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The contents of my brian

Fig. 1. A moment to reflect

This by the by was the title of a TV screenplay I submitted to the BBC – rejected otherwise you might have seen it on the box by now and I wouldn’t be sitting here.

As the round up to my final, final MA ODE module H818: The Networked Practitioner it is suggested that we prepare a timeline drawing on possible blog entries, as well as ‘appearances’ in the OpenStudio platform we’ve been using.

I’ve posted some 80 times since H818 began. I’ve posted some, I don’t know, 1000 times here since February 2010?

The surprise is to find a dozen references to H818 from 2012 and when contemplating how I got to the ideas that I delivered for H818 where these may have emerged from. This in turn takes me as far back as a visit to the Science Museum in 2010. Then all manner of things, from the launch of Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’ and attending seminars in Bristol on ‘curation’ and earliest indicators that I may take an MA in First World War studies having tried to write on the subject for … well, 22 years ago another failed TV play optioned by Tyne Tees Television called ‘That’s Nothing Compared to Passchendaele’ – which is what my late grandfather said to me while we watched the local news featuring a private in the Durham Light Infantry out in Saudi Arabia. He was 96 in 1992 and had joined the DLI in his teens in late 1915.

And all of this for my very, very, very last EMA ever.

And what did I just jot down

‘Word counts in an EMA are anathema to the culture of open education’

My first draft, I haven’t ever dared look, will run to anything between 6,000 and 12,000 words.

Talking of writing … never one to say never, I have committed to a week long ‘retreat’ with a dear friend and writing tutor. My goal is to work on … ‘The Angel of the North’ a story set in the era of the First World War about a woman who flies over the Western Front.

(Actually, I’ve just thought of that. She does fly with an RFC pilot/instructor … and in the final pages is about to set off to attempt to fly the Atlantic for the first time in the wrong direction. She does, as a couple of women did, impersonate a soldier to get herself into the Front Line …)

Oh boy. And I thought I was done with writing. Thought that getting 5,000 words finished was a challenge. It is, but the OU provides the parameters and schedules, the kick up the arse and the carrot that no other kind of writing has yet provided. Except for once.

Meanwhile I must get the kids to school, must walk the dog and must prepare for an online conference I madly volunteered to do a few weeks ago as if I didn’t have enough on … which will include sitting with a veteran of the Second World War this weekend, he was in the Polish Resistance during the Warsaw Uprising. I have a Sony Flip camera and digital sound recorder in my pocket determined to interview him as I did my grandfather …

Onwards to … more of the same I should think

p.s. yes, it is my ‘brian’ – the idea of the brain is so ridiculous.

What do you understand by the word ‘curation’? What does it mean in relation to content online?

Fig.1. Bristol Fighter at the Imperial Museum

My understanding of curation is embedded in museums – I overheard the curator of the current Superhuman exhibition at the Wellcome Foundation Museum being interviewed by Aleks Krotovski on Tuesday.

When I took a picture using my iPad a member of the museum staff  politely told me that ‘the curator asked that people did not take pictures’ (and that the curator was in part to blame as he hadn’t wanted the signage saying ‘don’t take pictures’ too prominent) – curator as stage manager and executive producer of a collection of themed objects. The term ‘object’ itself embracing stills, artefacts, video-clips and activities. You curate stuff in a space and set parameters so that an audience of visitors can get their head around what, in effect, has come the curator’s mind.

In the bizarre ways that these things happen I recall, age six at most, creating a fossil museum with ammonites found in the low rocky cliffs of Beadnell, Northumberland.

I was a curator, I brought together a themed collection of rocks, set them out in a room and invited people in – no doubt in the back of my mind imagining the glass cabinets and displays in the Hancock Museum, Newcastle.

