“Who is the Curator Online?” Case Study

An online exhibition of ideas that translates into a custom poster

Note — Scroll down to see bullet points of my decisions when making the site, or visit the site here.

The word “curator” used to be an easy one to define. It was someone at a museum (or space) that would pick what paintings (or things) go on the wall. This was the case when most of the spaces we navigated through were physical, now, most of the spaces we navigate through are digital ones — leaving the definition of “curator” much more open.

On the internet, we can generally define who the curator is into one of four categories. An algorithm (like on Google News), a user (or collection of them, like on message boards), an editor (like on a editorial site, such as the NYTimes), or a complicated mix of all three (like on Facebook, or GoodReads, or even Netflix.)

This website is supposed to put these different ways of curating head to head — and letting you be the curator of which you think is strongest.

The website on load and as you hover and click around it.

Going around, you’ll find different quotes, ideas, and insights from every level of the digital culture spectrum (one quote is from the museum curator Hans-Ulrich Oberst, another is from marketingland.com). As you click and hover around, the background will change colors to reflect which “category” you are about to explore more.

However, your experience through the website is not meant to be only in the digital space. As you scroll around, go ahead and print the site to create a customized poster showing what ideas you saw online and in what order you saw them. Taking your curatorial experience from Web to Print.

Printing the website to make a customized poster.

*The goal of the website and poster is to provide an audience with a contrast of ideas.

This is the reason why the site is largely “color-coded.” By that, I mean, each category (algorithm, user, editor, or mix of all three) has a color assigned to it. My thinking behind this was that it would make it clear that there is no one dominant solution, no one curator of the internet. Rather, different curators come up at different times of the internet, just like the different colors come up at different times on the site depending on what you are hovering over or clicking on.

* I wanted to add a printed element to the experience to show how digital experiences can continue into the physical space.

So often we find an entertaining site and spend less than a minute in that “experience.” It’s my belief that not enough of these experience are able to leave the browser and enter the physical space. With this website, the audience can experience it online then have a record of how they experienced it, a “journey map” if you will.

I kept thinking about how great physical experiences often provide you with some artifact that you get to keep after that experience. For a example for a visit to an amusement park — you often leave with a map that was your guide around the park, or maybe pictures you took at the photo booth, a souvenir, etc. What if more digital experiences could leave you with those physical artifacts? This site was attempt to explore that.
The posters printed out at different sizes.

*It was important to me that the audience themselves could be curators themselves, too.

If you’re going to the talk the talk you should walk the walk too.

As the audience scrolls and clicks through the site, they can either close out different ideas and quotes or choose to keep them. They can also choose to print out the poster with any different color background they want. And, the audience actually “builds” the grid of the website as they add more quotes. This means that if they only opened one quote, that quote will stretch to 100% of the available width. But the more quotes you add to the space, the more the width of the website gets divided up to accommodate them all.

This project was an assignment in my “Web to Print” course at California College of the Arts. I want to thank my professors, Jon Sueda and Catherine Leigh Schmidt, for the advice and guidance on the project.

Several of my classmates also created some incredible web-to-print projects, and we will be exhibiting them in a physical gallery in San Francisco this coming March. More info to follow.

The site was coded by myself, with help from friends. The font is GT Cinetype.

Visit it here.