Here is another in my series on SXSW events. I am pleased to be attending SXSW for the first time. I am grateful for Adobe Acrobat for enabling me to attend. I will be attending their all day Creative Camp Event on March 12, as well as some other Adobe sponsored sessions. As I do with other events I will be posting my notes from most of the sessions I attend. This is the session on The Curators and the Curated led by David Carr. Columnist/Reporter/Blogger, The New York Times, Maria Popova, Founder Brain Pickings, and Max Linsky, co-founder, longform.org. David Carr writes a column for the Monday Business section of the New York Times that focuses on media issues including print, digital, film, radio and television. He also works as a general assignment reporter in the Culture section of The New York Times covering all aspects of popular culture.Please excuse any typos and they notes are near real time. Here is the session description.
"At the heart of our conversation: the relationship between publishers of original content and the web’s most influential curators. Seems simple, right? Content creators get eyeballs and curators get work to share. But with some curators dwarfing publications in size and influence, and with some publishers investing heavily in curation projects of their own, that relationship is getting a little complicated. We’ll get our hands dirty and break down just how important curators and publishers are to each other, how money plays into things and how attribution has become a lost art. Other fun stuff you’ll learn: what makes a curator influential, how content-creators can be curator friendly (and vice versa), and the evolving distinction between curation and aggregation.”
The first speaker said the theme for the session was about “David Carr giving us advice.” We saw a video about finding great content and the connections between content fro ma wide number of people. It is not just selection but the way you pick it. The role of the curators is finding things that people will enjoy. The latest content is not necessarily the best. Ideas are the most valuable thing we have.
The term curation is getting over used and has many definitions. What is difference between curation and aggregation? The answers are from everyone as it was hard to separate them. Curation is by people who make choices. Aggregation is done by technology and algorithms and people are more interesting. Curation also has a moral lens and aggregation does not. In terms of the Huffington Post it is about what maximizes traffic. There is not a moral lens here. Someone said it is different to have a moral lens and a moral lens you agree with. David said that the moral lens does not work well as a concept (because it is relative?).
In the act of curation you making a decision about what is important. Curators provide a pattern of information that has a message about what is important in the world. Maria launched the curator’s code yesterday. She has been working on it for a year. The act of bringing content to people is act of art. She has some signs for it. One if you found the idea elsewhere and another that if you found the idea elsewhere but expanded on it. See curatorscode.org.
David Carr said we should not get to hung up on curation as new. Editors have been making decisions like this for a long time. The front page of the New York Times is a significant act of curation. What are the six most important stories in the world today?
David said when the consumer Web started we thought we are going to learn new things. But people click on what they want so things remain siloed. People use their Facebook and Twitter friends that think as they do. There is not as cross-fetization. I would agrue that of anything there is even more silos as there are mre niche sites that appeal to people with special viewpoints and they get all their news from there. There was a Pew study that found that people who watched Fox News on TV got more errors on current events that those that did not watch TV news at all. Of course, there are TV stations with a progressive bias, as well.
What is the relationship between curation and original content? Brain Pickings has relationships with original publishers and helps link them to targeted advertisers. Many curators have started their blogs as a bookmark for themselves. Others have liked their taste and followed them. I use both Twitter and my blog for this same purpose. Twitter bookmarks things and then some of them become the source for blog posts. My blog primarily serves as my personal knowledge system, like the notes for this session.
The circulation manager should not run the paper and this applies to Web curation also. Maria does her service as a non-profit for this reason.
David said there is an impulse to share is what good but it is also a way to try to gain status and can have the wrong motives. David said that one way Maria works well is that she can do serendipity very well. There is great value to this.
David finds Flipboard to be very useful in part because it is beautiful to look at.
At longform they post four stories every day. They tried eight and twelve and it made no difference so they settled on four. David that this is like the six stories on the front page of the New York Times. Aside from sex, new and old stories get clicked on the same number of times. In find the majority of the most popular posts on my blog for a year are not from that year.
David said it is easier for a curator to create great content absent ads. When they first thought about charging for online content at the New York Times, people said it would fail. They now have 280,000 people paying for their content. It is beginning to get to be more revenue from the consumer than from ads. The more the New York Times goes toward the consumer as revenue stream, the better the content gets.
A question was about having people pay for content after they read it. Some people are trying this but longform Is not doing it.
David said that when he worked for a Minneapolis paper that got selective on ads and the paper failed while the one that was non-selective survived.