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On “curation” and getting caught up in terms


“So like there’s nothing for you to curate without creation? This precious bit of dressing-up what people choose to share on the Internet is, sure, silly, but it’s also a way for bloggers to distance themselves from the dirty blogging masses. You are no different from some teen in Indiana with a LiveJournal about cutting. Sorry folks! You’re in this nasty fray with the rest of us. And your metaphor is all wrong. More likely you’re a low-grade collector, not a curator.”

Choire Sicha: You Are Not a Curator, You Are Actually Just a Filthy Blogger

Gonna curate some links in the meantime.

Saw this yesterday, found it to be a bit of a talker, wanted to write up a response. First up: Choire has been at this long enough (he worked at Gawker nearly a decade ago) that he’s arguably an elder statesman of blogging, along with folks like Andrew Sullivan, Josh Marshall and a couple of others. That automatically makes his opinion valid enough that we should listen, but I’m sure in a lot of ways it gives him a different take on this whole thing than someone who got into this in, say, 2008 or 2009.

So let’s take on this term. “Curation.” The first time I ever heard someone use the term in relation to Web content was in 2009, when Robert Scoble wrote this great piece about how “curation” was going to be a billion-dollar industry, once someone figured out a killer product that made it really stupidly simple to organize our thoughts into one piece. Not long after that, we got Storify, and, separately, Tumblr sort of became the place for this style of link sharing. I don’t see a billion dollars yet, but the basic idea seems to be catching on. (And no, it’s nothing like curating art. Big deal.)

But here’s the thing: I don’t think anyone is actually trying to “class up” their work by using this term. (Well, maybe except for the dude quoted in Choire’s piece.) These “curators” are just using different techniques than people were using a decade ago, and someone threw out that term one day, and it stuck.

And it’s happened before, too. Do you know how long pre-digital journalists bristled at the term “blogger” around 2004? I’m sure there’s some middle-aged newspaper columnist somewhere who once wrote a column titled "You Are Not a Blogger, You Are Actually Just a Terrible Journalist." Do we need to rehash the purist’s argument every time someone does something a little differently? I’m sure the telegraph guys were pissed when they were shown the telephone for the first time.

So let’s get down to it: You’re not a curator, but then you’re not a blogger, either. You’re just a person with an internet connection who uses it to communicate. The quality of the information you share, report, or comment on is what matters. Not the term. — Ernie @ SFB

June 2, 2012 // 20:10 // 2 years ago
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