Apple news and the curation problem

What is your platonic ideal of the news?

For me a perfect outfit, on a perfect day, would post one sentence: “nothing happened today.”

Go read a book. Grab a beer with friends.

Unfortunately, modern media is not predicated on informing us only about what is important. Or respecting our time. Rather, they seek to monopolise it.

On a day when nothing happened they would still find something to shove in your face. Apple’s subscription news model will only make this worse.

The plan is to charge users a flat rate per month for access to “hundreds” of newspapers and magazines. Publishers will apparently receive a share “according to the amount of time users spend engaged with their articles”.

In other words, publishers will have little incentive but to be as loud as possible. And to cover everything under the sun. They will be paraded and rewarded for catching our eye.

There is no incentive to engage in curation – publishers will have no direct relationship with customers. Apple will be curating further down the stack, but while it may be looking for “quality”, it has used total content consumed as a positive metric.

I won’t be signing up.

We don’t live in a world where nothing will happen. But there is a next best – subscribe directly to people who value their own time enough not to waste yours.

Create a limited stream of content, populated only with those who value similar things.

I do this through RSS feeds and newsletters.