Two Young Leaders start new project to curate the internet–and cure your hangover!

July 25, 2018


Anyone who craves a customized list of the best content on the internet, without having to go searching for it, will enjoy the newest venture created by creative types Michelle Miller (YL ’15) and Melinda Wang (YL ’16).

Michelle, a novelist and TV writer, and Melinda, a contemporary art curator and attorney, choose a topic each week and scour the internet for interesting articles, videos and tidbits that “never require more than 50% of your brain to consume”—and hence, can be enjoyed even while nursing a hangover. Some recent topics include Cleopatra, the World Cup, Bitcoin, Banksy, and Saturday Night Live.

Michelle and Melinda met in Paris during the 2016 French-American Foundation Young Leaders program, where they quickly bonded over common interests. Here, they share with us how the project came together and their vision for how things will move forward.

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How did you come up with the idea behind The Productive Hangover?

Over drinks, of course! We’d met in Paris during the Young Leaders program and immediately got along, then stayed in touch in New York, always with the vague idea that we should do something together at some point. So one day at Soho House, Michelle was bemoaning the self-loathing that always accompanied her uselessness the day after one-too-many-glasses-of-wine, and Melinda was remarking on an internet black hole that had consumed 6 hours of her last Saturday to a purpose that was unclear. The two dilemmas combined toward a mutual desire for someone to curate those internet black holes, and tee them up to be easily consumed during periods of otherwise-wasted-time, and voila: The Productive Hangover was born.

When is the best time of the week to enjoy this newsletter? I imagine there are a lot of Saturday morning readers.

We send the email out every Sunday at 10 a.m. Eastern to ward off the Sunday Blues, but we’ve always suspected people would use it during non-hungover periods, and we’re fine with that. We picked the name because we like the branding it affords, and because the URL and Twitter handles were free, but its primary purpose is to be an uplifting break from the news and dip back into liberal-arts education; a conduit to great podcasts, articles and video content; and a sure bet for sounding smarter at your next cocktail party.

The topics you’ve picked are wide-ranging. How do you choose what each week’s theme will be?

Between the two of us we have so many curiosities that our brainstorm list is about a thousand pages long…..! But we narrow down the topics based on the quality of the content we can find – often, one of us sees a documentary or a painting or an article that really grabs us, and we grow a topic from there. We’re also really thrilled to be getting in-bound ideas from readers now, and to be connecting with experts and brands to write guest lists about their passions.

What are your goals for this project over the coming year?

For now, we’re most focused on giving people things to think about that aren’t as depressing as the news! In all seriousness, it has been humblingly nice how well it’s been received since we launched earlier this summer, and how many people are already joining in to send contributions and ideas.  As such, we’re definitely starting to think bigger — to more specific verticals, to partnerships with other platforms, individuals and brands, and to how we can connect people with one another for discussions about the themes we pose.

What we both ultimately love about it is how pure it feels — just curiosity and learning for the sake of curiosity and learning, and there’s something really exciting to us about building a community around that sentiment.