Curators have a problem; we steal content. I know we don’t like to put it that way. It’s always nicer to think that we point people in the right place, or we frame content in a new light, but at the end of the day we don’t create anything that could be considered a primary source.While it’s not evil, or harmful it leads us to the biggest problem with curation, and content in general in the coming future: who’s going to create the content.
Who is going to create the content that I am going to curate. I never thought about asking that question until recently. Curation has always been a passing interest of mine even if I didn’t always know what to call it. Curation as a subject has grown in importance to me though. I try to read anything worthwhile that I can get my hands on to get my head in the game. That is how I ran across Curation Nation.
Curation Nation is a book about how curation has come out of nowhere to touch a million different fields. The book can find a way to turn almost any job into a job that requires some form of curation. The book really is a great one stop shop for a bird’s eye view at curation. I wouldn’t say that it has anything in it that you couldn’t figure out by reading bit’s and pieces on the web. In fact, the author, states many times that much of the book is based on interviews that he tapped, and then had transcribed. I would almost rather have access to those interviews then this the book. It seems to me almost a travesty of curation to not make them available.
Anyway, this book is kind of the beginning of a long curation ark. Before I even knew what curation was, or more pointedly before I thought curation applied to me, I was reading great stuff. The reason I had great stuff to read was due to curators. One of my favorites is Jason Kottke. Some how, meaning he spent almost a decade, unpaid, learning how to find good stuff online, he always found the best shit online, the shit that everyone was going to be talking about. For many this is where the train stops. Good stuff from Kottke, and I am done. I wanted more. I wanted to know where he got his stuff from. I wanted to be on the other side of his filter.
This is when you start to wade through the shit. The awesome curators, that get to you exactly what you wanted know, could also be called shit shovelers. I say shit, because you have to get through gobs of shit to get to the good stuff. I look fondly upon the shit, because every so often you find really good shit. If you want to be a curator you have to become a good shit shoveler. Okay enough shit, we can just call it crap. There are two kinds of crap behind the filter.
Crap makers, and crap content. Crap makers are people who get into content curation to create content farms. Many people out there create niche sites just to get ad revenue. Besides the crappy crap makers, there is just regular crap which is just all the other bit’s of content that you need to get through to find the good stuff. When I first tucked into Curation Nation, I was waiting for the take down. The moment where dude explained all about the crap, but he never did.
Some interviewees sure hated curators, he let there speaking work for him, but it was mostly all smiles about the crap makers. They are just affiliate advertisers in his parlance. This is the same problem I found with many “curation” blogs. They are mostly about marketing, and how to use curation to make money. Cool, awesome, whatever make your money, but that can’t be all that curators talk about. I am struck by the fact that so many of my goals as a curator, are expressed in blogs, and Curation Nation, but whats missing is soul I guess.
I share content on twitter because it made me smile, think for a moment, or even surprised me. I really want to find more people talking about curation because they love something, and less about people trying to figure out how to make more pennies on links.
So, going back to the content question. What does this book, and soul, a curation have to do with making content. Simple, it’s the open question now I think. Some people think curating is stealing, some think it’s unproductive. More still think it’s cool, but were missing a huge point. Journalists are running around waving there hands saying the industry is crashing down around us, and sure they are loosing there jobs, but we aren’t missing the bulk of what the news industry does.
When you look at what makes money in the news world much of it isn’t going away. We are going to have wire services, cable news, the evening news. We are still going to have puppies, and watermelon on the front page of news papers. What we are in trouble of loosing is investigative journalism, or really any attempt that takes months of shoveling shit, the worst kind, to make sure that world is running in an orderly fashion. Clay Shirkey explains this argument better then anyone.
Here we are yelling about the act of sharing information, when the biggest problem we face in the short term is loosing are ability to let the fourth estate do it’s job. Oh, and the book isn’t all that bad. If you need to talk to someone about curation, or get someone on board have them read it. And making money isn’t bad, I don’t want people to stop curating to make money i just want to hear more people talk about curation for the fun of it.