an important conclusion to be drawn. The world does not need any more content. It needs curation. Every corner of the internet is filled with endless content, for every niche. What has become exponentially hard is what content to consume. What news source to read, what movies to watch, what clothes to pick, what podcasts to follow and so on.
For the past decade, creators have raced to compel users to consume their content. The role of content selectors has been left to algorithms, which understand what we consume the most and propose similar things to us. There’s one problem: Algorithms operate in the attention domain, not in the enrichment one, they suggest what grabs our attention more. Not what we as humans need the most.
This is why, when scrolling through Instagram, you cannot stop, despite the often low quality content you are consuming. Furthermore, algorithms tend to guide us down a rabbit hole, working against the organic curiosity of the human mind. I know I’ve just watched 23 videos of a melted feta recipe, but my mind actually needs something else.
This might change. Going forward, I suspect that content selectors will be as important (if not more) as content creators. This is because in a world with an abundance of content we need someone to point us to the right content for us. This cannot be an algorithm, but rather a human. This is because we need to trust the content selector, and we need to make the intentional decision of choosing who should recommend us content. Indeed, it will likely not be one person but several. Just in the same way we now follow several creators in order to be exposed to different content, we might follow different content selectors to be exposed to different perspectives, interests, etc.
The intuition behind this is that you are much more likely to watch a movie that your friend recommends, than a movie recommended by an algorithm. It’s because you trust your friend. You trust their judgement and their taste, and know that recommendation has already been filtered by another human.
While now this only happens by word of mouth, and to some extent in newsletters, in the future there might be dedicated functionalities in platforms that enable and support content curation. Quality over quantity, an old saying goes.