Friday, April 22, 2011

A Case for Curation

It has been my opinion that one of the biggest challenges facing librarianship is a branding issue. (I am hardly the first nor will I be the last the bring-up this topic.) Beyond the portrayals in the media or the impression with the general public librarians often struggle with positioning their role as key to an organization's success. Information is the foundation for any modern endeavor inside and outside the business world.  A recent study in First Monday by Alison J. Head, Ph.D. and Michael B. Eisenberg, Ph.D showed that college students searched for information regularly for both school and personal reasons and they spent days often trying to find information to help with major (or not so major life decisions). For the millennial generation and those currently coming of age the search for information is a lifelong pursuit. As average person is faced with an array of information corresponding to any decision they may face. We've progressed beyond information overload to information fatigue.  Yet still there seems to be a culture of search  amongst many information users and purveyors. However, there may be a time when search fails due to too much information. 

A fairly recent article in the Wall Street Journal on change the in YouTube's content strategy shows the importance in curated content alongside search. Don't get me wrong I enjoy search to no-end; being able to place a word/phrase in a text box and have computers in a data center crawl the web for a corresponding match is brilliant. However, it has always struck me that more is not always better than less. There is no variable in a search result to match how much a particular result set meets the user's intention. It can match word for word, but there is no way to match the intention. I would argue for a hybrid approach collect content within a single vertical or gather together particular important/authoritative content. Aid searchers in determining the authority of content and thus help them make their decisions easier.

References:
How College Students Use the Web to Conduct Research by Alison J Head; Michael Eisenberg (http://www.uic.edu/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3484/2857) Published on: 04.04.2011 and Accessed on: 04.22.2011

YouTube Recasts for News Viewers by Jessica Vascellaro; Amir Efrati; Ethan Smith (http://on.wsj.com/eXgu9A) Published on: 04.07.2011 and Accessed on: 04.22.2011