The Internet has broken longstanding barriers, allowing more and more people to produce content. But thanks to all those extra people becoming publishers, journalists, reporters and writers, there’s so much information out there that it’s hard to find what you’re looking for.
Curation tools are now popping up around the Web in response to this problem. They give you a way of finding and filtering what’s interesting to you, and to ignore the rest. And one of the newest entrants into this field is Topikality, a tool that creates a daily email full of information a user wants to see. The tool is a good one, once it has enough information about you to know exactly what to send you. It’s also surprisingly flexible — it can be used to do everything from monitoring reviews of a cell phone, to finding out what people are saying about you or your company.
Topikality works better the more you tell it. You tell it what topics you’re interested in — by keyword, phrase, or person — and then get a list of articles you might like. Every article Topikality gives to you can be rated up or down, and as you rate more articles, Topikality gets more tuned to what you’re interested in, and sends you better recommendations.
Though it’s still new, information curation is a rapidly growing industry, both in users and applications. Google News recently launched a way to customize your news in a way similar to Topikality — by including and excluding keywords, users can filter news to only see what they’re interested in seeing.
Another site, DailyMe, lets you do much of the same thing, filtering the news to see and aggregate only what matters to you. Twitter, which only recently launched Lists as a curation tool, already has tens of thousands of lists. And sites like Listorious are springing up to curate the curated Twitter. Companies like Tumblr and Posterous, with millions of users between them, are going beyond simple aggregation, working to separate signal from noise on the Web.
Topikality’s potential advantage, in this field, is its constant improvement for the user. Instead of someone else curating information for readers, Topikality essentially lets users do it for themselves, in an automatic and simple way.
These tools aren’t without their controversy, though: there’s been significant debate over this type of filtering, what Journalism Professor Jeff Jarvis calls “hyperpersonal news streams.” Some argue these news streams are a necessity in a world full of too much information; others say that hyperpersonal news creates “echo chambers,” polarizes people, and removes people from their community by only showing them a small subset of information.
Either way, curation tools are increasingly important for people who don’t have time to wade through the information fire hose to find exactly what they’re looking for. Topikality, among other applications and services, is betting on curation becoming the key to sanity in the world of information overload.
The company, founded in 2007 and based in Sydney, Australia, is currently a two-person team.