Reading Steve Rosenbaum’s 4 Promising Curation Tools That Help Make Sense of the Web helped confirm a sneaking suspicion – curation will be the next web revolution. If Web 1.0 was about online access and Web 2.0 is about social nets Web 3.0 will be coring down to content that really matters. We don’t go back to the halcyon days of newspaper editors making decisions about what we need to know, but we will employ new tools to organize, search, sort and query the living organic thing that is the web.
The web is beyond elastic. The web, like artist Jonathan Brofosky, is counting to infinity. Amazon has over 400,000,000 pages in Google. The strange alchemy that is search engine marketing (SEM) means pages that cost pennies to create often return dollars. You don’t have to be an investment banker to understand the web’s positive return-on-investment. Amazon is on its way to a billion pages begging the question, “How do you create a billion web pages?”
Can’t answer this question in the old way. This content creation journey doesn’t proceed one step at a time. This journey requires steps taken every second of every day all over the world by an army of people, by an empowered and zealous crowd. Amazon’s need for more content on top of more content reminds me of a conversation with Bazaar Voice’s management team about reviews. “Why,” I asked, “does someone write the 300th review of a widget?” After 299 reviews there is little new information to share in the 300th review so I was confused about why someone would take time to add something already covered by twenty or a hundred other reviews.
“Reviewers join a tribe at least as much as they contribute product information,” explained my Bazaar Voice contact. Yes, I remember thinking as Faith Popcorn’s, “People don’t buy brands they join them,” quote flashed like large cue cards. We want to gather near the fire on a cold winter’s night, extend our palms, rub our shoulders and feel what it means to be in this place and time together.
The 300th review and Amazon’s quest to reach a billion web pages brings a problem. As we gather huddled against a winter night’s cold we process and parse information quickly, intuitively and with practiced predictable paths. We know what fire is. We sense our friends and pull our coats up against the cold. Now imagine a million people huddled on a small field looking for a winter night’s fire. Moving our mental model from a few friends passing a jug to a million campers makes the scene unreasonably hectic. We can’t organize all the information headed in our direction.
So one of the problems with the cult of the amateur and democratization of content creation tools is an unbelievable shit storm of content headed across the prairie taking aim at our houses, brains and limited attention spans. Think you are overwhelmed now just wait until you act as curator of every piece of culture you consume. I’ve seen tornadoes roar up on dusty Texas plains. I’ve run from a black storm’s vengeance, furry and terror. No Texas tornado has anything over the content storm heading at each and every one of us.
The good news is content is being created by new wizards at an increasingly fast rate. The bad news is content is being created by new wizards at an increasingly fast rate. Curation, the process of separating content wheat from chafe, will be the next web revolution. We are too idiosyncratically individual to care much what our fellow lemmings are doing. We will demand curation tools that wrap the web around us like comfortable blankets. We will place our arms through our snuggly’s holes and pull the “blanket with arms” tight against our chest like armor.
The next web revolution will be a “less is more” revolution since our love of bulk will cave our fragile shoulders under a load even the most sturdy sherpa couldn’t bear. We will employ new “less is more” tools to cut down the storm’s size, furry and toll. We will grow comfortable with a million fellow travelers huddled next to an electronic fire spitting warmth, culture and fart jokes. We will curate our lives like the fine art every moment is and should be. Curation is the next web revolution.
Read Curation The Next Web Revolution II on Technorati.
Tornado Photo (c) Jmos Flickr