What Is A Needlestack? And Why Do You Need One?

I can see this internet movement going places, and it’s exciting.

Damla Ozdemir
4 min readJun 11, 2021
Photo courtesy of Aurélie Cenno, who is a supporter of Needlestacks

The Craving

I have recently been introduced to a concept that I knew I needed in my life, but did not have the right words to describe — or perhaps I had too many words, which is much the same thing. I would say something like: I need people I admire to list out everything that they love best about the internet, all of the weird and wonderful websites that keep them going back online, those little sites that one discovers with a bittersweet emotion… On the one hand, you are grateful that all the conditions were met for you to come across a particular gem, while on the other hand you quickly begin to get anxious about the countless number of things that you are missing out on due to those same circumstances in your life.

I would sometimes come across a list of resources that resembled my need for this vague masterlist of the best of the best, but these were few and far between, usually with less range than I desired — focusing on one theme — and always without a standardized name attached to them, making them very difficult to actively search for.

The Needlestack

That is, until I discovered Ethan Maurice’s concept of the “Needlestack”. It is a play on the famous words, “finding a needle in a haystack”, except this time, the whole stack of links are the needles that are worth our while, carefully extracted from the hay in which they are embedded.

None of us have the necessary time or luck to be able to pick out a very large number of needles, but together we can combine our small, personal stacks of the useful stuff, so that each of us may benefit.

If you feel the same way Ethan and I do about the need to “weave a web of what’s best across the web” as he puts it — then you will want to check out this idea and even contribute to it in your own way, which I will get to later on…

In essence, a Needlestack is a creation made to satisfy the exact craving that I have been ranting about. It is a place to store the cream of the crop when it comes to your internet use. Think about it: The people you admire through a blog, or some other internet presence, must have spent many, many hours scouring the internet, whether intentionally or simply as a side-product of the Digital Age. This especially goes for your favorite content creators, who most likely search the remotest corners of the World Wide Web for inspiration and material to use in their own content.

What if we could get Needlestacks to become a trend?

What if every creator whom you admire for their taste and creativity had a similar collection as a page on their personal website?

How much more fruitful would our internet surfing become?

The possibilities are very exciting to me, so I want to contribute in my own way by starting a Needlestack. I will make another post about that when it is ready!

Until then, here are the other Needlestacks that are mentioned on Ethan’s site:

  1. CEDAR: we deal in creativity.
  2. Jessica Mathews on journalism and essential nonsense.
  3. Runaway Photographer — to Travel & True Love

I hope that more will be added soon.

Starting Your Own Needlestack

I bet you have a whole list just waiting to emerge from your fingertips, if you would simply type it up! Plus, you can add on to it later, editing it as your tastes evolve. In fact, that is kind of the whole point of this mini-project.

If all of this sounds interesting to you, it is time for you to create a page on your personal website dedicated to your Needlestack. If you don’t have a website, then you will want to do that first — after it is set up and running, it will all be worth the effort.

There are some key guidelines for creating a Needlestack that Ethan has put out, and I agree with them. Here are his words:

  • Good intentions are key. Your Needlestack should link to what you consider the best pages on the internet, otherwise what’s the point?
  • Stack your Needlestack however you see fit. No need to follow my format, be creative with it.
  • Affiliate links are cool, but are a slippery slope. Only include a link if you truly consider it one of the best things on the internet, not because you might receive money if someone clicks it.
  • Be specific with your links. For example, podcast episodes and blog posts are more specific than podcasts and blogs. Link to the best of the best, we can explore from there.
  • Update your Needlestack whenever. Your Needlestack can evolve with you and your future remarkable internet encounters.

I would say that the most important point is to be authentic about your selection. Don’t just try to appear cool or interesting. Offer gems from the heart. That’s what this is all about.

As I share my journey of creating a Needlestack with you on my Medium blog, I would also love to see what you create out of your own “remarkable internet encounters”. Send me a private note with a link, or leave a response for others to see!

⭐️ Follow for more content on the things I consume and think about! ⭐️

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Damla Ozdemir

Duke University ’23 w/ a degree in Linguistics 🏫 Worldschooling/Unschooling ✏️ 9 countries, 3 continents, 2 boarding schools, 10 languages 🏫