Ian McGreggor of the British Museum with his History of the World in 100 objects is a curator – far more so than an amateur’s eclectic collection of e–stuff. Or am I being a 20th century snob? Craving for academic elitism that is fast vanishing down the plug–hole as the digtal ocean and equally digital–cloud washes and blows over everything? I search that externalised part of my own mind, an extensive blog 13 years in the writing, for what I’ve said or stumbled upon before regarding ‘curation’ and find three entries, one prompted by my intention to attend this session in Bath and feeding off a visit to the De le Warr, Bexhill and the rest from Martin Weller’s book ‘The Digital Scholar’ in which he lists curation as something universities will need to do. On Chapter 12 he has this list on publishing as:

  • Publishing
  • Research
  • Authoring
  • Submission
  • Rejection/modification
  • Publication
  • Dissemination

WHY?

  • Accepted practice
  • Academic respectability
  • Reward and tenure
  • Dissemination
  • Curation

I wonder if this following quote gives a sense of Martin Weller‘s comprehension of the term ‘curation’ as used in a Web 2.0 context:

‘If Boyer’s four main scholarly functions were research, application, integration and teaching, then I would propose that those of the digital scholar are engagement, experimentation, reflection and sharing’. Weller (2011).

On a quest to become ‘digital scholars’ or ‘thought leaders’ we should, to change one word –engage, experiment, reflect and curate’? The word, used in this, come to think of it, ought also to include ‘moderate’, even to ‘chair’ or ‘host’.

In 2002 Gilly Salmon, then a lecturer at the Open University Business School, tried to coin the terms e–tivity and e–moderator.

Perhaps then, as these things go, the digital community have not picked up on these terms – instead they have hijacked ‘curation’. We are going through a rich phase of redefining and inventing words and understandably they result in carnage and debate. Academics are guilty I feel of sometimes wanting to be the first to coin a word or use a new phrase or word in a new way because citation will mean that they are then quoted for every more. This happens in academic publishing and study, unfortunately ‘curation’ can leave you wondering about the source. Is ‘jumbling together’ the content of others from multiple sources even more questionable than turning to self–monitored wikis such as wikipedia?

Weller also says:

‘If the intention is to encourage engagement then low-quality routes may be more fruitful than seeking to produce professional broadcast material’. Weller (2011) and ‘Low quality individual items because of their obvious ease of production, can be seen as an invitation to participate’. Weller (2011)

Is curation a dirty word? Is curated content reliable? What does it mean in the corporate world?

REFERENCE

Krotovski, A (2012) The Digital Human. BBC Radio 4 (last accessed 22 October 2012)
McGreggor, I (2011) The History of the World in 100 Objects –http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/british-museum-objects/ + Neil McGreggor
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ahow/all
Salmon, G. (2002). E-tivities: the key to active only learning. Sterling, VA : Stylus Publishing Inc. ISSN 0 7494 3686 7
Salmon, G (2002) e-moderation
Stodd, J (2012) https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/creating-and-sustaining-high-performance-learning-cultures/
Sullivan, A (2000-2012) The Daily Beast
Weller, M (2011) The Digital Human. More from Martin Weller in his blog: http://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/Wijekumar, K. J., Meyer, B. J. F., Wagoner, D., & Ferguson, L. (2006). Technology affordances:  The “real story” in research with K-12 and undergraduate learners. British Journal of  Educational Technology, 37(2), 191-209.

What is curation in our Web 2.0 world?



Fig.1. Apples from the Barton Orchard

First of all understand the derivation of curation from the Italian and pick not ‘caring’ for, as in caring in the medical sense for a person, but ‘curato’ – the cared for. Curation used to require a critical process – a curator in the critical sense, would decide at an intellectual level what a theme or a journey should be. Curation is also a process, a collection of choices and acts.

How does curation of art, or of artefacts in a museum compare to the way we have hijacked the term to describe what is done online where someone (are they ever a team?) make choices regarding the aggregation of content on a theme, with an audience or users in mind. At what point does this curation become marketing, or editing or re-blogging rather than this intellectual act where the value you add are the choices you make about what to put in and what to leave out?

And surely curation is diluted even further if a clever piece of software, because of feeds you suggest, words you put in or boxes you tick comes up with the content for you?

Wikipedia Definition : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curator

Digital Curation : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_curation

Why is curation online so different to curation in a museum?

