Curation for the Win


Benedict Evans is my new favorite tech writer. He sees the world in the same way I do, except it’s his full-time job to observe and analyze the trends that he finds.

And his analysis is stunning.

He writes in this piece that Lists are the New Search, which I think is a good title to a post, but I think he’s not quite on the mark.

I think lists (curation really) is the future of service.

People don’t realize that we’ve passed the point of being able to parse everything cool out there. Not as regular people. The only people who will be doing that will be the curators, i.e. the experts in a given field whose job it is to create lists for other people.

So there are two kinds of people:

  1. Curators who sift through the thousands or millions of options in something and then produce lists for people to use

  2. Consumers of lists who benefit from curation

Importantly, curators of ‘best tomato soup recipes’ will be consumers of every other type of list, like best shows to watch, best podcasts to consume, best outfits for this fall, etc.

The 99.9% are consumers of lists, and the .1% are the curators.

Rating a service

Anymore, the quality of a service will simply be the quality of its curation and the skill that it employs in presenting them to you.

  • At the low-end this will be clean design on a website

  • At the mid tier it will be solid AI assistants giving recommendations

  • And at the top tier, actual assistants (augmented themselves by AI helpers) will consume and present lists for you

Big data is our friend here. Big data will inform AI assistants and real assistants that the best breakfast for you today is this, the best outfit for you today is this. Etc.

And it might occasionally (but not too often because it uses cognitive energy) ask you to pick from between two options of equal quality, just to make you feel like you’re part of the process.

But the sign of class and style and conscientiousness will move from being some sort of style and wine expert to being smart enough to pay for top-end curation services that recommend the best in the world at every moment.

Look for it.

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