- The act of curating, of organizing and maintaining a collection of artworks or artifacts.
15 years ago we had galleries and books. Now we have twitter, facebook, blogs, tumblrs, and Instagram; more places to post our art than we may ever manage in a lifetime. We also have the share button. Never again will we ever be short of options on how to pass on the cool and useful stuff we find in life.
So we share, reblog, retweet, pass on and on and on we go. We follow people online that we know and that we don’t know. We may follow them for a variety of reasons: they’re interesting, we like them, we don’t like them but they share things that matter to us.
Through all of this we’ve got savvier at understanding our online voice and what people are interested in following us for. I can tell you that when I post about social issues they will be commented on and shared almost as much as cute kitten videos. When I post about rock and roll, not so much happens.
On platforms that enable and encourage multi-purpose conversation we make judgments about how following someone and what they post is relevant to us. We revel in finding that one twitter person who also has a bizarrely nerdy love of pens and talks about them in detail, posts found photos of terrible graffiti and has in-depth knowledge of motorbikes. Well, maybe that’s just me. But we value people who have similar and possibly more knowledge on the things that interest us, especially if the share them in ways that are funny and insightful and engaging.
With the rapid acceleration of social posting and sharing, the art of curation is no longer restricted to galleries, museums and research collections.
Cowbird provides with the means to create collections of stories written by others.
Curator as Cultural Definer
Curator as definer in popular culture is also taking on greater meaning. Maria Popova of Brainpickings is one of these ‘celebrity’ online curators. Celebrity is a strange word to define someone who works at home, is a nerd for information, and would likely never be recognized outside her front door. But she is well known for her online curation work, with over 436K followers on twitter and write ups in the New York Times. Brainpickings was included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive in 2012.
Maria’s ability to weave together beautiful ruminations on creative and philosophical visionaries and their role in society has made her notorious. She brings books, art, and ideas to life and makes them accessible and relevant in a down to earth way that only a master curator can.
Curation Can Easily Be Innovation
Innovation need not necessarily involve brand new ideas. It can be simply bringing ideas from one sphere or domain of expertise and applying them to another. Curation of artifacts online–to-online or real world-to-online are examples.
What Holds Mental Health Content Curation Back?
I’m curious as to why mental health as a sphere has been slower to adopt some of the onlineism’s that other areas have picked up more readily. I was around at the very beginning of digital mental health and been involved right through to it’s verge into mainstreaming (of course I have some caveats on what exactly defines the mental health mainstream, but that’s probably a post for another day).
I think it’s time for mental health to innovate by adopting the online cultures that are becoming our defining norms for how we share, disseminate and build knowledge and networks.
I think it’s time for mental health to get its curation on.