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Content curation: Definition before innovation?

Although I’m right in the thick of the content curation definition debate, I’m starting to think it’s fundamentally a distraction from real innovation. It’s a bit like beginning a project by holding a meeting in which all you do is plan future meetings that will—ostensibly— lead to project completion. Maybe we should focus more on doing, and less on defining. What content curation “means” will sort itself out once we see more and more good work that can’t really be called anything else. Book on Table

And isn’t this how we should want it? This is the Internet, after all, and we’re not particularly into fixed definitions, unbreakable rules or governing bodies.  Consensus, orthodoxy and formulas don’t interest me, nor do they interest those in this world on the bleeding edge of innovation. I don’t think it’s really a dichotomy, either; talking about curation and actually doing it well aren’t mutually exclusive. But my sense is that the people that will truly lead in whatever content curation becomes are doing a lot more walking than talking, even if they’ll engage every so often in a little public thinking out loud on the subject.

These are the guys that are letting the conversation swirl around them while they tinker away on something about which we’ll soon say, “now that’s curation,” in the same way we say, “now that’s a car” when we take a spin in our friend’s new Audi. Of course, there will always be those things we can point to and say, “sure, that’s curation, too,” which we might follow up with, “but it’s no X”. Because a real, holistic definition isn’t just something we apply to the best-in-breed—there will always be unremarkable and uninspired curation out there, and it’s important that we apply the term to even the stuff that doesn’t wow us. Bad art is still art, bad music is still music.

The doubters and critics of the promise of curation seem to apply the term almost exclusively to “bad” examples, whether they exist yet or not. For instance, Paul Bradshaw quotes a museum curator that dismisses content curation as nothing more than “selecting”, a sentiment with which many (including myself) would disagree. And so the term curation also risks becoming unfairly pejorative.

That’s it for now. What say you?

© 2016 Ian Greenleigh