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 ( (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Photo by SparkCBC (
(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.”


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 to do curation with my freshman comp students.  They use 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?

Jess Wade’s Quest Can Be Anyone’s Quest

Academic writes 270 Wikipedia pages in a year to get female scientists noticed

Jess Wade is a scientist on a mission. She wants every woman who has achieved something impressive in science to get the prominence and recognition they deserve – starting with a Wikipedia entry. “I’ve done about 270 in the past year,” says Wade, a postdoctoral researcher in the field of plastic electronics at Imperial College London’s Blackett Laboratory.


Yowsah. 270. I have tried four separate times to submit a new article in Wikipedia and have failed. What’s her secret?

– choose topics from your own personal experience
– let your passions be your guide
– find analogous spaces someone else is doing and model that.
– Champion a book.
– Get local then go global.

Here are some additional suggestions I found in other articles:

-Run a wikithon.
-Scroll through Twitter.

Here is a quote of interest where she models part of her process:

The Twitter account @blackphysicists has helped me find heaps of African-American scientists who are wiki-worthy. Then I spend a couple of hours searching for impartial sources—citations written when they’ve won an award, news reports about their research, announcements when they receive promotion. There are heaps of newspapers archived online for free, which helps, especially when trying to work out women’s maiden names. I love when I can find where they went to school, what their parents did and who inspires them—that sounds weird I know—I think it helps readers understand that scientists are just normal people who found something they love.

Lastly, here is a gathering of links that I filched from the net using Zotero and Dropbox.  If you don’t like all the text just follow the hyperlinks out and about.


What Is This Stuff Good For?

I ran across this interesting lit course in a blog post:  100 MUST READS OF MAGICAL REALISM by 

I think what they are trying to do is generate Amazon affiliate revenue.  Considering how much work went into producing this I don’t blame them a bit.

I was just messing around to see where the exploration might lead, a random feldgang.

First, I pulled all the links off of the page using Linkgrabber.

Second, I pasted the links into Dropbox Papers because it is handy as a collaborative space.  It also has added two elements that are handy if you wanted to do group work: each bulleted item can be given a due date as well as assigned to someone via email or name (if they are dropbox paper users). There is also a comment function as well that allows for threaded discussion and ‘resolution’ of issues.

Third, I edited out the links that were irrelevant and then added ‘to-so’ checkboxes to each book.

Fourth, since Papers doesn’t create an embed, I had to go Google Drive to create a doc where I could copy and past the Papers document content into a Google Doc.  I did that just so I could create an embed.

Fifth, I created a post here in WordPress and copied the Google Doc embed code here
to share.

So…why did I just lay down this list of breadcrumbs?  I like to practice using tools just in case something new breaks loose.  For example, I didn’t realize that Papers had those two new tools.  Nor did I realize that it had not carried over Hackpad’s embed feature when they created Papers.

Here is a version I put on Cryptpad just because I wanted to explore a bit.  And it allows for blockchain encryption, too.

Here is a version I put on etherpad clone,

So…what for?

  1. Exploring. Isn’t that intrinsically valuable for me?  The question is whether it has value for you as well.
  2. Perhaps I could create a collaborative page with only ten of these novels and I could invite folks once a week to come talk about the book they were given to read.
  3. Perhaps doing the previous activity might lead to other collaborative ‘stuff and things’ including Google Hangout/Facebook Live ad hoc-ity.
  4. Crowdsourcing without a wiki.
  5. Other feldgangs and emergences as yet to be ascertained.

Number five sounds coolest to me.  OK, if you got this far maybe you can suggest other possibilities or perhaps tell me to stop with the hundred ways.