The birth of the curator

A couple of days back I wrote a post about the death of the browser, to describe what I thought was happening in the emergence of content consumption through apps.

Then today, in reading this fine post by Brian Solis, this part really struck me:

2011 is the year of information curation and the dawn of the curator. Curators introduce a new role into the pyramid of Information Commerce. The traditional definition of curator is someone who is the keeper of a museum or other collection. In social media, a curator is the keeper of the interest graphs that are important to them. By discovering, organizing, and sharing relevant and interesting content from around the Web through their social streams of choice, curators invest in the integrity of their network as well as their relationships. Information becomes currency and the ability to recognize something of interest as well as package it in a compelling, consumable and also sharable format is an art. Curators earn greater social capital for their role in qualifying, filtering, and refining the content introduced to the streams that connect their interest graphs.

I realized how many of the latest offers and proposals we have out with clients are around this relatively new concept of “curation”, i.e. the selection of the meaningful nuggets in a sea of drivel. Robert Scoble is a good example of a curator: he reads a ton of stuff and has a knack for what’s good, so if you want to keep abreast of the hottest tech startups on Twitter, he has a list for that.

Curation is effective also because it can be recursive: I could compile a curated list of curators, and so forth. Of course, curation depends critically on the curator – like any critic, the quality of his/her assessment determines the quality of the end result: henceforth, curated content will tend to gravitate again on the smarter cookies, i.e. those who demonstrate a thorough understanding of the matter.

Another way to put this is that for those consumers who do not want to wade through a sea of inane musings to rather zero on the good stuff, then curation becomes more and more important, beating the pants of any semi-intelligent automated system.

A side effect of the above statement is that perhaps selection through crowdsourcing is on the wane: true, in principle if you get hold of enough monkeys and enough typewriters one of them will write the Hamlet, but it’s quicker if you find a Bard.

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