Curation” is a hot buzzword right now in circles of people interested in information and how it is created, organized, distributed, digested, and self-filtered.  As someone who has been and continues to be interested in the changing nature of authority, social scholarship, and helping people learn how to develop their own “information filters”, I was fascinated by this slidedeck from Steve Rubel and the accompanying article via Mashable (thank you to Steve Rosenbaum for pointing me to these resources).

While the slides and article focus on how companies and their brands can gain authority through transmedia storytelling, I think the principles highlighted in the slides and the Mashable article are more than applicable for libraries and librarians:

1.  Elevate the experts (this SO speaks to the concepts of participatory librarianship and culture!):  “Find your company’s subject-matter experts and empower them to “cultivate new ideas and engage in meaningful conversation around them,” advises Rubel.

2.  Curate to connect:  “Rubel pointed out an unprecedented opportunity for companies and individuals to gain authority and become thought leaders by being the ones who “separate art from junk for people to understand it.” Curation is just as important as creation.”

3.  Dazzle with data:  “The solution is to make data and information more visual and entertaining.”  I’ve talked extensively in the last year about libraries using more than flat statistics and your sole perspective to tell the story of library.  Think multimedia and shared voices of your patrons in giving meaning to the data you are sharing transparently with your community.

4.  Put hubs on hubs:  “Publish your company’s content, such as slideshows and white papers, on hubs like SlideShare and Scribd, so that interested parties can access it and “go deeper” when they want to.” We’re doing this already with SlideShare (but not Scribd–our district’s filter classifies Scribd as “porn”) at The Unquiet Library; I’m now thinking about other mediums for adding hubs that the staff can create in 2011-12 as well as our students, our experts in training (this principle speaks to Henry Jenkins’ identifying the scaffolding of novices in becoming experts as an essential element of participatory culture).

5.  Ask and Answer:  everyone in an organization should be able to field questions via social media, not just a few staff members.  I’m contemplating some interesting possibilities for ways libraries and schools could take this advice to heart to elevate our “brand” and authority in our community.

How do you see your library incorporating these principles of authority building ?  How might these principles help you and your library community create conversations for learning?

3 thoughts on “Ushering in the Era of “Validation”: Gaining Authority in the Age of Digital Overload

  1. Terrific commentary, Buffy. Curation is the hot buzzword, thanks in part to Steve and his brilliant book. But it is a concept that we’ll be hearing about for the next several decades. How sad it is that is it rarely discussed in schools, outside of The Unquiet Library. It is the concept on which findingDulcinea and SweetSearch were created (see Many people still don’t get that “curation” is more than recommending an occasional article that comes across your screen; it involves finding, evaluating and synthesizing a wide range of resources about a topic from around the world and across the ages that collectively convey a full understanding of it. It’s a very elegant form of “re-mixing.” As the shift towards “everyone becoming a content creator” continues, those who can curate effectively will become ever more prized.


    1. Mark, thank you so much for your thoughts—I just got the book and am hoping to jump into it with both feet this week. Thank you for that link and for your insights on curation–as always, you are so eloquent and insightful! Definitely much for us to ponder these days—thank you for helping me think through these ideas and concepts.



  2. To get my writers into the right mindset for curating the Web for a particular topic for our Web Guides, I would give them an emotional prompt. If they were writing the travel guide to New Zealand, I’d say, “imagine your 16yo brother is going there next summer by himself. He’s a bit clueless and naive. The ONLY information he’ll have about how to get by is what you include in this Web Guide.

    Imagining him as the sole audience for this guide, you: (i) will very carefully evaluate every link so every one is credible, (ii) will narrate the Guide well to provide context for each link, (iii) will organize it so it’s handy, (iv) won’t overwhelm him with redundant or extraneous info, and yet (v) will make darn sure you don’t leave out anything important.”

    This is what a curator should do.


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