20121026-204833.jpg
Fig. 1 The curator and team behind ‘Digital Memory’ at the Design Museum

This is what curation means to me – a team working collaboratively to meet a brief – here to interpret ‘digital memory’ with sponsorship and a bag of crystals from Swarovski.

Ironically the curator for this gallery achieves what auto-curation tools can never do online – collaborate. While it is likely that it is the curated content online that is forvever changing while the stuff in the gallery is fixed.


Fig.2. Is this what a memory looks like?

Fig.3. Or does memory look like this? Unfamiliar Mass by Hye-Yeon Park

Fig.4. Or this? Hardcoded Memory by Troika

Fig.5. Or even this? Thought Cloud by Marten Baas

Collector is another word for it – weren’t the first ‘collections’ just that? Indulgent, expensive and showing off. And were they a curator or collector if they hoarded animal heads, bird’s eggs or insects? In fact, des the curation start the day a professional steps in and to warrant sponsorship or a grant to put someof this stuff on display?

What are the pros and cons of curating content or following someone’s choices? Do you curate?

20121020-054003.jpg

Sam Burroughs spoke at the Wee Learning evening in Bath on Thursday.

http://weelearning.co.uk/events/wee-6-5-bath/

It turns out that I have been playing this curation game for some time, that it is nuanced aggregation of content – go public with it on a consistent theme are you are blding your own audience, serving a purpose by pulling in content that you rate. A simple list of links is a start, the next step is to use an RSS feed to have content patchedin regularly or to use an aggregator that assembles the content for you as it it uploaded. You get your own daily paper as it were in some instances. Start doing this for colleagues and you find yourself curating a learning and news resource.

Sam Burroughs represents thousands of learners in the commercial secotor when it comes to continual professional development his drive is to get internal learners to have their a personal development plan and to seek out pertinent courses and content for themselves rather than waiting for and relying on a course list. As well as self–development reading and curating content themselves will make them more connected in and out of the company as well as gaining a better understanding of the technology. – so looking for relative content to solve their problems that they can share or make available to others.

Sam introduced Beth Kanter, Robin Good and Howard Rheingold.

Beth Kanter
Seak, Sense, Share – take the pain out of finding content.
http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/

Robin Good – master curator
http://www.scoop.it/t/digital-revolution-leaderboard

Robin Good on curation
Published on11 Jun 2011byHoward Rheingold

In interview Robin Good, that master of new media (http://masternewmedia.org) about curation — what it is, what it requires, why it’s important, how to do it.

Robin thinks of Google as Macdonalds, whereas the curator runs a bespoke restaurant. He talks about curation as ‘sense making’ not just links. That curation helps people to learn better and faster from people they know or respect.

He describes curation as ‘curiosity’ – something done with passion and antennaes. As any publisher or author would do, he stresses the need to Know the audience, not simply the artists.
He atresses also the need for transparench, to correctly add citations and links to the content you pull in.

Robin Good on curation
Published on 11 Jun 2011 by Howard Rheingold

In interview Robin Good, that master of new media (http://masternewmedia.org) about curation — what it is, what it requires, why it’s important, how to do it.

Howard Rheingold
http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=o1IeOzIoRDs&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Do1IeOzIoRDs&gl=GB
see video for shaf he thinks curation is a DJ … when did I coin the phrase BJ.

Are the following curators, journalists, academics or publishers?

Names I would mention include:

Hugo Dixon
Andrew Sullivan
Martin Weller

Hugo Dixon established Breaking Views in 1999, got ahead of Reuters by providing institutions, for a subscrtion, with opinion on busienss news as it occured – after 8 years Reutersbought him out.

Andrew Sullivan blogs five or more times a day, some of this pulls in content from elsewhere, more is original journalism. They are a team of five at The Daily Beast getting 1 million views a month, financed by online advertising. Publisheror curator, it strikes me that a curator does it for the loveof the subject – the ‘objects’ in their collection.

