Digital Curation as the Future of the Web

When I first started this post, I posed the title as a question — “Is Digital Curation the Future of the Web?” In the months since it was first an idea on a drawing board, however, the question has evolved into a statement. The propensity of content has actually given added importance to the quality and relevance of the content itself, pointing to the growing need for “digital curation” as a whole, and what it means in an age of social DIY networking.

Especially as of late, I have been thinking a lot about the future of the Web, and what it means at a time when it has become such a deeply-embedded part of our daily lives and the devices we touchFrom watching our favorite TV shows and reading the  news to sharing collections of photographs from our latest travels with friends far and near, the last several years have demonstrated the potential of a consumer web that has evolved far beyond its original purposes in serving private, secure enterprise networks.

This growing dependency on the Internet has also led to a seemingly never-ending stream of content, with a site dedicated to every imaginable subject and interest. For the publishing industry, this type of rapid migration to digital consumption of media has forced new business models from a sector so firmly rooted in ink and paper.  For journalists and writers, it has also raised the ever-so-delicate predicament of earning a wage when consumers by and large expect content to be free.

As a result, many journalists and publishers have bemoaned the death of journalism for a good number of years, often describing the state of the industry as one reaching its “twilight stages”, on the brink of bankruptcy and despair. However, I see the digital era — and the future of the Web — as one that marks new beginnings, and a renaissance of sorts, for journalists and content creators.

Instead of owning the entire content creation process — from sourcing a story, to interviewing, to writing, fact checking and publishing a story — journalists today have the added ability to tap into the wealth of content online, quickly bringing in new perspectives, angles, images, videos, and audio files.  And perhaps, more than an option, this is a new sort of responsibility in and of itself.

After all, the art of journalism has always been to tell stories — uncovering facts and new perspectives to allow individual readers to make their own choices and form their own opinions from the widest pool of relevant references available.  Digital curation is about taking the broadened pool of content and threading them together in a way that creates vetted for, relevant collections of content for readers.

Beyond journalism, the growing popularity of sites like Pinterest also point to a need among individual consumers to be able to systematically categorize and share content.  Under the theme of “boards”, Pinterest allows users to “pin” images, videos, and content pieces from around the Internet onto customized boards that others can broadly “like”, comment on, and share.

Even as journalists are slowly getting onto Facebook as a way of engaging with readers, providing links to relevant articles, Pinterest (or an iteration thereof), will be a model that better suits their needs in the age of digital curation.  Rather than having ad hoc links, journalists will have the ability to carefully curate collections of content on topics they cover, building stories over time and perspectives in centralized locations instead of introducing them as fragments along the way.

What are your thoughts on this issue and how have you curated your digital experience? Follow my personal Pinterest board at http://pinterest.com/wenwenqi 

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