Following the seismic political events of 2016, I posted a piece called ‘Human Curation – Important Now More Than Ever’. I focused on the importance of curation to ensure we don’t become myopic and why we need curators to ensure we have as much input as possible to make full rounded and aware decisions:
“open-mindedness, curiosity, a willingness to bring the unsaid stuff out onto the table and being able to listen are critical”.
Since publishing this, I came across a fascinating article from the Harvard Business Review written by researchers at Microsoft Research, which broadens the discussion still further. I suggested that the role of curator could be of real significance and importance to organisational adaptability and survival, so we should nurture, support and value it. Of course, much of the work of research, data analysis and synthesis is why there is such huge investment in AI (Artificial Intelligence). So is curation necessary if IBM Watson and the many engines that drive services from Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, Microsoft and make more can take care of that for us? The reality is that sat behind the algorithms are many contract staff making decisions on content and filtering, censoring, removing or adapting content. The ‘judgment call’ is so contextual to contemporary circumstances, trends, social norms and events that it relies on a combination of technology and human action. So rather than replace the curator, its shaping and forming a new role and skill set. One worrying aspect of this in its current guise is the importance and support given to those who are providing these services. The article describes a fairly negative picture of the conditions, remuneration, standards and support for those who are conducting what is a fairly sophisticated editorial role. Its worth reflecting on this in our organisations – curating the information, research, data, stories, insights and content needed for our context as well as exposing the organisation to insights of which it may be unaware takes time, business insight, rigour, curiosity and skill. If done well, the value it will deliver to the organisation will be self evident. So as investments go, in time saved, ideas generated, new options made available, efficiencies, improved market awareness etc its worth giving the role proper consideration, development, support and reward. I’d love to hear from anyone who works in an organisation where they can share insights into the practice on the ground.