Hacking Content Overload: Becoming Curators

My spouse gets exasperated with how fast I read.  I read the last Harry Potter in about 6 hours and just read a hyper-masculine body shop magazine Twilight in about 4 hours.  I appreciate this gift because I have 2000 items to read in my GReader everyday and a few hundred Facebook updates of people I appreciate.  It's a lot of reading and skimming and starring items for further study later...but it's part of my daily routine and I wouldn't trade it.

However, what annoys me is that I read the same thing about 5-6 times (at least).  It's great as I get many different perspectives but for information-only stuff, it's lots of clutter and what others have called the social media echo-chamber.  Parroting tech specs or talking points wears on me and wears out the J button (GReader inside joke!).  But I don't want to unsubscribe because of the other content on those feeds.  So how can one sort through the different feeds and find the wheat among the chaff?

Last year, Internet addict thinker Steve Rubel had a solution to sorting through the ballooning amount of content: following Digital Curators that find great internet stuff, clean it up, frame it, and share it.  It's not Digg as aggregate voting by the masses is finding what's popular, not what's the best.  Museum Curators find the best and offer it in frameworks of their choosing.  Same approach for our digital lifestyle: if you trust a person, you'll read their stuff because you know it will be quality.

For example, on Facebook I have Curator friends whose links I always read...because I know them in RL and trust them and we usually have like interests. I know my facebook posted links, friendfeed, and twitter function like Curators for others given the amount of responses on them.  I only post what I like and what I think others would like.  In this way, niche Curators like myself (also called Long Tail editors) can be found and relied on for a specific area of content.

So how is this relevant to the Church?  It's almost like there's an inverse process in every medium:
  • When a medium's content is professionalized, amateurization opens up the medium (ie. blogs opened up journalism from newspapers)
  • When a medium's content is amateurized, professionalization brings out the subjective best of that medium (Curators cut through the clutter and find the good stuff)
As I wrote before, the amateurization of the church is upon us as pastors, denominations, and small groups become ran by amateurs rather than solid professionals.  Perhaps rather than pushing back or setting new standards or crying Chicken Little we should find ways to become Curators of our medium.
  • Community Curators: In our communities, we can highlight community events and offer the church's hospitality and presence to them. In this way, churches can support the best the community has to offer and use its gifts to make it even better. If we hold up certain events and ignore others, perhaps the best of the community will rise up and make the community a better place.  What other ways can we become curators of our communities, holding up the best of what's going on?
  • Denominational Curators: In our denominational variances and regional differences being played out on the national scene, perhaps loosening up expression of denominational faith (women pastors, etc) and holding up how in each area particular pastors or programs are ideally expressing that regions' faith values.  What other ways can we become curators of our denominations, holding up the best of what we have to offer?
  • Biblical Curators: before the bible was written people were entrusted with the stories of Christ and they held those stories in trust and in the community.  Perhaps today as bible tools are better available and everyone's opines from dumb to worse can be found online, perhaps churches should become curators again.  Churches can hold up particular stories and go into great depth with them instead of the cursory Lectionary readings and offer true deep insight into the Scriptures.
In short, with the glut of denominations, the rise of amateur local pastors (not in a negative sense), and the proliferation of pseudo-biblical-research on the internet, what roles as Curators might the church be called to play?

Thoughts?  Welcome to our visitors!


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Disclaimer: all original content reflects the personal opinions of Rev. Jeremy Smith, not the doctrinal positions or statements of the United Methodist Church local and global.
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