Curation Favors the Connected Mind

Update:  I am ramping up for the fall semester and I find that this post from August 2014 is an apt one for me to review.  Maybe you, too?

Photo by SparkCBC (https://www.flickr.com/photos/25031050@N06/3292307605/) (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo by SparkCBC (https://www.flickr.com/photos/25031050@N06/3292307605/)
(CC BY-SA 2.0)

A very interesting and useful blog post on curation and student learning in the context of digital literacy by Ibrar Bhatt.  I have stripped out the parts that were relevant to me and commented below in an attempt to come to terms with curation in my composition classroom.

 “The term [‘curation’] has usually been employed to describe such work which is carried out in museum settings, and has now evolved to describe what is often done in digital environments and online spaces.”

I think it is interesting that we always come back to the idea of digital spaces.  Well, of course we do, but do we ever define what these spaces are?  Is it clear that digital spaces and real world spaces are distinct from each other?

“[P]ractices that people tend to do in “information thick worlds”.
I love this embodied description of information as being thick.  It is also textured and noisy and redolent with smells             and awash in movement and colorful and…tasty.  Three and four dimensional, too.  Like a drama on stage.  Tufte is trying to bridge the gap between digital and real worlds.  It is all one thick informational reality.

 “Select, edit, single out, structure, highlight, group, pair, merge, harmonize, synthesize, focus, organize, condense, reduce, boil down, choose, categorize, catalog, classify, list, abstract, scan, look into, idealize, isolate, discriminate, distinguish, screen, pigeonhole, pick over, sort, integrate, blend, inspect, filter, lump, skip, smooth, chunk, average, approximate, cluster, aggregate, outline, summarize, itemize, review, dip into, flip through, browse, glance into, leaf through, skim, refine, enumerate, glean, synopsize, winnow the wheat from the chaff, and separate the sheep from the goats.”(Tufte, 1990, 50)

Great Tufte quote re-defining curation as an ‘umbrella’ term inclusive of all the skills/verbs he exhaustively lists.  I wonder how useful it is to make the term carry so much freight.

“Anthologising older content to produce new content and creating a new experience for readers, by giving a new life (or new ‘reality’) to an older text. This is curation as a digital literacy practice.”

Ibrar Bhatt’s take on Tufte and on defining digital curation. According to Bhatt, everyday curation includes retweeting, liking, plussing, faving, storifying, patch writing. He contrasts that kind of curation with the exemplary writing of Maria Popova in her blog, Brain Pickings. What does she do that is such a model for others to follow?  She ‘re-contextualizes’ by collecting and interpreting and creating a new experience for the audience with the curated text. Bhatt then  redefines curation as the  “process of problem solving, re-assembling, re-creating, and stewardship of other people’s writing.”

Source: http://www.fastcompany.com/3018236/most-creative-people-2012/51-maria-popova
Source: http://www.fastcompany.com/3018236/most-creative-people-2012/51-maria-popova

The image above amounts to a template for curating a digital space:

  1. Find something timeless to curate.
  2. Fit it into a pattern that makes sense.
  3. Find a larger context for why this matters.
  4. Share widely.

I think this fits into Harold Jarche’s simpler seek-sense-share framework.

Why does this matter?  If curation is all that Tufte and Bhatt say it is, then why aren’t scaffolds like these being used more often for training and in learning systems?  I am using the curation tool Scoop.it to do curation with my freshman comp students.  They use Scoop.it as their introductory platform  for beginning to acquire the skills  Tufte enumerates above that are part of the academic and business spaces they will eventually live in.  I am hoping they will demonstrate why it curation matters as they seek-sense-share their way to long and short form ‘texts’ that they will be writing all semester. That will include essays, tweets, G+ community posts, blog posts, research papers, emails, plusses, favs, instagrams, zeegas, slideshares, pictures, and a massive mobile presence from their own digital spaces.  Wish me luck.

Interesting links from article and from comments:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Update:  I am ramping up for the fall semester and I find that this is an apt post for me to review.  Maybe you, too?

3 Replies to “Curation Favors the Connected Mind”

  1. Hi. I appreciate and enjoyed reading your analysis of my writing and the points you have added. Your techniques with freshman students sounds fascinating as you harness these skills of theirs and bring curation to bear on the sometimes restricted forms of curricular writing (literacy) practices – I look forward to following this and other aspects of your work.

    Best wishes

    Ibrar Bhatt

    1. No. Thank you! Inspiring post that I hope will get a wider read. Look forward to your dissertation work (bet you never thought anyone would say, did you?). I will keep you posted about where the rubber of your research and theory meets the road of my classroom.

  2. Hi Terry. Glad you pulled this out of your archive. It reinforces the value of what I’ve been trying to do for so many years even though I’ve had so little support in the process.

    I wanted to point to one of my blog articles where I’d focused on “curation” so did a search. Rather than point to one, if you do the search there are two. https://tutormentor.blogspot.com/search?q=curation

    I keep talking about finding universities who would be partners with me. One role would be for a class like yours, that repeats every year, to use my library as source material that students could draw from to create their own library, or your classroom library, with ideas focused on your city or state, or where they come from.

    I hope you’ll give it a try.

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