Curation beyond social media
In this blog post I explore the news curation concept and the new supporting web services as introduced by Robert Scoble, trying to understand whether some concepts can be integrated in general bookmarking services like the one we just put online (Licorize), in a context wider than news presentation and discussion.
What is curation?
First of all, what is curation? On Wiktionary I find this definition:
The act of curating, of organizing and maintaining a collection of artworks or artifacts.
A typical example is a museum curator, an expert in the field. In the context of web news and information collection, curation is organizing collections of information extracted from the web. Robert Scoble, the well know journalist, gives several examples here:
Look at this post here, I can link to Tweets, and point out good ones, right? That’s curation. Or I can order my links in a particular order. That’s curation. Or I can add my thoughts to those links, just like Techcrunch or VentureBeat do. That’s curation. Or I can do a video like Leo Laporte does and talk about those links. That’s curation. Or I can forward those links to you via email. That’s curation. The editor who sits in a big building at New York Times or your local newspaper that chooses what content you’ll see in your newspaper is a curator. So is the page designer who decides what story is at the top of the page.
Scoble gives even an audio definition here. This sense of curation is actually quite specific: its news on the web curation – understandably, given Scoble’s occupation. Scoble calls it real-time curation, and also gives Seven Needs of Real-Time Curators:
1. Real-time curators need to bundle.
2. Real-time curators need to reorder things.
3. Real-time curators need to distribute bundles.
4. Real-time curators need to editorialize.
5. Real-time curators need to update their bundles.
6. Real-time curators need to add participation widgets.
7. Real-time curators need to track their audience.
This is in the same article linked above, with detailed explanations for each of the seven points.
When I read this list, having just released a new bookmarking service, I got really interested as this seems a description of what all kind of people do on the web, not just journalist dealing with events in real-time. But first let’s keep following Scoble.
News curation applications
As Scoble points out, there are now some cool web applications that can help do curation in real time: as a prominent and example, let’s consider Curated.by http://www.curated.by . This application works on twitter streams, allowing you to create bundles, add comments, embed widgets – in short – do curation on tweets. An interesting video interview of the fellows at Curated.by is here.
What cannot be generalized
What of the above is relevant for the web worker bookmark and idea collector – not a journalist? Or better, as in a sense anybody can temporarily be creating news on the web – like of your kids party. But activity on the web is not all about news. And not all flows like that. One of the main features that must be supported by the news curation services is that news change in real time – and some of them actually quickly disappear.
I believe it would actually would be quite wrong to assume that this flow of information is the typical usage of a bookmarking service. A service that helps me collecting ideas for my next game development, my wine bottle design, my hotel promotion is not about real time – while its promotion may be. When researching and working on ideas, an online service support should supply a place where information can quickly and simply stored (bookmarked, moved, imported) and in time transformed. The focus is storing and working on it. The target is not real time, is helping to create and share ideas and projects. What you need is a
where information waits to be transformed and shared.
What a bookmarking service can learn from news curation
Some features of these real-time curation services are really nice, and could be added to any cool bookmarking service, and hence also to Licorize, our new bookmarking-and-ideas-and-todos-etc online service. The seven questions above make sense re-interpreted for anybody’s bookmarking activity:
1. Bookmarkers need to bundle.
Licorize’s answer. One could say that Licorize “projects” give you just that: more than a flat tagging, you can collect bookmarks, ideas, goals, invite people on the list, share, work, communicate. And with the synch with Twitter, LinkedIn, Evernote all kinds of information sources get added and distributed.
2. Bookmarkers need to reorder things.
Licorize’s answer. Of course “strips” – all your notes – can be ordered by drag-and-drop, prioritized, tagged, made “sticky”…
3. Bookmarkers need to distribute bundles.
Licorize’s answer. Some “bundles” (Licorize projects) need to be shared, made public. These are what the Flipboard-like Licorize booklets are for. Just share a url; and if you prefer the flat Delicious-like style – you can share that too.
4. Bookmarkers need to editorialize.
Licorize’s answer. Bookmarking is just one of the entry points of your projects and ideas. Licorize gives you a wide spectrum of tools to edit, transform, add, comment the contents.
5. Bookmarkers need to update their bundles.
Licorize’s answer. Well, this is hardly a problem in Licorize: all content is yours and editable.
6. Bookmarkers need to add participation widgets.
Licorize’s answer. Booklets entries can be commented and retweeted. Could be great to add more interaction, like polling…
7. Bookmarkers need to track their audience.
Licorize’s answer. This is a good idea for an update: it would be nice for the owner of a public Licorize project to see how many times the public booklet has been seen. And also to have a TweetMeme button on the booklet home.
Exploring the theme of curation can bring ideas valid for all people working on the web.