What is a Smart List?

Smart Lists are websites that are good at understanding what type of content you enjoy. The first thing that comes to mind is Facebook, Tiktok, Youtube or even Netflix. These platforms are all good at hyper-personalized content. But, these are not intuitive ways of consuming content. The algorithm is designed to keep you on the platform for as long as possible. Much less, to show you the most relevant piece of content.

Doesn’t social Media do the same thing?

Social Media is good at showing you the content that your friends are sharing and talking about. But, this detracts from our individuality.

For a second, imagine that every time you hung out with your friends. Everyone could suggest the next activity, except you. You’d begin to feel left out. Frustrated, even. Social Media tends to do the same thing to us. Except, we don’t even know it.

Back in the day we had RSS feeds. RSS feeds were made redundant by social media. And Social media came along to replace RSS feeds with a vengeance. As a result, social media killed our ability to curate content. The user had the ability to tell the content aggregator what content they wanted to consume. Now the content aggregator tells the user what they should consume. Most times, we don’t even question this. We press like, double tap or swipe up.

Before I continue, I’d like to set the record straight. I am not advocating for us to all abandon social media and turn into raving mad content consumption maniacs. Social media is great, in moderation.

What’s the alternative to social media?

Here is an alternative to Social Media: Smart Lists. These are content aggregators and in some cases they try to replicate the look-and-feel of Social media. Content aggregators find and categorize content. They tend to specialize in a media type for example: Books, Music, Movies, Articles, Podcasts etc.

You might even use some of these aggregators already. They differ from social media because the user has full control over what they consume. They’re still helping you find content that you may enjoy. But, instead of starting from 0 and optimizing for addictiveness, they’re optimizing for relevance. Here are some example websites:

Goodreads and Oku will recommend books based on what you’ve already read.

IMDB and Letterboxd will recommend movies based on movies you’ve enjoyed.

Spotify and Apple Music create playlists based on music you’ve already played.

Feedly and The Old Reader allow you to follow blogs like you’d follow a person on twitter.

I’ll be honest. Smart Lists are less fun than Social Media, but at risk of sounding like your grandfather, that’s a good thing. Smart lists take your interests and use them as a basis for recommending similar content. This is a simple change. It will allow you to consume content that is beneficial to your well being.

Are there any other cool content aggregators out there? Let me know: [email protected]

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