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Owning Our Interests

/ 3 min read

A bookshelf containing media of various different types, books, art, comics, and vinyl records, all arranged in square cubes.

i just read Cassidy Williams’s recent blog post, “I miss human curation” and it really struck a chord in me. i’ve been thinking a lot about algorithms, curation, and intent.

Right out the gate, Cassidy zeroes in on one of my biggest gripes about our reliance on these algorithms:

The “For You” pages of the world are right, I am interested in that content, but I’m not seeing it from my friends, or that one author I like, or that random blog I found when I was learning about an obscure hobby.

She hits the nail on the head here and to be honest, i’d go a step further and say that it causes these feeds and FYPs to feel soulless and empty. It feels like i am being summarized by an AI system and determining what i’d like without ever really knowing me in the first place. i don’t think that an LLM is the solution for anything other than engorging content consumption.

i don’t want to just consume content: i want to connect with art and knowledge. i want to follow people and topics with intent. i want to feel like i own my own interests and share them with just as much determination.

When we first started dating in 2013, my spouse Chris and i would share music with one another and listen in my 2008 Scion xD as we drove around San Francisco. They’d introduce me to Bay Area hip-hop that they grew up with and i would share my interests in queercore and acid trip-hop. We shared TV shows and movies that each of us loved and learned more about each other in that process.

Last year, when i was visiting Him while still living on the west coast, Sir Aditya and i sat down one night after He learned that i never really listened to The Smiths — i was always more of a fan of The Cure — and He played “Some Girls are Bigger than Others” and other songs off “The Queen is Dead,” as we had just learned that Elizabeth II had just died.

Sharing music and art that is interesting and timely has such a lasting impression and generates and reinforces a feeling of true connection. When all we have to entertain and inform us is a firehose of information, doesn’t that cheapen the experience?

Cassidy sums it up here:

You can curate it to a point, but companies design these systems this way on purpose.

It’s the antagonism from the companies that bugs me. It’s the creeping surveilance that they introduce and the way they will fight tooth and nail for the “right” to our identities.

We’re all stuck straddling personas across various feudal states vying for power over one another and ourselves. The only answer i have at this point is to focus on my own curation and sharing content with intent with my partners and my friends, both online and off.

i want to know more about my friends and to be more connected with them. i hope this year sees that trend continue and deepen.

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