EVERYTHING WILL BE CURATED:
FIVE QUESTIONS FOR THE KING OF CURATION, STEVE ROSENBAUM.
The internet used to be fun. Now, it seems hard. There’s a river of stuff coming at us EVERY DAY. Fact: It would take 72 years for one person to watch all the video uploaded to YouTube in One DAY.
Curation is the next wave of the internet. The curation wave is where Blogging was 10 years ago.
STEVE ROSENBAUM is the author of “CURATION NATION: How To Win in a World Where Consumers are Creators,” and founder of Magnify.net, a leading site for video curation. He has ALSO just been named as a Science Journalism Laureate at Purdue University.
I wanted to talk to him about the state of the art of curation, and what curation means for the “traditional” curator-creators — networks, cable systems and big media companies.
1. OKAY, SO I WANT TO BE A CURATOR, I WANT TO BE AHEAD OF THE CURVE, BE PART OF THE NEXT GREAT WAVE. WHAT ARE THE STATE OF THE ART TOOLS?
The web has gone in ten years from being a brand new thing to being a really essential discovery mechanism to being, for most people, a chore.
It takes real work now. What that means to me is that the early adopters are gonna plateau, people are going to say “I don’t want to do all of this discovery. I want to subscribe to someone who will point me to good content.”
The most important thing for all of us to acknowledge is that we’re nowhere near done with the techniques and tools of this noisy mess. It’s a long list. And they all matter.
There’s a whole list of twitter tools.. I use Hootsuite, Tweetdeck. I like Storify. I like the Curata guys. I also have a thing that tells me when people don’t follow me or have dropped me on Twitter, and what the last thing I tweeted was before they dropped off.
And then obviously I have a whole bunchof google news alerts.
To decide you want to be a curator of a noisy space, and I think today all of them increasingly are noisy, don’t expect it to not take effort. Jason Hirschhorn probably won’t tell you how many various spiders he has floating in the universe. Part of the reason he has such a good list is that he touches a significantly higher percentage of the stories he publishes, and he has VERY quick instincts about “people need to know that.”
Here’s another interesting thing about curating. Look at Pinterest. It’s a visual collection of links and photographs. It says “Any time I see sometHing interesting, I’m going to pin it to my bulletin board.” It tends to be fashion, clothing and shoes. One of the things that becomes puzzling about this world… You write a blog post. It takes you a couple of hours. You write it, you go back to it, you make sure it’s what you want to say, the grammar and spelling are right… You’re expressing your ideas and your intellectual ability.
Photographs and links don’t require that. Seeing something with your camera and putting it on the web, seeing a link and retweeting presents a much lower barrier to you stating who you are.
With video, there are a lot of curation tools. YouTube has some tools, Magnify plays some role in that. VodPod just got acquired.
On the actual articles side of things, it’s a little puzzling. RSS seems to be floating out to sea. It’s not clear what Digg does anymore. Delicious is going to be reinvented. So, I think most people tell you they hack together some collection of inbound rss feeds, Google News.
One thing worth putting on the horizon: there aren’t currently good tools for tuning people out, but they’re coming. And it will tune it out for of ALL your networks. Unsubscribe.com doesn’t quite do it, but there’s an inevitable coming of tools that will help you not only put the people you care about “front and center,” but they will help you consistently get smart about keeping it out of your world view. Hopefully, that will replace the robots Eli Pariser worries about… Not an algorithm, something YOU can set and have power over.
2. YOU MENTIONED JASON HIRSCHHORN AND HIS MEDIA REDEFINED TWITTER FEED AND EMAIL. WHO ELSE WOULD YOU SAY ARE BEST OF BREED IN THE CURATION WORLD?
There’s a bunch. You should look at Jim Bankoff at SB Nation. He understands the ideas of collection, community and curation built together. Thinking of the next generation of winners, he’s on that list.
I feel that Huffington Post lost their way a little bit after the AOL merger, and they know it.
In terms of people… Certainly Fred Wilson. It may have started as a hobby and then as a marketing strategy. But now I think he takes his voice quite seriously, and works at it tirelessly, in a way that is not probably particularly economic for him. He might be able to spend that time more profitably as a pure play investor, but really has developed a real community for print that matters.
3. TO PARAPHRASE THE OLD SAYING: “FROM THIS I CAN MAKE A LIVING?”
YES, but not in the way you think. It won’t be advertising. The numbers just don’t add up. Ad buyers still buy scale, and in a noisy world they buy more scale, not less, and you’re in the remnant business.
You could stand back and piece together a business that is a combination of writing, speaking, consulting, a subscription newsletter… some series of things that collectively cume up to be a living. But none of them look to be a 6-figure income.
There might be a job that will have to be created in big companies and brands, once you accept the fact that all companies / brands are going to be publishers. Then the next step is that no one of the “legacy departments” can own this voice. It has to be someone whose entire responsibility is to the audience. We’re doing some work now for GE, and they’re thnking about how they curate content around Ecoimagination. That’s fascinating.
4. SPEAK A LITTLE MORE ABOUT BRANDS AS CURATORS.
So here’s a new thought that’s not in the book: There’s a lot of talk now about earned / paid / owned media. I think “owned” is a mistake. We can imagine earned and paid going down over time… Owned is the “We’re going to make more stuff for our selves and tell our story” approach. Say if you’re Diet Coke. You’re going to make more videos about Diet Coke.
I’m in the process of lobbying the world that the word owned should be replaced by enabled. Say to Diet Coke, if you want more videos to be made about what Diet Coke means to consumers, extreme sports, mountain climbing etc. — find videos that exist, put them up on your site and say “We like this kid!” And say to you consumers “Make some for us! And here’s some we like!” Enabled feels much more like the future of the web than owned.
It’s what I think brands are struggling with. There’s this word that gets used relentlessly, but it matters to this conversation: Authenticity. Your audience’s conversations about your product are incredibly authentic.
Example; I met a guy a few weeks ago who runs one of the big cruise lines. And he said “We have this problem — everyone who goes on one of our cruises makes videos. And 99% of them have a lovely experience and make a video and show their family. And 1% have a BAD experience and put it up on Youtube. And when you type our brand in, all our bad experiences come up. What should we do?”
And I said, “Do you have a link on your site that says ‘Upload your video to us?’ He said no, I said fix that tomorrow. Put up a link that says: “Had a great experience? We want to hear about it! Had a problem — we want to hear about that too!” And here’s the important thing — THERE’S NOTHING that says you’re going to publish it! Send them a coupon, a cap, a recognition that you HEARD them. An apology! But you don’t have to put it up. Curate the videos you want to represent your brand. You’re not YouTube, you don’t have to show it.
5. FINALLY, SOMETHING I’VE BEEN ASKING EVERYONE — CAN YOU SHOW ME SOMETHING ON YOUR DESK OR IN YOUR OFFICE THAT’S PERSONALLY REVEALING?