The Importance of Curation

Updated 5 months ago.

  1. It’s important to know your inputs.
  2. There are two options for this…
    1. Manage them yourself
    2. Manage them algorithmically
  3. Self-management is arduous. Algorithmic management is easy. But, self-management is intentional and precise: you’re in control of what’s in front of you, and when you’re reading something it’s because you made a decision that the input it came from was valuable. Trusted. Algorithmic management introduces the opposite: you don’t know what you’re exposed to and can’t control whether the voices you read are trusted, but the input required is minimal.
  4. There’s a trade-off between effort and quality for our inputs.
  5. There’s an analogy to photography. Phone cameras use algorithms to get surprisingly good at taking photos that look fine. They often look quite good…but they’re not comparable to a photographer doing the same work. However; the photographer has to
  6. train. There’s a trade off between effort and the quality of our inputs — and there’s a promise that algorithms can approximate the skill gap we have when we haven’t put the effort in.
  7. There are some drawbacks to using algorithms in place of skill.
    1. Algorithms aren’t skill. They approximate it. By and large they’ll get close to the real thing, but can’t match it.
    2. Relying on them gives you results without needing to train. That results in not knowing what’s being done to achieve the result, so a learning opportunity is lost. In a way the promise of using algorithmic skill replacement is that if you don’t care to learn, you have an alternative that gives you something good enough.
    3. Our inputs aren’t worth compromising on. The comparison to photography breaks down here: if a photo’s “good enough” we can be satisfied, but not being in control of whether our inputs are trusted can leave us at risk. Inputs matter more.
    4. Algorithms are more readily prevalent because they’re more attractive to a company producing them. They can be marketed, offered as subscriptions, and improved on year-after-year because a) the sales pitch of “you can succeed too: just buy our product and you’ll get better results, no effort required” is much sexier than “your tools are no substitute for your time”, and b) the approximation is not quite the same as the real thing by definition, so there can be a new release every year getting incrementally — but asymptotically — more like the effortful ideal, and c) the skills required to build them are more present in a software company than the skills required to build the tools a skilled person might use.
  8. Unfinished, I’m afraid.