The essay below describes a “curation ecosystem” — that is, web content which is cataloged, cross-referenced, rated, filtered, and otherwise managed by human beings.

[T]he entire curation ecosystem is growing and along with it there has been an will continue to be a proliferation of interesting tools that people can use to help filter, organize, archive discover and share content on virtually any topic.

How useful any one tool might be depends heavily upon the intended use. Some are designed to help curate (or in my own opinion) more artfully filter real time streams -– most especially twitter however I think this form of curation is actually closer to aggregation unless those lists of tweets and other content and subsequently perused by a person and further refined. In fact I would go so far as to argue that a purely algorithmic effort at filtering content should really be described as aggregation and not truly curation.

The way I see it you wouldn’t have an algorithm choose the most important 10 pieces of French Impressionist art out of a 10,000 item collection. Could an algorithm really determine not only why they were the most important pieces but also make decisions about how to display them in a way that places them in context with one another as well as within the larger context of the entire period?

Perhaps the day when that will happen isn’t far away but as someone that has followed our progression towards Ray Kurzweil’s “Singularity” it is pretty clear that we’re not there yet.

On the other hand humans are already very skilled curators. In fact, virtually every one of us curates something. Granted, most of the stuff we curate may not be to your liking -– you may not be as fond of ceramic dogs as my mom is, for example, but that doesn’t mean her collection is any less well curated for that fact -– but when you do seek content on a particular topic it’s highly likely that if you look for material curated by an expert in that area it will deliver far greater value for the time spent to locate it than you are likely to realize using search engines to find material on the same topic.

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