The Future of Search Is Boutique - Deepstash
The Future of Search Is Boutique

The Future of Search Is Boutique


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The Future of Search Is Boutique

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In a world of infinite information, it becomes important to organize the world's trustworthy information.

The opportunity in search is not to attack Google head-on with a massive, one-size-fits-all horizontal aggregator, but rather to build boutique search engines that index, curate, and organize things in new ways.

The problem, now is not what to read/buy/eat/watch/etc., but figuring out the best thing to read/buy/eat/watch/etc. with my limited time and attention.


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Vertical search aggregators

Vertical search players like Yelp, Expedia, Zillow, and Behance fill functionality and relevancy gaps using structured data specific to their industries

Relevance depends on the sociology of the current moment

A combination of irrelevant filters, ad-based business models, and unconstrained supply has overwhelmed consumers and made it hard to find signals

Vertical search aggregators work when you know exactly what you want. But knowing what you want isn’t usually the starting point, which creates an opportunity to help the overwhelmed consumer with better discovery and curation along the funnel.


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The conversation around curation has been too focused on the content and not enough on the structure.

Curation, when thought of in the context of sharing bite-sized, isolated bits in feed-like architectures, is predominantly about entertainment, not utility.

The opportunity is in moving curated content feeds away from their never-ending-now orientation and toward more goal-oriented interfaces. People should be able to find whatever content they want on their terms and not be beholden to when the curator decides to publish.


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All curation grows until it requires search, and all search grows until it requires curation.


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Boutique search engines are next-level curation

  • Searchable, curated interfaces will help us move away from ephemeral, time-bound feeds into contextual, high-signal, trustworthy knowledge spaces.
  • Unlike vertical search aggregators, boutique search engines feel less like the Yellow Pages and more like texting your friends to ask for a recommendation. They have constrained supply, which is the foundation for their biggest moat: trust.


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Over and over again, curation sites fall into an existential trap. They start with high-quality, curated recommendations.

As they grow, they scale with crowdsourcing, often filling the gap with scraping. The line between curator, compiler, and cataloguer is thin.

A natural invisible asymptote - diminishing returns on more data over time


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  • Platforms like Twitter delegate this responsibility to their users, who have to go through a long and arduous process of following a huge number of people to ultimately arrive at a self-curated timeline that mimics their interests.
  • Some centralize their curation, while others stay away from curation in favor of more traditional crowdsourcing.


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The project of human knowledge, as it stands today, is a vast ocean of fragmented information and ideas, with the best sources near-impossible to find. We need more interfaces with a point of view on what information is missing, how it needs to be organized, and at what point of the value chain the curation has to happen.


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