Tag Archives: curation

How do you curate content?

David Pogue would rightfully reprimand me for using the term “content” which he considers to be an insider’s word, meaningless to the rest of the world. He’s probably right, but content curation just sounds good because of the alliteration. There isn’t a better noun for a collection of writing, videos, text, pictures, diagrams, comments, articles, and so on that is available on the web and on paper. Or is there?

Photo courtesey L. Marie on Flickr
Photo courtesy L. Marie on Flickr

Curating is the act of collecting, preserving, and organizing. It’s usually associated with artwork, museums, education, and research institutions. Archiving is the act of collecting, preserving, and cataloging archives. So, as technical communicators, is there more value in content curating or content archiving?

From Wikipedia’s English-language definition of a Curator, I learned that “In larger institutions, the curator’s primary function is as a subject specialist, with the expectation that he or she will conduct original research on objects and guide the organization in its collecting.” In technical communication, becoming an expert quite quickly is highly valued by employers in high technology and the sciences. Original research is not usually needed by the employee, though.

There’s also a lot of interesting information in the entry for Archivists and Curators on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. After reading about archivists, I now wonder if that is the better term for what technical communicators do as they collect relevant information to help people learn how to use a software product or a particular gadget.

If part of your job is to go through customer support forums, seeking information worthy of archiving, you might be a content archivist. If moving content from WinHelp to HTML Help is part of your job, you might be preserving important artifacts – your online user assistance system. If your job is to go through community content and even create a Google Custom Search Engine for certain communities or blogs or wikis, you might be a content curator. You are building a collection that others can wander through at their leisure to learn about something.

What do you think? Curator or Archivist?

Wikislicing project gets real – introducing InfoSlicer as a Sugar Activity

Scissor-style information slicing
Scissor-style information slicing

A photo of old school remixing – printing out Wikipedia articles and recombining them. 🙂

This was a fun learning exercise as part of an IBM Extreme Blue student project creating a Sugar Activity called InfoSlicer.

Instead of using scissors, you can now slice information by downloading Wikipedia articles, editing and remixing them, and reading them online. also uploading edits to Wikipedia (Edited: woops, that was part of our use case and it should work in the future because it was designed with that extension in mind).

Under the covers it is using the Darwin Information Typing Architecture, also known as DITA (dih-tuh), a standard set of DTDs (or schemas) that allow sharing of open source transformations and an open toolkit implementation. See dita-ot.sourceforge.net for more information.

Watch a demo of the InfoSlicer Activity in action here:

This Activity was part of the Wikislice Project. We met our goal of creating custom curriculum materials from Wikipedia for OLPC but we still have work we want to do to help teachers use it.

I can hear all the librarians and teachers of the world saying together – cool!