Curating the News

cu•rate  |ˈkyoŏˌrāt|
verb [ trans. ] (usu. be curated)
select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition) :
both exhibitions are curated by the museum’s director.
DERIVATIVES
cu•ra•tion |kyəˈrā sh ən| noun
Oxford New American Dictionary

This term has been popping up a lot lately and each time it is related to news. There is so much information being published daily that there is now a need for curation. News organizations are pulling in Twitter feeds, photos and personal blog posts to broaden their coverage of breaking news. Remember that awesome aerial photo of the Endeavour shuttle launch? Stephanie Gordon took the photo while flying to Florida and posted it to TwitPic. Just about every news organization in this country used the photo. [Many – but not all – even gave her the attribution she deserves.] Recently an enterprising young reporter for the New York Times was covering the tornadoes in Alabama. Because of the destruction, he found the only reliable way to send his reports from the scene was texting updates to Twitter. By pulling in his live feed and other on-site sources, the New York Times was able to provide real-time updates on their web site.

Closer to home, we are all curators of sorts in the collection of blogs and news sources we follow in our news reader. I know I’m not the only one who organizes Google Reader into topic folders and uses those folders to prioritize what I’m going to read first when time is short. Google Reader – and the Reeder app on my iPad – are still the best tools I’ve found to process large amounts of information quickly, but I’m now using the “star” button to save items I want to read at my leisure so I can fully enjoy them. And, since Flipboard gives me the ability to pull just my starred content into the app, I am reading those articles in an environment that gives them the design attention they deserve.

In the genea-verse, we are fortunate to have several curators pointing us to the best articles from the community each week. Their weekly posts offer links to great reads. In addition, many of us have become curators as we tweet links to articles we feel are of interest to all family historians.

Twitter never ceases to amaze me. You can create a Twitter account just to provide a custom stream of curated content. Or you can collect content using a saved search or by building a custom list of specific Twitter users. The apps that pull content from Twitter take advantage of each of these capabilities to give readers just the content they want. And, all this information is being distributed in real time – landing in your reader within minutes.

Although we have some impressive curators, we still don’t have a desktop reader providing the appropriate reading experience. Instead of just presenting the tweet’s contents, the mobile apps follow the links to the articles, photos and videos, bringing them all to us. And, not only do they present them in a very visual format, they also provide a view of the article at its original site. As someone who devotes effort to presentation as well as content, I’m thrilled to see that effort delivered to the reader and not stripped as in so many news readers.

In addition to Flipboard on the iPad, the Pulse app [iOS and Android – including NOOK Color] offers a magazine-style experience on smart phones and tablets. At this point, the best desktop experience comes from Twitter’s new web interface and the growing number of paper.li newspapers being published by members of the genealogy community. Hopefully, that will change soon.

News readers will continue to play a significant research role by processing large amounts of content quickly and efficiently, but these beautiful reading apps combined with curators pointing us to the best content allow us to relax and enjoy a delightful reading experience. All I need is a crossword puzzle and this would be my perfect alternative to the Sunday morning newspaper.

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