I can almost always find something useful in a most popular list. For a long time I thought, if the list is properly regulated it can provide all that you would ever need when searching for content, but as time passed I found more evidence to the contrary. Now curated streams of content are turning out to be way better at giving me content I actually want to consume. Popularity lists, can be a great tool, and for a long time I thought it was a panacea of getting the best content. If a list is properly regulated, and is a minority list. Such as top 50 indie bands, versus top 50 all around artists, it was useful to me. I found lots of great stuff using most popular lists. But, now that I have been building a system for curation, I am slowly realizing, that they aren’t the best system, curated streams of content are the best.
Take music as an example. I like popular music, music off-the-beaten path is nice to. It would be a bad idea for me to say that any label placed on music, external, or otherwise, is what make the music interesting to me. What matters more is if I like it or not, I for one, can’t keep up with labels, but my taste in music will always be able to tell me if I like something or not. This is why top 50 lists worked for such a long time, labels didn’t really matter, I just new that I would like some of it. I seem to have an ear that likes popular music. I like that it changes, I like the narrative of pop music. People who know me think I am kind of a sap, for liking popular music, that’s fine. But this has led to the fact that popularity lists have always been a good starting point for me when it comes to finding new music that I like.
While I can get by with the billboard top 50, it doesn’t churn enough for my liking, so as music blogs rose, I relished sites like hypem.com that tracked the most popular music on blogs. I have been using the hype machine for years now. Recently something grabbed my attention, whenever you “love” a song they show you other users who “loved” that song. They have had this feature for awhile now that allows you to follow other users, but for whatever reason I didn’t really use it. Until they showed me inline the other users who loved songs. I started following users who had loved the same songs that I did. Now, even with a very small network, like 5 or less, I am really enjoying the stream of songs. On average, I like more songs from the stream then I do from the most popular list.
I still listen to the popular list, but I think it only works well because the hype machine limits the blogs it follows to a subsection of the total blogs.
Now, as I look to the future, and see video coming down the pike. We need services to help us slice, and dice video content. One such site is nowmov, they show you the most popular videos on youtube. It just goes from one to the next, like TV, wink wink. Its good, and there are probably many people who are looking for this type of experience, one like TV. But, this is just a popularity list, they will probably build in some better algorithms, and it might get much better, like pandora for video. But, I am going to bet that curated streams will beat nowmov, on a personal level, it’s not a zerosum game.