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Curation and The Erosion of Hierarchy

user by Yair Yona
calendarSunday, 30 December

One of the most interesting aspects of Web 2.0, I think, is the transformations from consumer -> user and from producer -> platform. Web 2.0 has generated a transition from the binary divisions and hierarchies of the Industrial economy of production and consumption to an economy in which there is no clear separation between content providers and recipients, between professional and amateur curators.
The market/content economies of producers/consumers have shifted to a linked economy. An economy in which we are all potential content creators/curators – professionals/amateurs, via aggregation/creation, as bloggers, editors, taggers,”likers”, “retweeters” or talk-backers. In today’s over abundant market, overflowing with

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content, the secret is not only to invent or create something new but to channel into the linking/linkup freeway of content curation.

Channeling into the collective, collaborative, participatory linked economy through which content is curated by a community and not only by

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the content creator. Linking and sharing are not only based on a desire to speak – that is only a part of the process. They are also based on the participators belief that participation can be valuable, that it has impact. A belief which has concrete ramifications both in the level of systems (the global collapse of old school media systems for example – through free news content, the breakdown of professional journalism in blogging etc.) and also on the level of individuals or communities (with the erosion of belief in professional authority – we are all creators or curators of information). The degree of our participation depends on us as do the length of the tail and impact of the information we curate.

Steve Rosenbaum in his “Curation Nation” says that we can play different roles in today’s world. We can be:

1. Citizens – Aware of the tools afforded by the web 2.0, use them at times but not to a degree where our participation can be measured as unique by other participating members of the online community.

2. Shopkeepers – Experts on specific topics, categories and genres. Each shopkeeper will try and convince you that their “shop” is THE place for you to be.

3. Civic leaders – The there are those whose influence is larger than their shop or their field of expertise and they become leaders.

Where before the age of the internet professionals and amateurs did not often “mingle” during the creative process, today’s content is created in an open sourced environment. Professionals collaborate with amateurs or Pro/Ams (professional amateurs), sharing thoughts, resources and processes. Sharing and collaborating are key elements for the creation and curation of content working both from and within communities of content creators and users. Platforms to generate this kind of participation and creativity abound, from the Pearltree curation tool for example:
to TED’s city2.0 platform which calls upon us to suggest ideas for the future of the city and society and curate these ideas.

And of course there are countless others…

Chris Andersen, while writing his profoundly influential “The Long Tail” opened up certain issues in the book in blog format as a work in progress. Thus opening up these issues for debate and collaborative thought. Not that the the book was written collaboratively, more that it allowed different and a wider range of opinions to be sounded while Andersen could also sound out his ideas to a wider public during the process of “honing” his ideas. The idea of working on a theoretical book using sources which are both academic and amateur, both closed and open, is a trend that exemplifies today’s digital society. A trend that can be linked to the Huffington Post model of combining professionals with amateurs, content creation with aggregation, old school media traits with web 2.0 techniques. A trend in which we use technology as a platform to speak with one another, learn from each other and share knowledge. That is curation in the age of the web 2.0 – the opening up of knowledge, transforming curiosity to an act. An act of sharing.

In an economy in which participation is a potential act of curation, in which any addition to the chatter can be of potential value, and in which this value can have concrete ramifications who do you want to be? Citizen, shopkeeper or civic leader?

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