Meditations in a Transformation

RU a Curator?

Do you Google? Ever swipe left or right? Have a Twitter or Facebook account? This means you probably like things on social media. And you probably also retweet or repost the work of others. You might even have a Pinterest board. These are all acts of curation — finding, sorting, evaluating, endorsing, organizing and sharing information and ideas. Thanks to the web, your smartphone and your wireless plan, you are doing what librarians have been doing for millennia.

It’s true. I just called you a librarian. Don’t worry, you don’t have to change your wardrobe or don Clarks. But if you want to rock your tats and piercings and be a sexy librarian, I won’t stand in your way.

So why am I calling you out as a curator, let alone a l-i-b-r-a-r-i-a-n???

Curation may be one of the most essential skills in our modern times. And I think we’re only now beginning to realize it. As an educator, I believe we need to teach kids how to effectively curate information and ideas. It is an essential #futureready skill. We also need to provide educators the chops and tools to match great resources to each student. And as an adult, I believe we all need to think more critically about the ways in which we engage with information. Without realizing it, we have let information and ideas get the better of us.

In the old days, things were simpler. Librarians, authors, publishers and editors did much of the work for us. Information was literally bound and shelved. And facts just seemed to move more slowly. Authority, authenticity, and accuracy were managed by others. Journalists followed a code that was built on fact-checking and presenting all sides of a story. Authors and editors leveraged their education and their institutions to use research and rigor to publish work with a modicum of veracity. (Yes, I used that phrase because it sounds very serious and old-fashioned.) Librarians used collection development guidelines to select and make available resources to meet the needs of their patrons whether they were in a school or serving the public. Someone else mediated information and ideas for you. Sure, you could decide which books to check out or which articles to read, but those books and articles were first curated by a librarian, an editor, or a publisher.

Now information and ideas are unbound, fast-moving, and unfiltered. Thanks to blogs, YouTube and social media, everyone is not only a curator and librarian, but also an author and publisher. We are no longer dependent on a library collection, an editor’s selection or the news that’s fit to print. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. Recall Pandora. (The myth, not the music service.)

The problem is that curation is complicated. Over the next few posts, I’m going to explore curation with both an educational and social lens. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to an exploration at SXSWEdu and at CUE. And I invite you to crash the #curationmatters hashtag and continue the conversation. We are all curators. What’s your strategy?

Like what you read? Give Mark Ray a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.