Another dot in the blogosphere?

Lazy curation is not curation

Posted on: August 3, 2015

Almost every day I get notified on Twitter that something I created or shared is part of someone’s “curated” e-paper. I should feel flattered, but I am not always pleased.

The part of me that celebrates is the fact that everyone today can be a leader, publisher, or broadcaster. Your artefact can be right beside or even more highly featured than a prize-winning journalist or a Sir Ken Robinson.

My beef is not with the content creators because they are the leaders, publishers, or broadcasters. I like them even more when they share generously and openly because the rest of us benefit from their ideas, perspectives, or wisdom.

lazy by delgrosso, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  delgrosso 

I take issue with those that pretend to curate the content with tools like, flipboard, or some equivalent. I have shared some other thoughts on auto-curation before.

Auto-curation tools are efficient. They allow a user to pull and pool content from just about anywhere into themed e-papers. But it is one thing to do this for your benefit (like how some of us still use RSS to get our daily nuggets). It is another to share these as one’s own effort and expertise.

I have described these efforts as fire-and-forget because there is little effort beyond initial set up. These tools, and by association the people that use them, trawl social media riches but remove the social, the personal, and the contextual.

For example, I know of e-curated sites that feature only one source of articles while touting how many people tweet-share articles from that source. Others put their articles in the top-ranking section at the beginning and everyone else’s later. These are more about self-promotion than sharing.

There are others that claim expertise or specialization in a topic. To the uninformed eye, the daily churning out of e-papers with articles based on the hard work of others seems impressive. However, quite a few of the “curators” do not produce any of their own work to share. They might also have little or no reputation in the topics they dabble in.

If you try having conversations with these entities, you soon learn that they sometimes a) do not reply, b) are bots, or c) cannot carry a light load of logic or critical thought.

What saddens me is that curation might be redefined by efficiency and convenience instead of care and context. There are digital tools like Diigo and that lend themselves to more considered and reflective curation. However, I worry about the slick and shiny tools used by educators and non-educators alike who inevitably push the wrong curation agenda. I worry that it promotes lazy thinking.

I am all for showing people how easy it is to use today’s technology. But I am against modelling that good use is effortless. Like most things, the best things in life often take care and hard work. Digital curation is no exception.

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