THE BLOG

Curate The Cloud -

07/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Steve Rosenbaum CEO, Waywire Networks; author, ‘Curate This’; Speaker: on curation and storytelling

There's a storm brewing. A huge, noisy, thunder and lightning storm of content, community and chaos. But there's good news too - there's a silver lining in the Cloud.

And now - with the announcement that the Apple iPhone will in fact become a video recording device, we surely can see that the content creation chaos is only going to increase in the months ahead.

This is good news. Great news if you're a publisher, blogger, or advertiser.

Okay, I know it doesn't feel that way now - but let me take you on a journey into the future. Not the far future, the future just around the bend - to a time when news finds you. To a time when publishing is effortless. When content contribution is expected and enjoyable. To a time when the Cloud is full of Content, and Curating The Cloud is managed by a band of paid professionals and well-compensated media wranglers.

Here's the analogy:

There was a time before you could dial 911. Back then, if you saw a car accident, or a robbery, you would have to find a pay phone and call the police. Folks did that, of course. Then came standardized 911. And cell phones. Emergency reporting is way up. Why? Because technology was deployed that made it at first possible, and then a societal obligation. When you see someone who needs help, you call 911.

My point is, technology fuels behavioral changes and shifts norms.

Now - remember that last family vacation you took were the promised hotel wasn't all the advertising suggested? Crappy hotel rooms? A crazy long walk/cab ride to the attractions that were supposed to be right around the corner? Well, what did you do about it? Probably nothing. But that's about to change. Because portable video cameras that are wi-fi and cell enabled (that is what the new iPhone is after all) are going to create a sea-change of behavior that will quickly explode the cloud with new content. Some of it will be quite useful, lots of it will be inconsequential. And the curation function is going to be sorely needed - soon.

This is good news for journalists looking for what the future needs from their skill set. The good news for them is that demand for people able to separate fact from fiction, and sort content into contextual and accessible collections, is on the rise.

So, what does it mean to Curate The Cloud? And how does this behavior make both social and business sense?

First off all, the Cloud is a wide-open space that has no barrier to entry. Anyone can contribute, anyone can play. This is incredibly exciting - and the former barriers to entry are falling faster than anyone could have imagined. Even the expensive technologies that seemed like they would keep UGC (user-generated video) from Pro Video are falling fast. High Def, for example, is now standard issue on the $199 pocket FlipCam.

But as the crowd grows larger, the signal to noise ratio becomes unwieldy. And old mechanisms like tagging and crowdsourcing aren't able to keep up with the volume. Here's where the Curators come in.

Being a Curator requires a point of view. Not just a vast gathering of material on a subject, but a narrower, more focused subset of content around that subject area.

Take, for example, Foosball. Yes, you read that right. Foosball turns out to be a place were content on the web is prolific and yet often undifferentiated. What is Pro-Foosball video vs. simply video shot in a bar with a pitcher of beer? Here's a place where a Curator comes in, adding a point of view, human review, and categorization of content: http://foosball.tv/

My point is that Curating The Cloud isn't a mechanical job. It's not going to be solved with artificial intelligence or shipping containers full of processors. It is deeply editorial, and in a world of unlimited choice, curators are fast going to be the most important filters in your life. They will be the windows through which we see the world, and the point of view that makes content valuable rather than overwhelming.

Simply put, curators know who we are.

And the Content Cloud - already vast and hard to navigate - is now poised to quickly surpass even the most generous projections of size and scope. Video will be both the web's 'killer app' and, for those of us who really try to drink from the firehose without benefit of some filters and focus, overwhelming and unmanageable.

This may explain why young people seem to understand what many mid-career journalists do not. After all, how else can you explain that applications at the Columbia Journalism School are up an astounding 40% for the upcoming academic year? Content creation and content curation aren't mutually exclusive.

Curation is the future, and curators are going to be in high demand.