Content Curators Are The New Superheros Of The Web

From Fast Company  BY Expert Blogger Steven Rosenbaum | 04-16-2012 | 6:17 AM

This blog is written by a member of our expert blogging community and expresses that expert’s views alone.

Yesterday, the ever-churning machine that is the Internet pumped out more unfiltered digital data.

Yesterday, 250 million photos were uploaded to Facebook, 864,000 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube, and 294 BILLION emails were sent. And that’s not counting all the check-ins, friend requests, Yelp reviews and Amazon posts, and pins on Pintrest.

The volume of information being created is growing faster than your software is able to sort it out. As a result, you’re often unable to determine the difference between a fake LinkedIn friend request, and a picture from your best friend in college of his new baby. Even with good metadata, it’s still all “data”–whether raw unfiltered, or tagged and sourced, it’s all treated like another input to your digital inbox.

What’s happened is the web has gotten better at making data. Way better, as it turns out. And while algorithms have gotten better at detecting spam, they aren’t keeping up with the massive tide of real-time data.

While devices struggle to separate spam from friends, critical information from nonsense, and signal from noise, the amount of data coming at us is increasingly mind-boggling.

In 2010 we frolicked, Googled, waded, and drowned in 1.2 zettabytes of digital bits and bytes. A year later volume was on an exponential growth curve toward 1.8 zettabytes. (A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes; that’s a 1 with 21 zeros trailing behind it.)

Which means it’s time to enlist the web’s secret power–humans.

If you want to understand how fast curation is growing on the web, just take a look at Pinterest. The two-year-old visual clipping and publishing platform has now surpassed 10 million users, making it the fastest-growing web service on the web ever, according to Comscore. Comscore reported that Pinterest was the fastest independent site to hit 10 million monthly uniques in the U.S.

Curation is the act of individuals with a passion for a content area to find, contextualize, and organize information. Curators provide a consistent update regarding what’s interesting, happening, and cool in their focus. Curators tend to have a unique and consistent point of view–providing a reliable context for the content that they discover and organize. To be clear, Pinterest both creates tools to organize the noisy web and, at the same time, creates more instances of information in a different context. So it’s both part of the problem, and a solution. The trick is finding the Pinterest pinboards that you like, and tune out the rest.

Sites like BoingBoing and Brain Pickings are great content curators. And now brands are getting into the act. Harley Davidson’s site Ridebook features content in culture, style, music, and travel. And increasingly, curators are emerging as a critical filter that helps niche content consumers find “signal” in noise. Jason Hirschhorn’s Media reDEFined newsletter distributes posts on digital media, mobile, gaming, and web content. A barebones newsletter of links, it has become a “must read” curated daily offering for anyone trying to stay in touch with the fast-moving pace of change in media. But curation isn’t limited to media. The Haymarket-owned site Clinical Advisor now curates web video for nurse practitioners.

Superheroes are extraordinary humans who dedicate themselves to protecting the public. And anyone who’s trying to keep their head above the proverbial “water” of the web, the rising tide of data and information, knows that we need super-help…and fast.

So anyone who steps up and volunteers to curate in their area of knowledge and passion is taking on a Herculean task. They’re going to stand between the web and their readers, using all of the tools at their disposal to “listen” to the web, and then pull out of the data stream nuggets of wisdom, breaking news, important new voices, and other salient details. It’s real work, and requires a tireless commitment to being engaged and ready to rebroadcast timely material. While there may be an economic benefit for being a “thought leader” and “trusted curator,” it’s not going to happen overnight. Which is to say, being a superhero is often a thankless job.

The growth in content, both in terms of pure volume and the speed of publishing, has raised some questions about what best practices are in the curation space. Here’s where you should start

1.  If you don’t add context, or opinion, or voice and simply lift content, it’s stealing.
2.  If you don’t provide attribution, and a link back to the source, it’s stealing.
3.  If you take a large portion of the original content, it’s stealing.
4.  If someone asks you not to curate their material, and you don’t respect that request, it’s stealing.
5.  Respect published rights. If images don’t allow creative commons use, reach out to the image creator–don’t just grab it and ask questions later.

