Curation – it’s shit

I could have written 5h1t: I could have been more subtle; I could have tried to be more consensual; but that must be lacking in my DNA ;). But in the end by using S-word, I am ultimately being very mild-mannered compared with what I think deep down.
Curation here, curation there. You really wonder if people are speaking through their noses or even from the bottom of a place where the said substance rightly ends up.
I won’t use the word again. It’s ugly enough in French and I don’t even want to think about where it came from in English…Let’s not judge a book by its cover; let’s see what it has beneath the flyleaf…
Because it’s the bottom in which you’re interested, you the bold reader who will have jumped on this vile and eye-catching title, given that you read things properly.
Therefore let’s continue with what’s eye-catching by giving in to that obsession known as counting. I am consequently going to list 5 reasons mean that curation is revoltingly bad, in my view at any rate.

 

1) Curation platforms and the action of curating in itself contribute nothing

To curate (or to pick out in fact… I don’t know…), what is it? It’s to subscribe to sources of information, read blogs, websites and to choose extracts and content that you will be aggregating in one and the same space.

The action of curating is one that has a very, very, very low added value!.  The proof of this is: it could be fully automated… Selection and enhancement of sources by automated keywords, selection of extracts by contextual keywords and publication. Everything can be done by a machine.

Now you white knights of curation are certainly going to respond that the automated operation is never as relevant as the human one, that what is attractive is this relevant bespoke selection, and these possibilities for subscribing to another’s content; but let’s look reality in the eye. This is not so. And even if it were so, other devices and other solutions that can do that have already existed for many months, if not years, and in my opinion they can do it better…
I have ultimately not managed to find one ounce of added value in curation.

Curation is a content copy and paste system for layabouts, which leads me straight on to point number 2.

 

2) Curation represents an infringement of copyright

Curation is the taking content from one place and putting it in another. Nothing else. Let’s remember this now – taking content without having permission to do so is an infringement of copyright. Only the right of quotation can be applied, but the latter is subject to a specific procedure which is never observed on curation platforms.
Curation platforms do admittedly also enable the composition of content and the summarising of an article, BUT nobody does it as it’s so simple to copy and redistribute and not to create.

Many people are guilty of that:

  • Internet users who redistribute content and infringe intellectual property, the majority of whom in their defence are not in business and don’t make any money, but are only trying to be noticed.Disgraceful, but from the moment that you copy original content from a blog, you nevertheless risk very little if the blog is not a trade blog, since in most instances French justice requires compensation on the basis of the loss incurred.
  • Companies who provide the solution and who are paid on an advertising model. Of course, they’re not arms dealers who are making a killing. To repeat the debatable metaphor of an internet monitoring software vendor, the photocopier salesman doesn’t make unauthorised copies of course … but in this present case and even in spite of the clearance procedure linked to hosting activities, it is obvious that the business model of the curation platforms is based on the monetisation of copyright infringement and is therefore disgraceful and reprehensible.

Additional reading: Blogger and author: where are the rights? [FR] which addressed the issues of copyright and Creative Commons licensing fairly broadly.

3) Curation platforms encourage economic freeloading 

Some curation platforms go much further than a tweet which links directly to the original content. Some curation platforms offer the “share” functionality for redistribution on various social networks by linking to the curation platform hosting the content rather than to the original article. It is therefore a harnessing of potential traffic and, as a result, economic freeloading.
What is more, it distances the reader from the author (in quite banal terms of clicks, but also therefore of identification).
Finally, rather than encouraging the exposure of the original content via social sharing mechanisms, the curation platforms encourage their own visibility by offering a specific URL for the copied content whilst maintaining its fine detail (by this I mean that it doesn’t point towards a curator’s account but to the post- based content. Example here.

