What do you think of when see the word “curator”? Do you imagine a librarian-ish person tending to their collection of dusty old artifacts? That’s the curator stereotype that developed awhile back. But with the rise of technology, social media tools, and the DIY culture our society has conformed to, a curator has become a lot more than that.
Although the technical definition of a curator is an overseer of a museum collection (you can even attend school to earn your degree in this field), I like to think that we’ve all become a kind of curator in our own way.
The world of social media and tools like phhhoto, Instagram, and SnapChat have provided a way for all of us to pave our own take on a collection. We produce content every single second of every single day – from writing a blog (like this one) to taking photos, adding filters and posting them on Instagram to share with an audience.
This is what makes us content creators, but where does the curation part come from? It all boils down to HOW you try to share the content you’ve produced to drive traffic (in other words, eyes) and engage passerbys in a conversation with your collection.
Here’s the best way I can put it this:
Remember back in elementary school, you had “show and tell”? You’d go to your room all excited, and look through your collection of stuff – Beanie Babies, pennies, Lisa Frank stickers, whatever childhood collection you had – and you’d select which ones to display at school. You’d talk about why you collect them and what they mean to you. But most importantly, it was how you presented your works of art. Did you line up those Beanie Babies in a straight line? Did you put all your Lisa Frank stickers on a 3-panel display?
You curated your interests into this single pile to share with people who’d appreciate your taste.
Curating, when simplified down, is just that – sharing your collection of interests and what drives you to be you. But now that they’ve found a home on the internet and social media, collections don’t have to be physical objects hung up on the walls of an institution anymore. They can exist as photographs, sounds, blogs, etc.
Even if it’s not for show, we’re curating and collecting content for our own personal interests with the help of Facebook “saves”, gadgets like Pocket & IFTTT to save out articles you like or want to read on later and Instagram “likes,” etc. Our DIY culture feeds into this creation/curation frenzy too. By constantly sharing “how-to’s,” we’ve made it feasible for others to be inspired by our interests and create their own collections with their own twist.
And thus, the tools we use to create have also become tools we use to curate.
What’s your take on what a curator is? Leave your answer in the comments below!