Monday, November 26, 2012

Curation vs. Creation

I was reading on Twitter a while back that curation was getting attacked.  The biggest slam is that when you just repeat other people's ideas, you aren't really adding anything to the conversation. 

Here is my response to that:


(I actually didn't think up that response myself.  I saw it somewhere else, and I thought it was appropriate here, so I copied it and pasted it into this blog.

Why?  Well, it summed up pretty well what I wanted to say, so I didn't see the point of cluttering up my nice, clean blog with something too wordy, [You know, unless it is parenthetical].

Besides, what's wrong with curation?  I come from a long line of copiers.*  I am pretty sure my conception followed pretty much the same pattern as that of of my forefathers.  So maybe curation is in my blood.  One of my uncles was a jeweller.  He didn't go out and mine or create diamonds, but he did do a wonderful job of taking people's gems and setting them so other people could witness and appreciate the beauty of the precious stones.

I'd like to think that as a curator of other people's ideas, I do the same thing.  I hold up other people's ideas for scrutiny, for appreciation, and for inspiration. 

Or maybe I am just lazy.  It is hard work, coming up with brilliant ideas all the time.  I don't know how people do it!  I mentioned before my action figure might be Inaction Man because I am so lazy.  But now, as an idea curator, I've moved up in the world.  My new role is Coat-Tail Man!  I fearlessly ride around on other people's coat tails until something interesting happens.

I've had a lot of success in my career, but a lot of that has come from being in the right place at the right time.  Sometimes I feel like the Forrest Gump of education.  Cool things happen around me, and I just happened to be there.  It pays to show up.

I do have to say that sometimes it is more than that.  I have created this new word that describes why some great things have happened to me: serendipportunism.  It's a mixture of serendipity and opportunism.  Unplanned happy things fall in my lap, but, and here is the important part, I take full advantage of them:  I met my Fairy Godmother on a ski hill 17 years ago, and turned the opportunity into some dream projects [plus two videos, a handful of articles, and a magazine cover];  I was asked to do some very rudimentary desktop publishing and parlayed it into an honour from the Governor General; and my aunt tried to set me up with this girl a bunch of times, but I couldn't stand the thought of being set up by my aunt, so I married the girl instead.  You know, serendipportunistic stuff like that.

I like to think that curation has its purpose.  Someone has to bring the ideas together and share them so we can all learn from them, even if it means rejecting the ideas.  Curation helps to define us, to refine us, and to document us.  Someone has to reflect our ideas back at us to say, "This is us," or ask "Is this us?"

At the very least, curation gives me something to do until I step off your coat tails and create something of my own.)

*I have a cousin who works for Canon.

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