A Call for Curators

Steve Rubel calls content a commodity and says the “Attention Crash” is real and that it’s only going to get worse. Of course, he wouldn’t say those things without offering a remedy.

Enter the Digital Curator.
Information overload makes it difficult to separate junk from art. It requires a certain finesse and expertise – a fine tuned, perhaps trained eye. Google, memetrackers such as Techmeme and social news sites like digg are not curators. They’re aggregators – and there’s a big difference.
The call of the curator requires people who are selfless and willing to act as sherpas and guides. They’re identifiable subject matter experts who dive through mountains of digital information and distill it down to its most relevant, essential parts. Digital Curators are the future of online content. Brands, media companies and dedicated individuals can all become curators. Further, they don’t even need to create their own content, just as a museum curator rarely hangs his/her own work next to a Da Vinci. They do, however, need to be subject matter experts.

Rubel goes on to say curators are not editors. I veer off at that point. The act of sifting through vast collections and offering the juiciest parts is, in fact, a form of editing. I’ll also challenge his claim that brands need to be “subject matter experts.” Not exactly. But they do need to know who the “subject matter experts” are, and then hire them to curate and/or create content. Redken’s OutofTown.tv, where they turn to Flavorpill for expertise, is a good example.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.