“A curator is an information chemist. He or she mix atoms together in a way to build an info-molecule. Then adds value to that molecule.” – Scoble
One of some buzzwords from SXSWEDU 2012 is “educators as curators”. With lots of Web2.0 curation tools available, what does it mean to be a curator? What’s the difference between an aggregator and a curator ? Corinne Weisgerber, the communication professor and researcher with an interest in new media, pedagogy, and computer-mediated communication, gave an presentation on this. (her blog: socialmediaprclass.blogspot.com)
In this age of information abundance, curation is to leaverage this abundance effectively, we think there are many purposes of curation, here are some situations:
- collecting relevant resources or tools for later use, from infinite abundance (sometimes you can’t find a link anymore after leaving it)
- organizing texts and resources for learning, educational courses offering is the typical case, while well-crafted curation led by teachers could be valuable, but without having students becoming part of the curating process, the most important part is missed
- investigation around an event or a topic/question, with or without personal narratives, most of time we digest and abstract from the information to gain meaningful answers
- discovery and exploration, we are like Columbus’ ships in the sea without boundaries (information sea), Columbus could give his perspectives on what he discovered about the new lands, but it’s proved completely wrong later, so does it matter if we give our own viewpoints or just bring something worthwhile to others’ attention? In the age of information overload, discovery itself is valuable, in my opinion.
- putting things together to support our own opinions/pusposes, you might argue that what happens is vice versa, but many science researches have pointed out human’s brains actually come out opinions first then collect supporting evidences in most cases. The basic question is: do we really understand how our brain work? or we just think we know? So,be careful about the bias in the context of every curation, especially the better curation we think because the curator add a lot of “values” in it. (of course it’s appreciated when the intention is to augment good causes)
- to re-create and re-mix, there is rarely totally original work, the difference is between stealing like an artist and ripping off (or, plagiarizing). More often than not creativity comes from connecting dots, there is nothing wrong to build your creation from human’s collective intelligence if it’s properly credited.
The value of sharing comes from that everyone doesn’t need to repeat doing the same things, like the open source software started from programmers sharing what they built and updated for their own purposes, but there are lots of opportunities the works are useful for others. So once shared, the works can be grown further based on what already achieved, or it just can be utilized directly to benefit other human beings. Because the origin work is to suit the creator’s needs, and the other reason is wanting the recognition from peers, so the creator is actually doing the best and keeping updating.
If human beings need to re-invent the wheels for individual needs, then our history would be totally different. The progress of civilization is based on accumulated sharing. Now the only difference is that we have the internet and abundant tools to facilitate this kind of process much more efficiently, sometimes it’s even like in light speed. But remember this quote:
“Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.” — Ecclesiastes 3:15
To credit different curators with different purposes, The Curator’s Code is a movement to honor and standardize attribution of discovery across the web by making attribution consistent and codified, a system for honoring the creative and intellectual labor of information discovery. Here is information from the website:
“To be realistic one must always admit the influence of those who have gone before.” — Charles Eames
“One of the most magical things about the Internet is that it’s a whimsical rabbit hole of discovery – we start somewhere familiar and click our way to a wonderland of curiosity and fascination we never knew existed. What makes this contagion of semi-serendipity possible is an intricate ecosystem of “link love” – a via-chain of attribution that allows us to discover new sources through those we already know and trust. ”
I learned about it from BrainPickings’ introduction, to see how it works in action, this short video is a demo. The system is based on two basic types of attribution, each shorthanded by a special unicode character, much like ™ for “trademark” and for © “copyright.”
Besides of giving credits to discovery, this means can bring more benefits for us. There are downsides of sharing culture, one of them is sometimes we help spread biased, pusposed or wrong messages without enough examination. Part of it is the limited time we have. (most people aren’t aware of how marketing or PR work) With these codes, it’s much easier to clarify information sources for anyone who cares to look for truths. Human’s collective intelligence will be much more likely utilized in the right directions.