Mar 31, 2015 · 2 minutes

Techmeme is nice. A bump from Reddit or LinkedIn is a traffic goldmine. But our CEO Sarah Lacy has repeatedly told us that the only curation she cares about is getting on Jason Hirschhorn's REDEF newsletter. And with good reason -- Hirschhorn's taste is unimpeachable, and his daily selections across media, tech, music, sports, and fashion verticals are so good that the overused cliche "must-read" doesn't do them justice.

But the web offering of REDEF has always been a bit of an afterthought -- until today. Hirschhorn has just relaunched Redef.com with a beautiful new interface that includes personal profiles, a full suite of social features, and a much in-demand leaderboard. A beta version of the website is available today, and Hirschhorn says that if all goes as planned an iOS app will be released in thirty to sixty days.

So how did a newsletter evolve into a full-on social platform?

"The content plan was always [to be] a destination and an application," Hirschhorn said.

The new Redef is much more than a newsletter ported to a webpage, however. In addition to "mixes," which are like infinite versions of the newsletters' industry-specific content collections, Redef offers "sets" which Hirschhorn describes as finite "playlists" or "mixtapes" centered around a theme. Last week, for example, the site published a set of the best oral histories of movies, ranging from Boogie Nights to the Godfather.

The biggest shift put forth by the new Redef is toward social. The site includes a broad set of social functions, including following, favoriting, seeing what friends are reading, and auto-syncing with Pocket, an app for saving articles and reading them later on mobile or desktop.

"We wanted to make sure we’re not just layering in the social as a way to go to viral," Hirschhorn said. "There had to be some chaos."

Indeed, the challenge of making users stick around on what's essentially yet another link-based social network is a huge challenge. Sites like Potluck and This were very well-conceived and well-designed, but after an initial surge in interest from media insiders many users dropped off. Hirschhorn hopes his site will possess more stickiness to users by eventually allowing them to self-publish, not unlike Medium. Another attractive feature Hirschhorn plans to roll out soon is called "Curious Minds." This feature will assign users scores based on what they read, while giving them the opportunity to boost these scores by, say, consuming a more well-rounded media diet.

When Andrew Golis launched This, I wrote that in the wake of Ello and other worthless "Facebook-killers," here was a Facebook alternative that actually made sense. In a way, REDEF makes even more sense: Like This, it's a place for smart people to share smart links. But with a human and authoritative curatorial voice guiding the content offerings, not only will users never be at a loss for finding great stories, but this curatorial expertise will likely trickle down to the community, which will in turn organically share stories that don't suck.

"It's not about the crowd," Hirschhorn said. "It's’ about a brand we’ve created and our curators."

And with Twitter too crowded, Facebook too inconsequential, Hacker News too specialized, and Reddit too, uh, Reddit-yI'll definitely give REDEF's new community-based link platform a chance to worm its way into my reading routine.