Over the past few weeks I've seen posts and articles about 'curation' popping up all over the place.
First up, Aaron Straup Cope at this year's Museums and the Web presented a paper titled 'Buckets and Vessels', looking at curatorial practices ranging from Flickr Galleries to Newspaper Club. (See the slides from Cope's presentation) He argued:
People are not suddenly self-identifying as curators. Rather, what we are seeing is a growth of tools being made available to allow people to exercise a curatorial muscle many people never knew existed, even if the results don’t always look like something we’re used to.Cope cited Pete of New Curator's March 2010 article 'You are not a curator'. Pete argues for the difference between filtering (sifting and aggregating data) and curating, which in the comments he says begins with "providing meaning".
The difference between aggregating (picking) and curating (adding meaning) is a sub-current of Robert Scoble's lengthy post 'The seven needs of real-time curators'. Scoble sees a market gap to build tools that will let people aggregate, weight, and visually represent data from all over the web in a way that's meaningful to them and to others.
Then a post a few weeks ago on the Nieman Lab site caught my eye: Calmness, curation, cat porn: Dave Eggers’ joys of print:
“I want a printed newspaper curated and edited by professionals that have been in the trade for decades,” Eggers said. “I am in eternal deference to expertise.” Eggers likes the idea of branded — which is to say, vetted — news outlets shaping his view of the world. “I entrust my daily news input to the professionals,” he said.
Finally - another MW2010 paper, this one by Nate Solas on 'Hiding Our Collections in Plain Site: Interface Strategies for "Findability"' about a website re-design intended to help with the problems faced with surfacing large amounts of digitised collection items.
What's the pattern that I see here? You could say "ways to defeat information overload", but I refute that term. Close your eyes. Switch off the tv. Shut down the browser. Or - find people and tools that reliably take you to things that are valuable, entertaining, expanding.