Stop Calling It Curation | wealth business & social media |

Imagine, if you will, a world in which Richard Seaver or Robert Gottlieb had stomped their feet and huffed and puffed every time John Leonard forgot to give them their proper "hat tip." Or rather, as I joked on Twitter over the weekend about the new "Curator's Code," if Goethe had lived long enough to chide Mann for writing about Faust and giving a "ᔥ" to Marlowe but forgetting to give a "↬" to Goethe.

It's funny to think about! But only for a minute, since after that it all just becomes too depressing for words, because what we talk about when we talk about curation first of all sure ain't curation and secondly isn't even all that special. But mostly it's depressing because it's a conversation that happens at the expense of original content itself.

First, let's just get clear on the terminology here: "Curation" is an act performed by people with PhDs in art history; the business in which we're all engaged when we're tossing links around on the Internet is simple "sharing." And some of us are very good at that! (At least if we accept "very good" to mean "has a large audience.")

But we should not delude ourselves for a moment into bestowing any special significance on this, because when we do this thing that so many of us like to call "curation" we're not providing any sort of ontology or semantic continuity beyond that of our own whimsy or taste or desire. "Interesting things" or "smart things" are not rubrics that make the collection and dissemination of data that happens on the Internet anything closer to a curatorial act; these categories are ultimately still reducible to "things I find appealing," and regardless of how special one might feel about the highly cultivated state of his or her tastes there is no threshold of how many other people are eager to be on the receiving end of whatever it is we're sharing that somehow magically transforms this act into curation—that is, at least, unless we're also comfortable with arguing that "curation" is the act in which Buzzfeed is engaged. Or The Huffington Post. Or the top contributor on those weightlifting comment boards....

Via Jeff Domansky, Os Ishmael