When I was a child in Norway quite a few decades ago, I experienced a dearth of content compared to today. There was obviously no Internet, there was one TV channel that only broadcast in the evenings, and only two radio channels.
One of my great joys was going to the library, where of course I checked out favorite books (I remember reading every single Agatha Christie novel), but I also picked and read dozens of books more or less at random. This meant starting and abandoning some truly awful works of fiction, but also many great moments of content serendipity – finding something interesting, moving, and/or instructional to read, by simple fluke.
It seems to me we also had more time to be bored when I was a kid. Boredom is also a great motivator to seek out content. If there isn’t much to read on a rainy fall day, you are more willing to give that magazine article you originally skipped a second chance. More content serendipity.
With the current state of information overload most of us live in, a lot of people, myself included, have turned to content tailoring. I have been very optimistic about this, picking and choosing what content I am exposed to to in effect create my own tailor made radio stations for music, turning Google Reader into a tailor made news stream for my interests, etc. RSS is a great invention!
However, something happened to make me rethink my position on this. I recently started using a service called Delivereads. Once you set it up, the service sends a collection of curated articles to your Kindle about once a week, ready for consumption.
My first reflex was that there should be some kind of article categorization and subscription, so you could pick what kind of articles you would get.
I was completely missing the point.
I have received two collections from Delivereads so far, a total of 8 articles. They have two things in common:
- They were very well written, interesting, moving, thought-provoking, you name it. I was happy to have read each and every one of them.
- They were from publications I don’t have in my Google Reader feeds and that nobody I follow on Twitter is likely to tweet about. In short, there is no way I would have read them without Delivereads.
The articles sent by Delivereads are curated by a guy named Dave Pell. I just went to that page to get the link for you; I haven’t read it myself. I don’t want to know who he is (sorry, Dave!). I don’t want to know what criteria he selects articles by.
And I don’t want any kind of article categorization or content tailoring. I just want to experience those great moments of content serendipity – feeling my bubble in this world stretch and burst with the richness of experiences and ideas out there.
TL;DR: Information overload leads to content tailoring strategies, which leads to a dearth of content serendipity and, if we are not careful, lives that are a lot more isolated and a lot less rich than they should be. Delivereads.com can help fight the condition!