There’s another problem with ‘trending’ — it gets the value-distribution relationship of information almost exactly wrong. People go on the internet to be told something they don’t already know; ‘trending’ presumes that people go on the internet to be told whatever their peers have already read (which they will inevitably hear second-hand from those selfsame peers if they haven’t already read it). If there’s any valuable popularity-based ranking, it’s boosting the visibility of things that are high-quality but little-known (which might not specifically require curators: upvote/downvote buttons let us identify how a story is ranked, and we could easily boost stories with high average rankings but low popularity). Curators focusing on the strange & little-known also are more useful than curators who focus on summarizing what’s already popular.

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Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software.

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