The Web: Filters on Top of Filters

In January, John Gruber linked out to a Jason Kottke interview who characterizes the web as filters all the way down:

It’s much easier to find interesting things to read and look at online than it used to be…the web is now largely filters on top of filters on top of filters.

The quote struck home for me, as I’m sure it did for Gruber as well.

Because a lot of what we do is to curate and filter the web. MacRumors happens to filter against Apple news and rumors. If that’s the topic you are interested and you like the content we filter, then MacRumors is a great fit for you.

That’s not everyone’s goal, of course. Traditional journalists probably don’t see themselves as curators of the news. In fact, the term “aggregator” is now used as a derogatory comment amongst news blogs. The suggestion is that there is no actual value to the act of aggregation, and that it’s just the piggybacking on other people’s hard work.

Of course, that’s not entirely true. Aggregation or selective curation has perhaps always been the biggest problem on the web. Google made huge strides in curating search results. Google didn’t own any of the content they were presenting, but the simple act of organizing it was enough to launch a multi billion dollar company. But nothing’s ever black and white, so there are obviously plenty of examples of abuse.

Still, I like this view of the web as being filters on top of filters.

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