If one were to hand out awards to ascendant words of the 21st century, the term ‘curate’ would have to make the short list. As Alex Williams at the Times pointed out a while back, curation is a dominant mode of expression in an era defined by discerning consumption. We have Silicon Valley to thank for injecting it into our daily lives. Fashion designers and club promoters may have first yanked the term out of the museum, but the social web has made us each the curator of our own online avatars.
What does this mean for journalism and media? On the one hand, there’s an explosion of innovation around the notion of curation and how it should shape information - or content, in the parlance of our times - delivery. If you don’t believe me, head on over to someplace like techcrunch and do a search for the term. Yet curation presents a dilemma for journalism. Pekka Pekkala points out that the web was built on the idea of having just one copy of everything, accessible to everyone. As far as founding principles go, that’s the exact opposite of traditional newspaper publishing. Most major news outlets continue to operate under the premise that they should contain all of the world’s news within their own walls. Only recently have you seen major publications like the Times quote outside news organizations within their own stories, let alone nurture in-house curation shops like Dealbook or Reuters’ Counterparties. I remember as an AP reporter racing to match our competitors on each story and wondering if that race was actually beneficial to the public. As Jeff Jarvis says, do what you do best and link to the rest. Of course, you need a degree of redundancy in the system to ensure accuracy and validity, but did we really benefit from 80 nearly identical articles on the Solyndra or Jerry Sandusky scandals? Where is the value added there? And as we saw in both of those cases, the worst outlets can inject spin, opinion, or sensationalism in a ploy for pageviews.
Lastly, that printing press mentality also ignores the ongoing revolution in media creation. As we saw with the Arab Spring and the Occupy protests, anyone with a smartphone is now a (free, unpaid) frontline video correspondent. Readers are elevated to commentators in online forums, and professionals in fields as diverse as medicine and education blog their expert opinions and analysis for free. The democratization of media is undoubtedly a good thing. It’s brought more information and a greater diversity of perspectives to the table. Yet paradoxically, all of these factors have coalesced to make it harder to consistently locate the best news and analysis on a specific topic when you need it. Great content gets drowned out in all the noise.
We here at mycirQle aim to create an ecosystem within the larger web where people passionate about these critical issues can discover, share and interact with the news that matters to them. We emphasize original stories and unique perspectives. We highlight great insights, whether from a legacy publisher or a one-woman blog. And our topical pages will track the long arc of the story in each sector.
We’re in our infancy as a website. For the moment, our team hand picks each story you see on the website. As we scale, we’ll use technology to bring in more content and create a space for you, our knowledgeable readers, to submit great stories and curate your own feed. An era of media saturation and spin calls for more proactive and critical news consumption. We’re here to help you make sense of the flow.