4) For us, the children of the web, encouraging curation is being irresponsible

Curation does not encourage the accessibility of content. Definitely not. The social mechanisms integrated in the majority of curation platforms are as insubstantial as the elastic on a thong… and what’s more, even here they rely on other social network solutions that have built and and invented mechanisms for the online management of social relationships, which are relatively complete if not innovative.
While Google is juggling to maintain the quality of its results, we should ask ourselves if the extent to which all these mechanisms we are feeding is helping to make the information that we’re looking for inaccessible.
Instead of looking for excuses by saying, “Yes, but there is already too much information, we need to conduct a sectorial analysis of the web by social cluster so as to have easier access to it”, we need to realise

instead that we’re busy treating the plague with a strain of cholera.
Finally, I find it amazing today to come across information professionals who have at times campaigned for sharing creative works in the form of CCommons licensing and are not even worried about knowing (for certain) whether or not they are infringing Ccommons.

5) Curation is drowning the information

We are in a phase of infobesity. No, it’s not an illusion. And no, it has never been so intense. It’s all well and good to record emails received, requests for information and the size of our hard drives. The tools enabling information processing are admittedly improving, but there are delays in their deployment, it takes time to get to know them and they’re not developing as quickly as the growth of information.
In addition, the world in which we are living is finite. The hard disks we produce and the energy we use for storing this information: all of that requires real resources in terms of goods, raw materials, energy; and unfortunately information is tending to achieve rates of growth today whose graph is approaching a vertical line and runs counter to the finite world in which we are living.
To encourage the use of solutions that contribute nothing to information management and take advantage of information technology to increase the amount of information to infinity is to be guilty of leading to the collapse of a system which is based on an operation verging on the worst practices of the financial sector.

In addition, I hope the business angels won’t be taken in by it and won’t encourage businesses whose business model is based on very unsound ground as far as I’m concerned.

Au lieu de se chercher des excuses en disant : “oui mais il y a déjà trop d’information, il faut passer par une segmentation du web par grappe sociale pour y avoir plus facilement accès” il faudrait plutôt se dire que nous sommes en train de soigner la peste avec une souche de choléra.

Finalement aujourd’hui je trouve surprenant de trouver des professionnels de l’information qui ont parfois milité pour le partage de la création sous forme de licence CCommon et ne se préoccupent même plus de savoir (pour certains) s’ils n’enfreignent pas les CCommons.

Conclusion

Today it seems to me to be vital to revert to a saner and more reasoned model for sharing information.
Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves what we are contributing by redistributing information. I think that if we have nothing interesting to say or post, it would in any event be better to refrain from redistributing content in the form that the curation platforms offer by default.
To continuer along this path, to despoil the content of authors who give of their time, to steal their traffic is to impoverish that which adds vibrancy to a Web, the authors, some of whom are unpaid.

PS: for those who’d like to accuse me of taking part in this movement, I’ll admit: I tested Scoop.it and paper.li and since publication of this post I am going to delete those accounts. You need to know what you’re talking about.
In addition, I believe I am trying to contribute in my way to the creation of value on the Web and if I assess this by the discussions of the last few days, I tell myself that it’s a course of action from which I should not stray because richness, comment and participation encourage enrichment, sharing and creation. This is of course not true of curation.

Photo credit: http://tribulations-lambda.over-blog.com/article-5454220.html (well, let’s say I found
the photo there…)

 

3 Responses to “Curation – it’s shit”

  1. Agnes 26 April 2012 at 6 h 57 min #

    So true, I can’t agree more on this subject. I’ve never found an inch of interest, relevant and above all added-value content on the topics I’ve tried through these curation websites!

  2. Frédéric Martinet 26 April 2012 at 7 h 04 min #

    Hello Agnès,
    I hope you are fine. Thanks a lot for your comment and for giving your opinion. Curation is quite an hot topic and I hope these types of posts will engage the conversation for a better curation practice… Even if I’m not so confident…

    And another thank to you because you are the first one to comment on my new english version website !!!!

    Hope we’ll meet again soon.

  3. Lucienne Laporte 28 April 2012 at 3 h 49 min #

    Thank you for a smart and entertaining article. It’s copyright infringement, not curation. Besides, curators curate originals for posterity, not photocopies and scrapbooks.

Leave a Reply to Agnes