The Edtechie is the blog from the author of the Digital Scholar, Martin Weller – He has over 3,000 followers. As an academic does he curate his own publications and ideas? Or does that make him a specialist librarian?

Sam likes the idea that you ’learn for myself’, and how it started with blogs then moved onto tools such as Delicious, the Digo +tag, organise with key words and RSS feeds.

There are various RSS aggregators.

Sam has come across 250 curation tools. How do you know which are the best? You give them a whirl or ask others what they think. Some to try include:

ScoopIt
Pinterest
PearlTree
ReddIt
DigIt

What tools for curating content can you recommend?

Where does curation sit in e-learning?

Where does curation sit in all of this?

Whilst blogging implies creating content or self-publishing, curation is aggregating content by one person for others – going out with a broom to sweep autumn leaves into a pile then picking out the russet red ones. It isn’t publishing either, these leaves are literally individual pages, not entire books, and they are, in the parlance ‘bite–sized’ pieces of information.

At what point does it cease to be curation?

The London Underground Lost Property Office is not a curated space – this stuff has been pushed into the space, not pulled. Push or pull are key words when it comes to curation, especially where the curation is prompted by the desire to respond to a problem – such as engaging people to take responsibility for their own learning by providing them with a space with blurred boundaries that will contain, more often than not, objects that satisfy and pique their cursory in order that they then go on to construct their own understanding.

As the Radio ‘The Museum of Curiosity’ indicates we can curate some mighty odd things

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00k3wvk

Online, comments left by people become objects in this curated space – these are ‘items’. They have a permanence, not only that, whether or not attributed, they can be shared, duplicated and reversioned. Whilst you curate them in spaces you control, what happens once the item has been shared on? It may no longer be in such an attractive space at all?

My teenagers curate images on Tumblr, a tumbling riot of choice images grabbed and reblogged into a visual expression of who they aspire to be, or who they are or the people they want to attract.


Fig.1. Head in the clouds

My teenagers curate images on Tumblr, a tumbling riot of choice images grabbed and reblogged into a visual expression of who they aspire to be, or who they are or the people they want to attract.

The museum of the person, for the person rather than a museum by a person for the people.

Perhaps this is the answer – blurring the boundaries between blog, gallery, library and museum we each become the curators of the external expression of the contents of our minds forming in total a waterfall of information and ideas. As a reader, visitor or learner you are the fish swimming in this river, dipping in and out and through it. The space is an interplay between what others contribute and what you elect to tangle with.

Curation is more than aggregating stuff, there is a sense of purpose, a theme, even if it is a current in this river, this torrent, this deluge of information – the content is gathered, and presented in a certain way.

Someone has made choices on the visitor’s behalf. The collection is assembled for a purpose, to change minds, to open heads, to instigate a journey, to act as a catalyst for learning and and the creation of understanding.

Whilst blogging implies creating content or self-publishing, curation is aggregating content by one person for others – going out with a broom to sweep autumn leaves into a pile then picking out the russet red ones. It isn’t publishing either, these leaves are literally individual pages, not entire books, they are, in the parlance ‘bite–sized’ pieces of information.

At what point does it cease to be curation?

The London Underground Lost Property Office is not a curated space – this stuff has been pushed into the space, not pulled. Push or pull are key words when it comes to curation, especially where the curation is prompted by the desire to respond to a problem – such as engaging people to take responsibility for their own learning by providing them with a space with blurred boundaries that will contain, more often than not, objects that satisfy and pique their curiosity in order that they then go on to construct their own understanding.

The curator doesn’t orginating content then?

Tell that to … a History of the World in 100 objects.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/british-museum-objects/

Neil McGreggor
http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ahow/all

Presenter
Curator
Trustee
Visitor
Scholar


Fig.2. An online diary or journal

Over a decade ago, to some a web log and now a blog can embrace curation – 195 posts on blogging and my favourite definition is ‘digital paper‘ – a blog is anything you can do with it.

Curation is perhaps therefore, a digital museum, library or gallery?

By defintion less self–publishing, and more aggregation of the works of others.

 

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