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How Can I Curate Content That Isn’t Common?

About a year ago, I joined Scoop.it, a web site that promised to curate for me – to pull information relevant to the topics I’m interested in from all over the Internet. It was a swell idea, except that Scoop.it doesn’t seem able to actually find that information for me.

If I was interested in Hollywood celebrities, or sports, or fashion, Scoop.it would work. There’s a huge amount of material available for subjects like that. But then, that information is already easy to find. I don’t need a curating service for that.

I am interested in less commonly covered topics, and Scoop.it doesn’t seem to know how to search for these.  Every morning, I get a Scoop.it report that tells me it’s found nothing.

I can do better with a simple search engine. Is there no better option available for topics outside of the mainstream than to simply do the curating oneself, piece by piece?

2 comments to How Can I Curate Content That Isn’t Common?

  • Bill

    There was a nice discussion regarding ‘personalized’ online news content on Bill Maher’s show (IIRC) a while back. Maher was bemoaning the passing of the plain-old newspaper and the rise of personalized news aggregators, such as Yahoo’s front page. He pointed out that personalized news tells you what you want to know about what’s happening in the world, whereas newspapers told you what you should know. Reading a newspaper there was always a good chance that you’d stumble upon something completely outside your awareness that might broaden your horizons. I can still recall the first time, as a tween, I read about U.S. troops killing and dying in someplace called Vietnam. “Wait, what???” That one little below-the-fold article changed the course of my life. With personalized content, that doesn’t happen so much…you only learn more about what you already know. A little personalization is a handy tool, but too much contributes to the functional autistification of us all, making the internet…and society…ever more of an echo chamber, telling us what we want to hear instead of what we need to know. So perhaps we should be thankful that Scoop.it doesn’t actually work for thoughtful people such as yourself.

  • J Clifford

    Bill, that critique fits for information in the arena of stuff-in-general-we-ought-to-know-but-can’t predict. It’s important for us to remain open to new information from unexpected directions, to challenge our presumptions.

    That’s not my goal with curated information, however. My goal is to explore particular areas of knowledge as they develop – not to justify an ideological position, but to learn more detail or to follow a particular topic over time.

    In politics, curated content ought to be able to enable us to follow developments with a certain category of legislation. One of the problems, though, is that there isn’t enough journalistic coverage of legislation – just a surface skim.

    More generally, there are opportunities with the Internet to discover new dimensions of ideas that just aren’t covered in self-interested, awkward academic discussions or in brief journalistic notice.

    I reject the idea that setting up customized reviews of information is automatically something we ought to avoid. We need to go far beyond the depth of Yahoo News, into more sources with more details, rather than stumbling back to the days when a few powerful editors controlled what everyone else could have the privilege of knowing.

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