One of the interesting discussions at yesterday’s focus group meeting at Ruralnet was around the idea that by aggregating all the content that’s out there on rural issues, Ruralnet might end up overloading people with information. In other words, no matter how well tagged and categorised content is, an awful lot of people just don’t have the skills or the experience to deal with a huge amount of information.
What sort of skills are required? Some are:
- The ability to scan web pages and articles to check for relevance/interest
- The use of RSS to subscribe to content you are interested in
- Using tags to further break down content to identify the stuff you really want
- Using tools like social bookmarking to clip content to read/use later
Steve Rubel has written an interesting post today, entitled ‘The Digital Curator in Your Future‘:
The call of the curator requires people who are selfless and willing to act as sherpas and guides. They’re identifiable subject matter experts who dive through mountains of digital information and distill it down to its most relevant, essential parts. Digital Curators are the future of online content. Brands, media companies and dedicated individuals can all become curators. Further, they don’t even need to create their own content, just as a museum curator rarely hangs his/her own work next to a Da Vinci. They do, however, need to be subject matter experts.
The point here is that the tools are not enough. Google Reader, Del.icio.us etc already exist and can be used to manage and view information. But the need is there for a guiding human hand, someone used to dealing with large amounts of information and with the ability to be able to spot at a glance what is useful, and to whom.
This is yet another facet of the role that is emerging, including the community facilitators that Steve Dale has written about, and the online community organiser that Seth Godin has discussed. Bring in other elements: Steve Bridger‘s buzz director, David Wilcox‘s institutional hacker, Nancy White‘s community technology steward.
Slowly there is a job description building up for a role which is needed within every organisation – the only issue is, do they know it yet?