How will curation evolve? A group of curators led by blogger Maria Popova are promoting a Curators Code. But this new collection of attribution symbols is getting early mixed reviews. New York Times columnist David Carr called the code a useful attempt for “creating visible connections between seemingly disparate pieces of information.” But others pointed out that the hyperlink has been providing attribution for years.

One thing I’m sure of–the web is going to keep growing fast. And the solution to making sense of the massive volume is a new engaged partnership between humans and machines. There are a number of companies building cool solutions you can explore if you’re looking for curation tools. Among them: Curata, CurationSoft,, Google+,,,,, Storyful,Evri,, Pearltrees, and of course (where I hang my hat).

So, if you’re ready to be a superhero, now’s the time. The web needs you. Your readers need you. All you need is a web browser and a cape. The rest is up to you.

[Image: Flickr user Zach Dischner]

Declare Something!

Seth Godin offers a bit of crucial advice in the process of producing a result.

Declaring Victory

Where Do You Want To End Up?

Whenever you start a project, you should have a plan for finishing it.

One outcome is to declare victory, to find that moment when you have satisfied your objectives and reached a goal.

The other outcome, which feels like a downer but is almost as good, is to declare failure, to realize that you’ve run out of useful string and it’s time to move on. I think the intentional act of declaring becomes an essential moment of learning, a spot in time where you consider inputs and outputs and adjust your strategy for next time.

If you are unable to declare, then you’re going to slog, and instead of starting new projects based on what you’ve learned, you’ll merely end up trapped. I’m not suggesting that you flit. A project might last a decade or a generation, but if it is to be a project, it must have an end.

One of the challenges of an open-ended war or the Occupy movement is that they are projects where failure or victory wasn’t understood at the beginning. While you may be tempted to be situational about this, to know it when you see it, to decide as you go, it’s far more powerful and effective to define victory or failure in advance.

To get in the habit  give it a try using your average day.  Just declare three things as a victory about your day. They don’t have to be significant, but if they are, you’re on your way to the next step which involves celebration.  Seth is right.  Boxing ourselves in about what we’re up to accomplishing has power.

Declare one or the other, but declare. All we have is our word anyway.

Pandora To Relaunch As A Social Network

  • Pandora to relaunch as a social network
    Internet music service Pandora says it will relaunch as a music-themed social network. Users will be invited to “like” and  comment on tracks, and will be able to see what their friends are listening to and talking about. “From the looks of things, the new Pandora appears to be a big improvement in just about every way, although it still lacks a way to let users listen together to the same thing at the same time,” Eliot Van Buskirk writes. blog (7/12), USA TODAY/Technology Live blog (7/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

NY Times – E-Mail Still Rules When It Comes To Sharing

  • 6 types of content sharers
    A study commissioned by The New York Times identifies six types of users among its heavy sharers of content — including  those who share job-related news, those who share on behalf of a cause and those who forward links to stimulate controversy and discussion. The study found that e-mail is the preferred way of sharing content, because of the intimacy of the one-to-one connection, and because of the privacy the medium offers. (7/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

The Speed Of Trust

The Speed of Trust – By Stephen M. R. Covey

Have you ever trusted someone–and gotten “burned?” Have you ever failed to trust someone and missed significant opportunities as a result? The practical issues with regard to extending trust are these: How do you know when to trust somebody? And how can you extend trust to people in ways that create rich rewards without taking inordinate risk?

When you’re dealing with trust, it seems there are two extremes. On one end of the spectrum, people don’t trust enough. They’re suspicious. They hold things close to the vest. Often, the only people they really trust are themselves. On the other end, people are too trusting. They’re totally gullible. They believe anyone, trust everyone. They have a simplistic, naive view of the world, and they don’t even really think (except superficially) about the need to protect their interests.

