6 cool curation sites you may not have heard of

So my new thing is curated news sites.  Or curated stories, as they are not all “news” per se.  This was sparked by the death of Google Reader, which depressed me so much that I stopped reading blogs altogether for a while.  (By the way – I am currently using Feedly, but only reluctantly, and…

So my new thing is curated news sites.  Or curated stories, as they are not all “news” per se.  This was sparked by the death of Google Reader, which depressed me so much that I stopped reading blogs altogether for a while.  (By the way – I am currently using Feedly, but only reluctantly, and I’ve discovered I was tired of reading what I was reading, so culled it down to around 30 blogs.  Maybe in a future post I’ll let you know which of those I recommend, that survived the Maddie cull of 2013 ;))

Anyway.  During my time off of blog reading, I discovered (or rediscovered) a bunch of new curation sites, some of which have now become my “morning newspaper time”.  I though you might be interested in checking them out for yourself.

Here they are, in order (most important to least important) of criticalness for starting my day.

1. Quartz  – 100% critical for global news – I don’t get out of bed before I read my daily Qz email. 

“Quartz is a digitally native news outlet, born in 2012, for business people in the new global economy. We publish bracingly creative and intelligent journalism with a broad worldview, built primarily for the devices closest at hand: tablets and mobile phones.

Like Wired in the 1990s and The Economist in the 1840s, Quartz embodies the era in which it is being created. The financial crisis that recently engulfed much of the world wasn’t just a cyclical decline or a correction or even a bubble bursting. It was a breaking point. And its shockwaves exposed a fundamentally changed economic order with new leaders and ways of doing business.”

Read more.

The most different thing about Quartz is its “obsessions“, changing themes and topics of particular interest around global and economic trends.

“…instead of fixed beats, we structure our newsroom around an ever-evolving collection of phenomena—the patterns, trends and seismic shifts that are shaping the world our readers live in. “Financial markets” is a beat, but “the financial crisis” is a phenomenon. “The environment” is a beat, but “climate change” is a phenomenon. “Energy” is a beat, but “the global surge of energy abundance” is a phenomenon. “China” is a beat, but “Chinese investment in Africa” is a phenomenon. We call these phenomena our “obsessions”. These are the kinds of topics Quartz will put in its navigation bar, and as the world changes, so will they.”

2. Launch – 95% critical – the true tech news headlines I can use.

This may not apply equally to you, but I’ve written about Launch before so I won’t repeat the details of how it all works – in a nutshell, Jason Calacanis’ awesome team of researchers scour the tech web and glean all the important details for you.  Some of the news is a little inside baseball to Silicon Valley, but if I am to be a good futurist and analyst of where things are going in terms of social technologies, this is where I’m learning to read the lines so I can read between the lines. So to speak.  And as a long-time subscriber, I can comment on news items and ask for more info.

3. DCist – 75% critical – local news – almost daily read

Now, obviously, this is a local news site specific to DC (with versions for a select few other cities, including Austin, San Francisco, Chicago, London, New York, Shanghai, Toronto).  But I still think it’s worth noting that in terms of my own experience, having long ago ditched the paper subscription of the Washington Post, I still religiously read my local news.  Besides, they have a weekly “Overheard in DC” column with such gems as this:

Shutdown humor

In an elevator in a federal building in Bailey’s Crossroads on the day the government shutdown:

50-something woman 1: “What should I put for my out of office e-mail?”
50-something woman 2: “Just say to contact John Boehner if they have any immediate needs.”
(Both chuckle)

4. Medium – 50% critical – brain food – weekly read

fair amount has been written about Medium and it’s supposedly new paradigm for online blogging.  Here’s what it’s supposed to be about.  Most interestingly for those of us who work with the web on a daily basis, it has a clean, simple white interface (few images, no widgets, no sidebars, definitely no ads of any kind) – and its commenting system allows registered user to comment on individual paragraphs or sentences rather than at the end of the post.

Regardless of all of this, which I am watching but is a moving target, I’m including Medium in my list of curation sites, not blog platforms (even though I have a couple of posts there and hope to write more.)  Instead, though, this site always manages to attract me to browse stories. The weekly email gives me a list of top posts, in such varied categories as Privacy, Books, Science, Fiction, Politics, Food,  Memoir, World, Language (that list was from last week’s email).  I love how it tells me how long a read each story is.  And truly, the quality of writing is pretty awesome.

5. Digg – 40% – for random headlines about cool stuff the internet is talking about


The new Digg is really awesome. I love the Daily Digg email, but while I skim every one, I don’t necessarily click more than a few per week.  Which is fine, of course.


6. Cowbird – 30% – non-work escapism – biweekly read

Cowbird is a beautiful site for stories.  Meaning real stories about people’s lives.  Many are very short, some are poems, some are even audio only.  But the real crux of the site is that it’s a storyteller community, where people can build off of each others’ stories.  It’s a very immersive experience, hard to describe – just check it out if you like storytelling.


7. Sulia – as yet undetermined criticality factor – topical news


I’m adding this one because I am curious as to whether anyone is using it.  I have not quite figured out how useful it is, but it’s basically like Pinterest for news, as far as I can tell.  I keep coming back to it, but not sure yet.

What about you? Are you a Buzzfeed addict?  StumbleUpon surfer? What other sites are you using to get your morning reading from?  Please share, I’d love to check out some others.

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