Are you really curating?
Posted April 13, 2015on:
On an almost daily basis, I get notified by Twitter that something I wrote or a tweet I shared is part of someone else’s curated e-paper. For example, I get paper.li tweets like “The [name] Daily is out! Stories via @ashley…”.
These tweets become spammy when others listed with me retweet or favourite the tweet and I get notified repeatedly. The notifications are easy enough to ignore, but some of the malpractices of digital curation is not.
An owner of something like a paper.li space defines content by including Twitter handles and hashtags, amongst other parameters. The tool harvests information daily and spits out pretty decent-looking papers based on algorithms.
The original authors or creators of content are assured that they can opt out or stand to gain increased traffic.
Let me address the first issue short and sweet: How about first being asked if we would like to opt in? Even if I share content openly, what happened to “Please may I use…” and “Thank you for sharing…”?
On to the next issue. Does algorithmically-determined curation really benefit the original creator with more traffic or credit? I think not, particularly if the 1) collection is not focused in terms of topic and audience, and 2) attribution goes to someone else.
I share and create mostly educational technology ideas. But I have seen my tweets and content shared under categories like art, sports, and science in the right sorts of education-flavoured papers. My content has also been included in totally unrelated papers.
In an attention economy, a “curated” paper is likely to only attract specific target audiences with specific needs. If my tweets and blog entries are categorized by basic algorithms that do not factor context and nuance, then they will not be read.
I share my own resources by amplifying them on Twitter or might be the first to tweet something. However, auto curation tools may not be smart enough to detect that. I have seen my content attributed to someone else in platforms like paper.li.
Auto curating platforms like paper.li also remove comments in favour of links to content. This can lead to a misrepresentation of who I am or what I stand for. For example, I might tweet a resource with a comment about it being a negative example. However, paper.li will share the headline and URL while removing my comment and thus the context in which it was shared.
I ask those that think they are curating to learn how to curate with Diigo or with scoop.it. For example, here is what I curate on flipped learning.
Digital curation, like museum curation, takes work. You must want to tell a story or provide a custom set of resources for those who request it. For example, when people in my PLN ask for resources, I would create bit.ly bundles for them (unfortunately these are being “sunsetted” soon).
If you wish to call yourself a digital curator, I ask that you also create your own content and share it openly. Imagine if no one created any; what would there be to curate? I also warn that auto curation breeds laziness, especially if you do not manage by manually taking control from time to time or monitoring for accuracy and quality.