The curator is as important as the information.
At least, that's the conclusion I can draw from my reading and bookmarking habits. It's a pattern: whatever is shared by one of my trusted learning buddies has far more chances of getting my attention, of being saved for later or getting links in my blog.
Nothing new under the sun in that first paragraph. What I wonder is:
a. How did that happen?
b. How valuable is that?
a. It happens one link at a time intertwined with bits that tell me who the reader is and how close we are in views. Or not. The healthy tension of disagreeing is a fertile learning ground. I like and welcome a complete opposite view that makes it necessary to understand my own in depth.
b. Value of curation. Lots of course. I'd say it has an "economy value" and a "rainbow value". When the same link starts pouring your Twitter stream as if it were a call for a fire brigade, it is good to see the different shades of colours in the views people you trust have about the same issue. It is instant. You get the main synthesis in 140 or even the questions that will need careful exploration in blogs. But the synthesis on its own might create a lasting impression in your view of the topic even before you decide to click on a well thought out analysis. This is how bias can shut your own voice up. Yet, I can confidently say I do not become my network, although I share many views. I just build my identity in their presence.
What concerns me now is the "economy" value. By economy I mean the time and effort saved by not finding the information yourself. The value you can ascribe simply because of the source of information. A lot has been said about the time it takes to create a (personal?) network. But when you don't have the habit of reaching out and following new people not followed by anyone else, you risk getting a choir full of echo. You easily become interested in what concerns the (massive?) network.
A detail I do not want to forget. Curation is mediated by tools. The tools we use come and go depending on the priorities of business people that have little to do with the idea that learning is a serious job. Anyway, we cannot even agree what learning is, so it is not fair to expect Delicious or Facebook or Twitter to facilitate it for us or help us to sustain it.
When we evaluate a new link or tool, when we need to assess it again after using it for years, how do you know to what extent the curation is done by the network, the tool or you?
In the meantime, who do you believe is doing it?
Labels: curation, network, social networking, tools