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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Culling Curators


Middlemen have it the roughest these days. Record labels, book/magazine publishers, car salesmen, art galleries, realtors. With artists like Slash breaking traditional industry boundaries and with the well known issues of online distribution of information and content, it's tough.

But there's a new breed of middleman. Some of them are calling themselves curators. I'd not use such a, well, stodgy word. I'd use culler, a word not commonly used yet, but accurate. These people are filters.

Remember portals online? Like Ask or Infoseek or, well, AOL? Of course you don't. They've been replaced as the active, social media sites have revolutionized the sharing of information. I don't mean the actual information, the content. Blogs and the like have revolutionized the sharing of that. I mean the sharing of the sharing, the filter, the value-added directory.

So now, on these highly active sharing sites, the deal is to be the best at focussing on what you like to share and then finding the best postings online about the best examples of that, the fastest. These people who have thousands of followers on Twitter and hundreds of friends on Facebook spend their time grabbing links, repeating the ones that fit their focus, perhaps scanning original source sites like newspapers or even content producers and sometimes sharing links from those that haven't yet been shared. It's about building a reputation as the one to follow if you like such-and-such, and it's about connecting with other cullers to get insider tips, faster links, more followers.

I'm not sure what'll happen, but I know there'll be a shakeout, a quick one because everything on these social media sites happens, like, yesterday. It's like a vacuum in 2 senses: it'll suck you in and spit you out, and it's very echoey. Many are basically acting as relays. There are clever uses of the technology though.

I joined in one last month. A lady, @kim on Twitter, started #Artwalk. On Twitter, one way information gets connected together is through hashtags (#). Twitter makes these into links so you can click on them and it acts kind of like an indexing function. Kim's idea was to, once a month, have people share art links they like with the hashtag #Artwalk. Sort of a stroll through art online, turning Twitter into a virtual gallery. Culling at it's finest, if the quality is there.

And that's the trick I think, quality. With so much repeating of links and connections for the sake of connections, the actual content, the painting by Van Gogh on the museum website, can be lost. We need original, um, content. Again, not the actual content, the link content. The cullers who will make it out with maybe a real thing going will be those who find real stuff to share.

Seems obvious, but the noise level is rising online and it's still hard to tune in a signal. So I call out to you cullers, what do you really want? What do you want to share? Be as specific as possible and put that in your bio info. Then you can become the active directory people will remember and go to, like the old Yellow Pages.

I don't envy your mission, but if you choose it, commit.


Slash 10/15/09

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