Curation As Cure to Information Overload

A core point in an my essay, Information Glut and the Loss of Meaning was that the everyday person is losing the ability to navigate and meaningfully decipher their “symbolic environment.” While on a whole this seems to be true, there seems to be a countervailing force balancing this out and creating a new dynamic. This force is the curation of aggregated content.

It is not a new phenomenon as web-technologies such as rich-site-summary, otherwise known as RSS have been around for at least fifteen years. While RSS made it easier to aggregate information for easier digestion, the service lacked any quality control outside the user. Fast forward to the advent of Twitter and the Facebook News Feed and we essentially have an improved version of the same thing.

Companies recognize the need to help us to both cut through the noise and to find what matters to us. Whether this is the oft-derided LOLcats, sports scores or something more lofty we are basically being curated to – either by companies or by our friends and acquaintances. Sure, there are sites like Buzzfeed or Distractify that offer dubious articles that don’t seem to have anything in common besides their randomness and ability to catch people’s attention. However I think in time we will be getting more specialized or niche services on important topics.

We are already receiving this type of service by many users who brand themselves, which I guess to be fair is almost a necessity in our hyper-specialized age. These users, or providers if you wish, pick something they like or are good at and will share, re-tweet, re-blog, and so on, anything related to the topic of their choosing and that they deem worthy.

This is not a bad idea. People who do this can build a reputation by weeding out the chaff from the wheat. If done right it could signal what is significant or not, and create an archive constituted by breadcrumbs of knowledge that perhaps will lead to a bigger, more coherent picture. If so, I will congratulate and salute these masters of social-media.

While they are not the original creators of such content, they are providing a much needed service; curation is a form of creation when you think about it. Think about all the “Top 10” articles you have ever seen and you can sense or appreciate the value in such endeavors, at least for the information-consumer.