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?

Following Your Curious Nose: the Inside Story of the Microbiome

I am always looking for research projects.  In the fall I teach courses that asks my entering freshmen to follow their own noses and search for answers to questions that they are passionate about.  I use Ken Macrorie’s model for this.  It’s called an “I-Search”.  I always do a parallel I-Search along with them.  Here is my site where I gathered answers to my I-Search question: How can I help students focus their attention in the classroom and out?

 Come the spring I will be teaching a junior level research course called “Writing Across the Disciplines” and I will choose a research question to parallels theirs. The microbiome might be a good topic although I am tempted to look into the new gene slicing technique called “CRISPR” as well.  I always have several projects going at once.  I often will drop a question for awhile but come back to it later.  Curation tools like Scoop.It are terrifically handy for seeking out and sharing “signal”.  I believe that we all need at least one digital curation tool in our repertoire. is a good one.  The free version lets you pursue one topic. Here are a few more curation tools at this site.


TrailBlazing: Rhizomatic Practice


I have been experimenting with the idea of ‘feedforward’ in my work here in #Rhizo15. In a guided journaling exercise I shared with some folks (and I am still sifting through your responses) I discovered a few ideas that I wanted to explore further.

Below is a Hackpad page that describes one of them,  a ‘feedforward’, rhizomatic practice called prototyping.  This is where I prototyped one of several ‘fastforwardings” or imagined futures.

Now that you know the ‘future’, let me move to the second part of the post where I guide it into being. I have been playing quite a bit with what amounts to a creative substitute for my beloved Zeegas–PopcornMaker by Mozilla. It is a little less intuitive than Zeega, but it is capable of much greater control and complexity than Zeega. If Zeega was a ‘low bar to entry tool’ then PopcornMaker is the next level. How do these two ideas (the scout bee in my Hackpad and the multimedia tool, PopcornMaker) come together? Simple: I use the media tool as the vehicle for my scout report.

Below you will see the first of what I hope are many “scout reports” about the practice of rhizomatic learning and teaching. I am creating a map where the hive can find food or as Deleuze and Guattari say,

…the rhizome pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed, a map that is always detachable, connectible, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entryways and exits and its own lines of flight. (Deleuze and Guattari 1987, 21)

This is a waggle dance. I am just pointing to the food source, the practice is up to you.  I am giving you a sense of direction but you have file your own line of flight.

I think that rhizomatic learning and teaching has something to do with creating embeddable spaces.  For personal learning this means embedding ourselves in these spaces (internships, mentorings, cMOOCs, informal/adhoc situations) as well as internalizing the most handy of them. For teaching it means creating both simple and complex practices  for our friends that are similar to the ones we learn within. All the better for them to join us later. Embedded and embodied cognition are at the heart of my understanding of this.  We learn in our own hearts and then we invite others in as well.

I will be scout bee for this flight.  The hive is swarming and always moving.  The queen lives within but the rhizo declares she is both core and whole, intermezzo and margin.  Join with me.