Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Curation - A View from The Future: Ross Dawson

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What is curation? Does it really help or is it adding more noise to the soundwave of information already coming at us? Where do you draw the line between social sharing, personal expression and true curation? Is there one?

Photo credit: Ross Dawson

A few weeks back I have had the opportunity to catch futurist Ross Dawson, passing through Rome in between two events, and I kindly asked him if he would be willing to answer a few questions in front of my video camera.

Ross promptly accepted and here is the first part of this video interview with him.

In it I ask him:

a) what he suggests to people who want to "make sense of the world", when bombarded by such large amounts of information. How do you make sense of how things are?

b) What is "curation"?

c) Is there any difference between personal, serendipitous social sharing and content curation?

d) What is the key discriminator between the two?

Here the clips of my four questions to Ross Dawson alongside with a full English text transcription of each one. Enjoy.


How To Make Sense of the World

Duration: 1':20"

Ross Dawson: One of the best ways to make sense of the world is scenario planning or scenarios, where you build a number of worlds for what might happen and that's relevant to you and to use these as filters to be able to say, "Well, when I see new things happening, how does this indicate that one world is likely or what the implications are?"

That takes a lot of work.

It's a real long term, structured process. I think it is enormously valuable, enormously worthwhile, though it does require the investment.

More generally I believe in what I call frameworks. That's what I try to do for myself and for anyone else who finds it useful to try to put a structure visually to say, "This is a relationship to that and that's a relationship to something else."

We have more and more visual tools to be able to do that and I think we all should try to put things down in places to try to say, "Well, this is the central idea and that's how it relates to something else."

I think mindmaps can also be useful, but [their limit is that] they're ultimately hierarchies.

...all of us should be playing around with saying, "What are the main ideas in this area? What are the main ideas important to me? How are they related to each other?"

As you look at that and see new things, that's an enormously valuable filter around what is interesting, what is useful, what I need to pay attention to, and what I don't.


What Is Curation

Duration: 0':56"

Ross Dawson: Curation is selecting what is relevant, selecting what is interesting... ...and this is now becoming almost overwhelming in terms of how many people are doing that.

It's what I do for myself as I share on Twitter or on other social networks or what I bookmark for myself... the things that I find interesting and want to go back to or feel are worth sharing.

There is immense value in it.

Part of the challenge is [that] almost everybody's a curator now.

Again, curation is not necessarily filtering, it's [also] adding to how much [information] overload we [already] have.

I think that the mechanisms [we should be seeking are those that help us] combine human judgment and algorithms to curate, to select better.

Ultimately, [the goal is to reach a point] where I can wake up in the morning and I can say I know I have seen the most interesting and relevant things for me.

We're a long way away from that.

I'm surprised, still, the art of curation or the science of curation, whichever it is, is still not as advanced as it could be or should be.


Is Social Sharing a Form of Curation?

Duration: 0':47"

Ross Dawson: Is social sharing the same thing as curation?

It's an interesting question. I think for some people, they are the same, but in many cases, social sharing is who you are as a person.

It's what you think will interest your friends, which shows something about yourself.

Whereas curation is [geared] usually to a particular area.

Sometimes, they can overlap, but [a curator] is usually [someone] saying, "I'm in a particular area. I am the expert. I know what there is. I'm doing that for people who are interested that topic, people I want to demonstrate my expertise too."

The curation largely becomes a professional activity and social sharing, by its name, a social activity.

Again: In some cases, they can very largely overlap and I think they significantly do for me.


What Intent You Have Determines The Type of Curation You Do

Duration: 1':11"

Ross Dawson: I think it's very interesting to look at the intent of curation.

In some cases, it is to demonstrate expertise, to become famous, which is valid, but that's different from where you say, "I am contributing. I found something really interesting and I want to give that to others."

I [often] talk about this idea of contributing to the "global brain" and having that intent means that when you find something you think will be valuable to others you [do whatever is in your powers to make them see it]... that's that intent of contributing.

There's three, perhaps, [types of] intent.

a) One is to contribute to others, to give.

b) Another is to develop your own expertise. I think that's one of the ways to be able to search for and share things actually does make you know more, and I think that's very valid.

c) [The third one, which] is equally valid, though perhaps a little too overdone at the moment, is just people curating so that people look at them...

...and that's -- I suppose -- the three different intents, that people have, behind curation.

Playlist - Compilation of all Clips

Duration: 4':14"


Originally written and curated by and first published on MasterNewMedia on June 19th 2012 as "Curation - A View from The Future: Ross Dawson".

Robin Good -
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posted by Robin Good on Tuesday, June 19 2012, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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