Extending trust can bring great results. It also creates the possibility of significant risk. The decision to trust or not to trust is always an issue of managing risk and return. So how do you hit the “sweet spot?” How do you extend trust in a way that maximizes the dividends and minimizes the risk?

Life is filled with risk. However, as noted historian and law professor Stephen Carter has observed: “Civility has two parts: generosity when it is costly, and trust, even when there is risk.” The objective, then, is not to avoid risk. In the first place, you can’t; and in the second place, you wouldn’t want to because risk taking is an essential part of life and leadership. Instead, the objective is to manage risk wisely–to extend trust in a way that will avoid the “taxes” and create the greatest “dividends” over time.

Learning how to extend what I call “Smart Trust” is a function of two factors–your propensity to trust and your analysis. “Propensity to trust” is primarily a matter of the heart. It’s the tendency, inclination, or predisposition to believe that people are worthy of trust and a desire to extend it to them freely. “Analysis” is primarily a matter of the mind. It’s the ability to analyze, evaluate, theorize, consider implications and possibilities, and come up with logical decisions and solutions.

As you think about these two factors–“propensity to trust” and “analysis”–how would you rate yourself on each? Do you typically tend to trust people easily–or do you tend to be suspicious and hold things close? Do you tend to analyze, theorize, and ponder over things–or do you give problems your cursory attention and then move on?

While extending trust to other people always brings with it some risk, the often greater risk that’s frequently ignored is what happens when managers don’t extend trust to others. These managers usually incur much larger taxes than they think–including bureaucracy, politics, disengagement, and turnover–and they often lose the dividends that flow from extending trust, such as innovation, collaboration, partnering and loyalty. Sadly, their suspicion sometimes even helps produce the very behaviors they fear, which further validates their suspicion. By treating people as if they can’t be trusted, they help to create a collusive, downward cycle of distrust. And this is one reason why–in this “flat world” global economy–not trusting people is often the greatest risk of all.

With regard to “propensity to trust,” I once knew a business owner who was so suspicious that his employees might be stealing from him, that he would literally interrogate them almost daily. He would even do occasional spot “frisk checks” when they left the office. This man was convinced that people were trying to steal from him. In reality, no one was, but his suspicious actions drove away his most talented people who wouldn’t tolerate working in such a distrustful environment or for such a suspicious boss.

With regard to “analysis,” it’s helpful to consider three vital variables, which you can do by asking these questions:

1. What is the opportunity (the situation or task at hand)?

2. What is the risk involved? (Possible outcomes? Likelihood of outcomes? Importance of outcomes?)

3. What is the credibility (character and competence) of the people involved?

Smart Trust doesn’t mean that you extend trust to everyone. Based on the circumstances, your judgment may be to not extend trust or to extend only a limited measure of trust. In extending trust, the general guideline is to extend trust conditionally to those who are earning it and abundantly to those who have already done so. Keep in mind that even when you extend trust abundantly, there should still always be clear expectations and accountability because those are principles that actually enhance trust.

I affirm that in our “flat world” economy, the ability to establish, grow, extend, and restore trust is the key professional and personal competency of our time. And the ability to exercise Smart Trust is a vital part of that competency. It will enable you to create a powerful balance and synergy between analysis and the propensity to trust, which, in turn, will produce the judgment that enables you to effectively leverage yourself and to inspire the talent, creativity, synergy, and highest contribution of others.

Note: The preceding article is based on the book, The Speed of Trust, by Stephen M. R. Covey.

Constitutional Amendments

Start the 28th Amendment!!

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified!  Why?  Simple!  The people demanded it.  That was in 1971…before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.

Please forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on your address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message.  This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011 – Imagine…
 1. Term Limits. 12 years only, one of the possible options below..

  A. Two Six-year Senate terms
   B. Six Two-year House terms
   C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

2.  No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

3.  Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately.  All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.  Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

7. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

8. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 10-1-11

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen.  Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.  The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work. 
  If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message.  Maybe it is time..

WE CAN FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on.   If not, just delete