ANow Profile | Abbas Raza, Founding Editor of 3 Quarks Daily,
In this profile episode, Fredrik Weibull interviews Abbas Raza, the fascinating man who is the founding editor of 3 Quarks Daily, a niche website for intellectual content curated from all over the internet.
In this episode Fred Weibull interviewed Abbas to learn about the origins and intentions of 3QD, the reasons behind its extraordinary commitment to public service and the emphasis on the art of curation over content production. Abbas expands on 3QD’s process of locating and discerning content, about the organisation of the editorial team, scattered across the world and the particular work discipline and practices of a skilled curator.
A key element here departs from Herbert Simon’s idea of an “information-rich world”:
“In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently.”
The website has been running since 2004. It is focused on curating content from the humanities, social and natural sciences and has since consistently provided a daily flow. Six days a week it offers curated content. Once a week – on Mondays – 3QD offers original content through its digital Magazine. Run by Abbas along with five editors, the site covers the range of Politics, Poetry, Literature, Philosophy and the hard sciences.
Now in its 15th year 3 quarks daily occupies an interesting place in the world of ideas, which belongs neither to the intellectual establishment institutions nor its commercial media counterpart. Yet it is frequented by the intellectual elite, indicated by endorsements from the thinking world’s upper eschelon, including from Stephen Pinker, Clay Shirky and Richard Dawkins.
The media niche 3QD occupies has been described as follows:
“[to]collect only serious articles of intellectual interest from all over the web but never include merely amusing pieces, clickbait, or even the news of the day… to find and post deeper analysis… and explore the world of ideas… [to] cover all intellectual fields that might be of interest to a well-educated academic all-rounder without being afraid of difficult material… [and to] have an inclusive attitude about what is interesting and important and an international outlook, avoiding America-centrism in particular.” (thewire.in).
ANOW Profile is a show format which aims to engage in depth with individuals who are intellectuals or have significantly contributed a cultural deed. We think that Abbas qualify doubly! The emphasis is less on the biographical aspects but rather on the ideas and aspects of 3QD’s cultural contribution. The interview took place in 2018.
Having explained the abundance of original content as the basis for the need for skilled and dedicated curation Abbas speculates of 3QD’s future.
What is the future of 3QD? Where do you see it heading? How does this fit in with the future of content and curatorial content-creation?
One testimonial puts it thus:
“The cross-disciplinary curatorial website 3 Quarks Daily represents a pocket of humanity in an increasingly amoral, algorithmic internet.”