March 28, 2011
News & Opinion: Curation Nation
Author Steven Rosenbaum's new book, Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers Are Creators, addresses the growing dilemma we all face - how to deal with the onslaught of information in our lives. Here's a Q&A with the author that reveals more about the book: It seems like almost overnight, the web has become a torrent of data. What changed? You're right - and it's overwhelming most of us. Connected devices make content creation a easy and cheap, broadband makes it faster, and software invites everyone to join in the data creation deluge. The book promises that we're on the verge of a change that will make the web useful and manageable again. How so? Good news. The battle is between humans and robots - and the humans are winning. Curation puts the power of organization in the hands of humans who can find, filter, and organize information in a way that is contextual and coherent. Why is curation a trend that is going to impact CEOs? Curation is going to be the biggest change for managers and brands in the past 50 years. In the book, we explore how Media and Public Relations budgets used to be able to buy mindshare. But now consumers are creators - so they're going to blog, tweet, and video blog about your product - and they don't need to ask permission. As On The Media's Bob Garfield explains - when he got angry about his cable service - he took his rant to the web. Now, forward thinking companies are inviting customers to participate, to share ideas and feedback, even to dig in and help with new product design. So, Curation is the way to humanize your brand, connect with customers - and turn your friends and fans into a powerful team of empowered curators. Isn't curation just editing? In fact, it's entirely new. What's making the web grow so quickly is that there's no barrier to entry. That means that the volume of data on the web is growing almost overnight. Example; Google's CEO Eric Schmidt was speaking at a conference last summer when he said: "from the beginning of time until 2003, we created 5 exabytes of data - now we're creating that every two days." Less than 90 days later, he was out of a job. Editing was job for a professional to take a pro content, and clean it up and make it better. Curators are finding content from across the web, from blogs tweets, flickr, and more -and creating whole new editorial mash ups that are hugely valuable to visitors. What about ethics, and legality? Can my team really create trusted collections of content from multiple sources? I cover that in the book - the naysayers - it's certainly worth exploration. Mark Cuban calls all curators 'Vampires' and says that content creators shouldn't let curators suck their blood. But then Seth Godin fires back and says - Nonsense. It's a fiery debate, but you know what side I come down on. Does curation mean everything becomes free? Curation will create value for both creators and curators. In fact, most folks who make content will end up curating it as well. It's much easier to use your brain to find and sort and present material that to write a whole page of new content every day. So curation and creation are going to go hand in hand. Why is curation going to make our lives, our businesses, and the world better? When you walk into a restaurant, they don't expect you to eat everything on the menu. When you walk in to a library, you can't reasonably read every book. Right now, we're all struggling to try and know everything that relates to us on the real time web. If we don't find human filters, and start being selective about what we try and manage - our heads are going to explode. Curation is the humanization of the web. It's finding a way to bring the data, the stoires, and the information flow back to human scale. We'll have tools to help of course, but in the end creating meaning and context is a uniquely human skill. We're not going to slow down the creation of data - it's going to speed up. But we can find trusted human curators to find, filter, and contextualize what matters. That's the magic of curation.