I’m a curator.

museum I am a proud curator. Very proud. Making music from the noise out there.

to cure: to make better.

curator: someone who makes things better.

So yep, I’m pleased to call myself a curator. Really will begin calling myself this rather than “aggregator” (sounds too mechanical, like “terminator”). Curation is an act of love, by someone who loves “knowing”. It is personal and lit by the green fuse of curiosity. It is about seeing patterns and also having experience in the field to know how to separate the chaff from the wheat.

I’ve been at it for years, piling this piece ontop of that piece, sliding one thing over another. Making tables of information. Grouping links. Writing reviews. Sharing “good stuff”. Presenting knowledge and content for others. It goes on and on, thousands of pages with tens of thousands of videos, audio, links, documents, slideshows, ebooks, people, blogs, photos, calendars and on and on …… As one person stated it – “curation is editing on steroids.”

I’ve been doing a little reassessment of things lately, of how I spend my time. Part of that is coming to terms with what I’ve been doing the last 5-7 years online.  EFL Classroom 2.0  will always remain and now spending time sharing through my Teaching English magazine – but also reassessing my own place and power to help fellow teachers.

What I’ve been doing as a “human” curator is something I see as vital to English Language Teaching. What I mean is that we need, direly need, knowledgeable professionals to decide on what is valuable and what isn’t valuable in the vast jungle of “stuff” out there online. That’s what I’ve been doing on EFL Classroom 2.0 but also on many other sites I’ve made and which serve the purpose of “rooming” and cataloging important content for ELT.

I also see another role I’ve been serving beyond allowing others to find strong materials and deep sources of knowledge – preservation. When I first started, never though of this as something important. But given how things come and go, disappear online — I’m most proud for preserving a lot of material that is really useful to teachers. Now, looking at it all, I’m really shocked at how much I have done. The numbers of downloads / visits / stored items / links is really staggering. It knocks me over. I’m kind of looking at myself and asking, “Who is/was this man”?

But I’m getting off topic. I’m not going into detail in this post. I’d be able to go on for hours about the library in my head and which pages for what and which videos I’ve revived (and been busy at that with the axing of Teacher.tv and forthcoming death of Google videos). No details, just want others to realize how important curation is and will be in the future. Here’s a recent article outlining this salient fact. Also, take a look at Steve Rosenbaum’s Curation Nation and nominate a curator you know. In fact, we are all curators in a sense. We all need to preserve the web, to share with others in a sustained fashion….

There are “mechanical” curators out there beyond the creation of a blog/webpage or bookmarking. Most notably Flipboard, Scoop.itStorify and Paper.li . These will become more important, especially in the vein of social curation. However, they are and always will be “half ass”. They will never replace a person who reads, who clicks, who culls.

When you visit a site and walk through the halls of information. Remember, there was a curator at work.

ddeubel

Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

6 Responses

  1. David Truss says:

    David,
    You are an amazing curator, and your ‘digital library’ is both extensive and well used! I am reminded of the story of “Something from Nothing” (a great version in a wonderful picture book can be found by Phoebe Gilman: http://www.phoebegilman.com/something.html )
    As a curator, you do not just collect items, you sort them in meaningful ways, add value to them, and add value to those that use them.
    Thanks for all that you do! I love how ‘the best of the best’ is being curated by many educators who openly share what they do!

  2. ddeubel says:

    David,

    thanks for dropping in! Yes, I always say I’m the online incarnation of my father (a Swiss guy who grew up in the war and saves every last thing and knows where it all is!).

    I forgot to link one article/reference. Just updated above. Might be an interesting read for you or others. I’ve seen aggregation develop and knew it would have a future – however, only recently have I caught on to the fact that human curation of digital content is an even higher priority. Machines, just like with language, can do good things but not quite yet, “humanly” things.

    I’m going to look up that book – never heard of it! I always thought I’d end up like Canetti’s protaganist in Auto Da Fe – dying under piles of books I’ve collected. Now with digital, don’t have to worry!

  3. Frank says:

    David,

    Thanks so much for your extraordinary curator skills and determination. As you noted, things shift and come and go on the Web. And, it really takes nurturing to organize and preserve everything. I was doing my best to take care of META, Mexico English Teachers’ Association, on a Ning platform. When Ning decided to change their business plan to a for-pay model everything started going downhill fast. I got funding from Pearson to keep the site going, but 700 members were dumped in the process. Then I migrated to another free service that then wanted money later, and well you get the picture. So, I really admire someone that can keep something alive that is so important to educators and learners. I’m sure it hasn’t always been easy, but a curators love, such as yours, will prevail. Thanks — Frank

  4. ddeubel says:

    Frank,

    Thanks for the comment and background. Don’t get me started about Ning and how they handled everything. Really, they should have grandfathered all those like you and I who supported their growth/foundation. Just a money grab it was.

    Pity your work didn’t continue in that same vein. You were much better at the technical/display/communicative end then myself. My strength was on the material/content. As you note – in some respects its a bit about being stubborn.

    I’m trying to get members to support “personal curation” through a supporters fee but doesn’t look like I’ll be successful and be run out by the free printouts and FB / Twitter stuff. I’ll open the community as public though and give that a try (more traffic) + make supporter fees mandatory. Just a reality to cover the costs but even more so – that social curation is seen for the value it actually is. Let’s see…. Someone needs to keep the big publishers at bay, now given their new found interest in the $$ that social media/online can bring.

    David

  5. Thanks for your proud declaration on curation! Also totally agree about the importance of preservation and the differentiation of curation from aggregation. But, I dont see Storify as a mechanical tool, it is more of a storytelling tool. This story for instance, ”Man track stolen laptop hundreds of miles away, calls chief”, really needs, and do have, a human touch☺! Using Storify. http://storify.com/btballenger/man-tracks-stolen-laptop-thousands-of-miles-away?awesm=awe.sm_5J91H&utm_content=tweetdeck&utm_medium=awe.sm-twitter&utm_source=direct-awe.sm

  6. ddeubel says:

    Morten,

    Point taken about storify, it is a kind of “blend”. I followed that same story too and it is a good example of the power of this type of community curation. For education, we got to ask ourselves how to harness this new ability to catalog information/stories…. thanks for dropping in.

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