Over the past few years Robert Scoble has been pondering one of the largest structural problems the Internet is facing: too much data and too few ways to make sense of it.
No matter where you go for news, humor, reviews, advice – Twitter, LifeHacker, TheNextWeb – any type of information or entertainment, you will eventually feel overwhelmed as the sites you follow begin to add content faster than you can process it. More than 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. Scoble has voiced their solutions to the Internet overload: curation.
The concept of a curator isn’t new one, the most obvious example is that of the museum curator, or director. A curator is an expert who brings order to chaos, keeps the theme on track and is the voice who can provide guidance in a particular field.
In his call for curation, Scoble lists seven needs curators can address in the ever-expanding world of the real-time web. He suggests “we can build ‘info molecules’ that have a lot more value than the atomic world we live in now” explaining that “[a] tweet is an atom. A photo on Flickr is an atom” as are videos on YouTube or Facebook status updates. Twitter itself meets the barebones of the curation ideal in that the user chooses who to follow and can mark tweets with the “favorite” function to signal something especially important, interesting or valid. One clever person created a Scoblefaves account on Twitter that exists only to publish tweets Scoble himself favorites. This is a somewhat limited solution because there isn’t an easy way to follow people’s favorites and even then any two people may have the same taste in music but completely different opinions on movies or technology. To put it simply: you don’t want all your information from one generic source but from experts in each field.
In their big coming out party at this week Storify makes curating and creating stories a breeze. Designed like a modern blogging platform with a WYSIWYG interface, Storify presents all five building blocks of the story you are creating front and center. The three boxes at the top are title, summary, and a picture. The picture selection box is automatically populated with pictures from the content you add to the story. You don’t need to worry about finding an uploading a picture or resizing it – the pictures are there ready for you to choose.
The main event is in the lower three quarters of the screen: the elements box on the left and the story box on the right. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Google, RSS and bookmarks (custom links) comprise the story creation palette. When you choose a source, the palette becomes customized to that selection. For instance, the common Twitter options are available – your timeline, search, favorites, users and lists – all of which let you pick just the right content to add to your story. Similarly you can search for YouTube videos by account or search for Google Images or Google News. All that’s left is simply selecting the source you want to input from and dragging it over to the right to add the element to your curated work.
Publishing the story is where Storify really shines, in addition to tweeting out a link to your post, you can also automatically message the people you have quoted. This creates an instant network effect and lets each content creator know that his or her work is being used as part of the compilation. When the link to the Storify page is visited each source you included in the post is visible.
As we look toward more real-time authoring and arranging it is important to remember that we are all content creators, not just in the classical definition as artists but also as individuals with areas of interest and expertise. Football fans will naturally be following other football fans, players and media discussing the sport, so they will already combing the news for up to date information or discussion. The same is true for politics, technology, and music.