It all started with the printing press.
The printing press was the first piece of technology that enabled information to pass rapidly to the world's people. Because of it, books and newspapers were created that inspired uprisings and cultural transformations in religion, government and society. It was at this time that the first "editors" were established to help create and and deliver information to people in their communities. Further down the line, information was distributed via media like radio, television and magazines, each meticulously curated by trusted editors in a field or community. Over the last couple of decades, we saw the birth of the Internet, which enabled hundreds of years of information from all of these platforms to be digitized and made searchable online. It's no wonder Google was born -- there was an infinite amount of information to organize out there.
Today, the Internet is, in fact, fairly well organized. The Google index spans billions of web pages and enables users to search and algorithmically find whatever it is they are looking for.
But, what if they don't know what they're looking for? Or, if they have an idea, what if it's not specific enough? Have you ever tried to do a search for "Thanksgiving Recipes" and wound up clicking on links for 30 minutes? Therein lies one of the biggest problems on the web today.
In recent years, platforms like Facebook and Twitter (and even more recently, Google) have begun to attack this problem by driving social discovery of news and information by focusing on filtering the web through the lens of your friends and influencers. On today's web, our friend lists are growing into the thousands, including a list of hundreds of brands. Our friends and the brands we love are constantly vying for our attention and our trust. Anyone who frequents today's Internet would certainly say that there's an information and social overload. It is because of this that many even say that, in order to be more creative, one must free herself from the computer and find ideas and inspiration in the outside world.
I beg to differ.
With all of the information and all of the people together in one place, there are even more opportunities for creating, sharing, and discovering ideas. But you can't necessarily go search for them -- sometimes you just don't know what to look for. The ideas should come to you, and they should come through a channel whose expertise and taste you trust. In the analog world, when one wants fashion advice, they turn to Anna Wintour, creator of Vogue. When one wants to cook, they grab a cookbook with recipes written and edited by a chef they trust and admire. It was at last year's D8 conference that the late Steve Jobs even said: "I think we need editorial more than ever right now." I cautiously agree.
These days, anyone on the web can be an editor, but not everyone can be both an editor and a curator. Editors refine and improve already-written content to be published. Curators, by modern definition, carefully and decisively choose among the best of all that's available and often create entirely new ideas and perspectives out of that information, all while using their own voice. It's as if the curators define, and the editors refine. Editors improve content authored by others; the curators are those authors. The Internet has given rise to all kinds of bite-sized editorial content - photos, videos, and even 140-character sentences. Curators can find the best bits and pieces of this content and evolve it into a bigger picture or idea. Because of the information overload we're all facing, people of the Internet are starting to find that they need their own set of digital curators: human beings (not algorithms, and not a 1,000 person friend list) whom they can relate to and trust, and who have expertise, real-life experiences, and the ability to filter and share bold perspectives.
Yuri Milner, a popular Russian Internet investor who has invested in Facebook, Groupon, and Zynga, says the next space he's looking at is Curation, "With the number of sources, and doubling of information every 18, 24 months. I think the next big thing is curation."
Furthermore, I believe that the people best poised to be curators of the Internet are those from the Facebook Generation -- the first generation of native web citizens, mainly people in their 20s or early 30s who have grown up with the web and can navigate, scour, synthesize and then publish the best of what's out there on a daily basis because they practically live online. It is our generation that will also be able to more easily understand where new opportunities lie because they can quickly pinpoint where the gaps are in content, services, and products.
It's for these reasons I was inspired to launch my new company, Brit. Our mission is to both curate and create innovative new ways for busy, but inspired people to live more simply, beautifully and creatively. To start, we will be curating and creating Internet content as the first avenue for sharing this information. Second, we will be curating, but also creating, online software and mobile apps that will strive to provide a more convenient and elegant way to discover new things, the first of which is called Weduary. And in parallel, we're also curating and creating consumer products that we hope will help people add simplicty and beauty to their lives.
For all of the incredible doors the web has opened for the world, it's also overwhelmed us with an amount of content that we'll never be able to absorb. The curated web is an important next step to provide people with the ideas and information they are looking for before they even know they are looking for it. Who will you trust to guide you?
Follow Brit Morin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/brit