9. Weapons of Individual Transformation: Content Curation Tools
10 Disruptive Factors Transforming the World of Education and Learning — Consequences, Opportunities, Tools
“We have access to an exponentially growing amount of information to process and apply [and] there are many excellent tools we can all use to help in constructing and organizing that content.”
Startups have smelled the opportunity of a continuously growing multi-billion dollar business and they are not sleeping on it.
Hundreds of these startups are already investing their best energies and resources in launching, developing or improving upon digital curation tools of one kind or another.
If in just a five-year period we have gone from a handful of curation tools (Pinterest, Delicious, and a few others) to hundreds of alternative choices, there must be a reason. Or more than one.
Reason one: Abundance of information. When there is excess quantity or over-abundance of any resource, then filtering and selecting becomes highly valuable.
From Yahoo (curated) to Google (search), from Google to curation again, this is the age of “trusted guides”. Trustworthy subject-matter expert individuals that you can put a name on.
Reason two: We like to trust humans we know and respect, not secret algorithms. Search is a wild guess. You always need to go and check each and every result suggested. Curated collections (the serious ones, not the ones created by 99% of content marketers today) are one stop-shops. They are true time-savers. They are characterized by one or more trusted, experienced persons who have taken on the task of continuously finding, gathering, vetting and presenting the best resources for a specific need / interest / problem. These collections are still a rare thing to find today, but once this phase where curation is promoted as a second-class time-saving smartass-content-production-strategy, you will be amazed. (Google itself will greatly benefit from this, as it increasingly relies on such curated results.)
Reason three: The technology is here. The only problem for now is that it has been too much in the hands of eager entrepreneurs moved by profits more than purpose and too little by educators, journalists, librarians and passionate amateurs who are the true movers of this revolution.
Tools, languages, protocols to capture, record, store, organize and publish curated collections are all available and mature and need only better design thinking to be properly developed.
Specialized content curation tools are now available to everyone wanting to curate specific content. Here a few examples:
- News: Scoop.it, Flipboard.com
- Images: Dribbble, Behance,
- Video: Waywire, Zeeik.com, Vidlogs
- Tools: ZEEF, Listly
- People: Wholi
- Music: Soundcloud
- Films: Jaman, CollectorZ
- Books: Librarything, Listal, Booknshelf
- Art: Saatchionline, Artsy
- Textbooks: McGraw-Hill Create, Boundless
- Fashion: Polyvore, Nuji, Styloko
- Personal brand: Flavors.me, About.me
And I could go on.
What characterizes all of these curation tools, is their ability to:
a) capture, excerpt or clip a small portion of an original information artifact (be it text, image, music, video, etc.).
b) facilitate its organized archival inside a stream, category system or folksonomy of some kind.
c) showcase items in the collection in a personalized fashion, while providing the ability to add value to them.
d) publish, share and distribute such curated content across multiple online channels (website / blog, Facebook, Twitter, other social media, RSS feed, email newsletter, etc.).
But what has all this to do with education and learning?
These curation tools are weapons of individual transformation. They are instruments of study and exploration that, when used appropriately, allow us to investigate, question, and interpret the data we have in new and different ways.
Curation tools are ultimately revolutionary tools as they redistribute endlessly the last word and evaluation of something, not to the original author, but to those who will curate it downstream by further review, research and investigation.
Curation tools support work that reflects a view of reality that is not monolithic but in continuous evolution. A view of reality which needs not be rigidly transmitted from the top down, but which needs to be continuously re-evaluated and interpreted, from generation to generation, within its age and context.
Curation tools take away the exclusive authority to sense-making and understanding owned by appointed “experts”, officials and high priests, and offer the opportunity to further augment it by redistributing it in the hands of passionate topic researchers, journalists, bloggers: the new curators.
This is why, I think that these curation tools will deeply transform the way we learn and educate ourselves in the near future.
- Anyone can start curating right now. There’s no shortage of tools and information (though a lot of it is misleading or outright incorrect) on what curation is and how to do it.
- More people get exposed to curation and start to become aware of its true role, usefulness and value.
- Number and variety of curation tools increases.
- More free and open-source solutions become available as non-profit orgs and institutions understand the value of curation and financially support development of projects and tools in this area.
- Costs for content curation tools are going to come down as more and more competition enters the market.
- Features and capabilities of these tools will also improve especially on the search and discovery side (better filtering tools) as well as on the presentation and display ones (ability to zoom in and out and to see the collection from different detail levels).
- Curation tools become more specialized and will focus on providing tools to curate specific information areas rather than being swiss army knives that can be used for many different purposes (Pinterest, Evernote, etc.).
- Many new curation startups do not make it. Some get acquired or go out of business leaving users who have used them to organize valuable info in need of easy ways to export and save their work elsewhere.
- Google greatly benefits from this as more and more of his search results which try to answer requests to know more about a specific topic, are made up by curated content.
- Curation slowly mines modern education basic tenets as it calls for a learning approach based on exploration and questioning rather by indoctrination.
- To curate and organize the growing universe of curation tools and technologies. (Here’s my very humble effort at this: https://contentcuration.zeef.com/ — avidly looking for a sponsor to build a better one.)
- To organize and curate many more information spaces, making valuable information more accessible and easier to find, thus providing a tangible benefit to society in general.
- To challenge Wikipedia at what it does, by attacking the issue from more specific angles and vertical interests rather than by trying to use one system and approach for all.
- To let a much greater number of subject-matter experts, professors, teachers and trainers to effectively showcase their competence and know-how in specific areas while providing a useful service/benefit to everyone else.
Thank you for reading.
I am Robin Good, an independent author / publisher with a terminal addiction: help others effectively communicate, learn and market their ideas by exploring new ethical venues, innovative strategies and uncharted territories outside the mainstream.
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