Staying in the loop: a voyage of discovery

Apricot’s mission is to help users focus their time on the most relevant content. But not just any content; it’s not about search or real-time communication. What Apricot is all about is staying in the loop.


Brian Kent


April 7, 2023

What is it about social media that makes it so hard to quit?

With all of the problems social media has with mental health, clickbait, toxicity, extremism, privacy, etc., it seems like we should have abandoned it a long time ago. But we haven’t. Why not?

My theory is that social media is indispensable because it has become the way that we stay in the loop.

Staying in the loop

It’s one of those things that’s easy to spot but tough to define. ChatGPT defines staying in the loop as:

to remain informed or up-to-date about current events, developments, or ongoing conversations, typically in a specific field or context. It often implies actively following news, updates, or discussions to maintain awareness and not be [sic] left out of important information or decisions.

It’s tempting to equate it with geopolitical current events, but that’s not what I think most people are really interested in. For most of us, it’s more about things like:

  • seeing the latest photos of the grand-kids,

  • reading/watching/listening to trusted commentators digest news and trends,

  • discovering hot new shows to watch on TV,

  • keeping a finger on the pulse of trends in our profession, and

  • seeing job posts, real estate listings, or for-sale ads as soon as they’re published.

Why do we feel such FOMO a strong desire to stay in the loop? That’s above my pay grade, but I suspect it mostly comes down to two reasons: participating in a shared social context and quickly identifying risks and opportunities.

What’s not in the loop

Because the idea of staying in the loop is fuzzy, it’s also helpful to delineate what’s not part of staying in the loop.

  • Content itself

  • Search

  • Real-time communication

A brief history of staying in the loop

The evolution of how we stay in the loop.

The tried and true method to keep up-to-date with things is, of course, talking directly to other people. It’s a fundamental part of our existence.

Many people who grew up before the internet stay in the loop with the morning newspaper, the evening news on network TV, and maybe a radio show on the drive home from the office. Each of these outlets is a single company with one editorial team, curating the items they think will matter to their audience across a wide range of subjects.

With the rise of the internet, we began to seek content from a broader variety of sources. RSS readers were born to help us keep track of our favorite sources and to avoid having to click all around the web. RSS readers require extra work from the reader, though, for little benefit. They quickly fell into a niche market.

Instead, it was social media that took the world by storm in the late 2000s, quickly becoming the dominant way to stay in the loop for almost everything. No need to belabor this point—almost everybody on the planet knows how pervasive social media is.

Surprisingly, the humble email newsletter also made a noteworthy comeback. Now, every content platform wants us to subscribe and follow not only on social media but in our inbox as well, so they can bombard us with messages they know we can’t ignore.

Staying in the loop about staying in the loop

I’m not alone in realizing the value of helping users stay in the loop. Spotify recently overhauled the home page of its app to emphasize discovery. In a great interview on the Decoder podcast, Spotify exec Gustav Söderström laid out the reasons for the change:

When we ask users what they love…what they really say is, “The more new things you show me, the more new things I find, the more I’m going to like this product”… Discovery is kind of the lifeblood of Spotify. If you take that lens, then you should expect us to try to do everything to improve discovery.

Substack also announced just this week that it’s going in a similar direction, adding a product called Notes. Their rationale:

…Notes is designed to drive discovery across Substack…Our goal is to foster conversations that inspire, enlighten, and entertain, while giving writers a powerful growth channel as these interactions find new audiences.

Reddit’s product updates in March also seemed oriented toward discovery, with new feeds specifically for reading and watching videos and a more streamlined interface to make it “easier for people to find relevant content”.

You get the point.

The next revolution

All of these efforts face an insurmountable obstacle: they only help you to discover content on their own platform. A key part of staying in the loop, though, is finding the relevant stuff across the web. And that’s exactly where Apricot comes in.

Apricot’s only mission is to help you stay in the loop. Follow content from a variety of text, audio, and video platforms, interleaved into one personalized feed. State-of-the-art AI prioritizes the most relevant content and summarizes content to help you see through clickbait headlines. And, coming soon, a Discover page of our own, to help you find things you didn’t even know you were looking for!

Check it out—discover Apricot at and stay in the loop!