The internet has transformed what it means to consume content. Newspapers and magazines were, not so long ago, the only way to access articles, as were TV channels for programmes, and, to a lesser extent, the album and the radio station for music. All such channels were inevitably curated due to capacity constraint. A TV channel’s daily output is obviously capped at 24 hours, and a CD, strangely, can hold a maximum of 74 minutes of music. The internet removed all such constraints, and for a while it was assumed that the best online service for any type of content would be the one that provided the greatest choice. Amazon’s initial marketing as the ‘Everything Store’ typified this.
But the supposed advantage of having access to entire libraries of content created a new issue, that of discovery and of overwhelming choice. As anyone who’s ever tried to sit down with friends or a significant other to watch a film from an online library can testify, finding and deciding on what to watch is maddeningly hard. Why? Because there’s so much choice it’s impossible to make an optimal decision, and because of the volume of content it’s also hard to find anything specific.