Ian Katz, the deputy editor of British newspaper of record the Guardian, says his boss hates the word “curation.” Whenever someone uses the art-y term in the context of editorial content, Katz explained, they seem to feel the need to surround it with finger quotes.
But whether you want to call it aggregating, curating, or simply old-fashioned editing, how we sift through the ever-growing digital trove of professionally produced and user-generated content seemed to be on everyone’s mind at this year’s SXSW.
Sharing the floor with the Guardian’s media reporter, Jemima Kiss, Katz discussed how the Guardian is seeking to strike the right balance between original reporting and curated content on its digital and print properties. Tellingly, the Guardians’ last few hires haven’t been journalists, but “community managers” tasked with scouring the Web for sources and stories.
After the session, I asked Katz to expand on the role curation plays in the new journalistic age:
For Matt Williams, CEO of mega-popular social news aggregator Digg, content is increasingly curated through communities. Williams said people “expect serendipity, timeliness and personal relevance when reading the news,” and look to their friends, influencers and social networks to filter content for them.
Williams, who took over from Digg founder Kevin Rose last year, said Digg is moving “in a direction that’s much more serendipitous and personalized.” To me, these seemed like opposite editorial approaches.
Personalization makes me think of the highly-customizable news experience offered by digital apps like Flipboard, while serendipity brings to mind the eclectically curated experience of leafing through a newspaper or print magazine.
I sat down with Williams after the session and asked him to explain:
It seems fitting to end our little exploration of curation with the guy who wrote the book, Steve Rosenbaum. An Emmy award-winning television producer, Rosenbaum is the CEO of Magnify.net – an online video aggregation tool – and the author of Curation Nation.
In his book, Rosenbaum argues that businesses and publishers need to sift through the Web’s clutter to curate meaningful experiences for their audience. I caught up with him in the SXSW media lounge and asked him what role brands will play in the age of curation: