When I say “curator”, what image comes to your mind? If you envision a lady or gentleman of significant experience, perhaps clothed in the garb of academia, or a hip artist type, you aren’t alone. Or wrong. Mostly.
But, if you partake of social networking, go look in a mirror. It’s okay, I’ll wait. Do you remember the person you saw? Good, because that person is also a curator.
One of the most powerful functions of any social media endeavor is curation. The amount of information on the net is so enormous that without some kind of filtering we could never find what we need when we need it. Thus, the leaders in social networking tools leverage the power of curation to filter content. Unlike the classic picture of the museum curator who uses his or her expertise to filter the content you see, in the social world, you choose your own curators.
Let’s look at three examples of social curation, FaceBook, Twitter and Digg.
FaceBook has the perspective of seeing posts from your friends on your wall. You choose your FaceBook “friends” based on criteria you self select. So instead of seeing the enormous influx of FaceBook posts, you get a curated view. With over 500,000 active members, each generating an average of 90 posts per month, there’s no way any person could deal with that influx. So we select the friends we see and look at their posts because they may interest us, or have a high likelihood of creating interest. FaceBook uses apps and targeted advertising through a highly curated model for content injection as well.
Twitter is curation by design. This was a design precept of founder Jack Dorsey and is continued with great focus by Ev Williams and Biz Stone today. The whole concept behind following someone is to create a filtered stream of content that may be of interest to you. This makes handling the 105M users and 600M searches per day a more personal affair.
When Kevin Rose saw Digg’s numbers start to plummet, he looked closely at the data and discovered that users were finding Digg was becoming too much of a firehose on wide spray, instead of more focused content. In an interview around the design precepts for Digg4, he shared that one of the key design elements in the revamp was to ensure that a Digg user’s first view was of Diggs from other Digg users that the viewer followed. Initial reviews of the new design have been resoundingly positive and web hit data indicates a strong upturn in Digg resonance.
All this may be fascinating, but what’s the point? The point is the coming release of Novell Pulse.
Pulse is the next generation of collaboration. As you’ve seen from announcements, press coverage, videos and other media, Pulse is more than email, more than IM, more than chat, more than co-editing. It is absolutely all those things, but I think there is a critical value proposition not yet clearly elocuted.
By bringing together different people, and different groups and by design providing incredibly agile “views” without some artificial constraint, Pulse provides the user the power to created curated streams without having to learn any code, convoluted filter statements or perform other computing gymnastics. So while I see tons of content in my Pulse stream, if I want to see only what Ken Muir has posted, including stuff he posted months ago, I just click on Ken’s avatar. I’ve performed curation without thinking about it. When I want to find something that Andy Fox or Wendy Steinle has posted, it’s equally easy. The same is true for groups. Moreover, I don’t need to be online when the post is made because Pulse retains history with transparency. I also don’t need to worry about downloading attachments to Pulse feeds for fear of not being able to find them later, because they will be where they were, and if needs be I can search for them. Search is just another form of curation.
The challenge that we all will face is not that there isn’t content, it’s that there will be more content than we can reasonably deal with. The other problem is one of authority. How can we be sure that the content creator or commenter is who we think it is? We’ve already seen the privacy and security concerns burst into flame around some of the open socials. Pulse brings identity and security to the process, so not only can we control the inbound, we can also have confidence that the source stream originator is who we think it is.
Lot’s of people who didn’t get the difference wrote the Pulse = Wave equation. They were and are wrong. Similar in concept but different in execution. As Mr. Parker once said “with great power comes great responsibility” and today only Pulse provides the 360 degree capability to exercise that power responsibly.
Until next time, peace.
CTO, Novell Americas