Are you gonna curate that?

With the advent of the internet and the explosion of content, legacy media models have begun to flounder in the new information age. Where news used to be in the hands of the gatekeeper, it is now in the hands of the masses, the prosumers, also known as gatewatchers. What becomes valuable in this period is the endless cycle of massified information production, aggregation, and curation.

This cycle is characterised by Bruns when he talks about gatewatching, which he says is “conducted on a far more ad hoc, decentralised and crowdsourced basis than has been possible for gatekeeper journalism.” Like the permanent beta, this cycle is continuous and unfinished. This cycle lends itself to what Bruns describes as ‘deliberative journalism,’ where conversation is the vehicle for production, aggregation, and curation.

Take Twitter, for example, where meaningless individual tweets join together to create the resonant effect of a story unfolding as they are aggregated with hashtags and curated by comment and analysis. Johnson sums up this unfolding of a story by describing it as “a suspension bridge made of pebbles.” In a world where information is abundant, coherence is key. We gain this coherence through the valuable, and often scarce, services of aggregation and curation, which gives information value, because it suddenly transforms from being confusing to clear.

Bruns, A 2009, News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions For e-journalism, EJournalism: New Directions in Electronic News Media, New Delhi, BR Publishing, pp. 01-20.

Johnson, S 2009, How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live, TIME, viewed 19 September 2015,,8816,1902604,00.html

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 1], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015,

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 2], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015,

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 3], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015,

Israelson, N 2009, Bulgaria Pollution River, image, Flickr, viewed 19 September 2015,

Note: I have modified Israelson’s image.


8 thoughts on “Are you gonna curate that?

  1. I think Ted explained it best during the lecture when he said when content, when everyone can contribute information, sifting through the avalanche of content and formatting, aggregating, and curating it is what becomes valuable.
    What I find most interesting about the “chronic task of sorting” is that Twitter’s core form of content aggregation, the hashtag, was essentially a user created way to group conversations on certain topics.

  2. Hi Jacob,

    It is certainly true that legacy media models are struggling to compete with the speed of access, convenience and short feedback loops of social media news distribution. However, you’d be surprised to know that traditional media is also trying to make a come-back. Check out this interesting article:

    Journalists are using a new free Facebook feature called the “Signal” that allows them to dig news on a real-time basis, find out what is trending and get access to pre-viral content. The interface of Signal looks quite similar to the Twitter dashboard, helping journalists to curate content and aggregate news effortlessly. It appears that mainstream media is now embracing social media on the basis that “if you can’t beat them, join them”.

    I think it would be great if you added some hyperlinks into your post. For example, linking to a real-life example where Twitter has facilitated the aggregation of tweets into a meaningful, unfolding story would be interesting. Great work on a thought-provoking post, Jacob!

  3. Your blog post is very informative, and your link to theorists is engaging and backs up your claims. Twitter was a perfect example, however an example within twitter for example showing a series of hashtags where this aggregation of valuable information may have added depth. I love the meme, nice blog! 🙂

  4. Hey Jacob,
    I found it very interesting this week that in the apparent avalanche of content, we lose sight of what holds value unless we take it as a whole, rather than individual pieces. Like you’ve relayed about Steven Johnson’s thoughts on twitter, individual tweets can be almost meaningless pieces of 140-character information without the context of the larger whole; “the sum total of these tweets adds up to something truly substantive, like a suspension bridge made out of pebbles”. Not only is it the whole that gives the pieces value, but it is the organisation and formatting (curation) of this bombardment of content that adds value, as you’ve displayed in your meme – a very clever and funny way of showing this!
    Thumbs up for an informative post, though I do agree with other comments in that perhaps adding in some visual examples of tweets would also give greater value to your blog :).

  5. Hey! Awesome blog post. The contextual writing was extremely clear and very well written. I actually think I understood the most of this weeks topic through by reading this post. Well done. The meme is so relevant as well. To represent how there is a constant overflow of information on the internet which is relatively new to us. Good job!

  6. Hi Jacob,

    Really interesting post. Your meme was one of total chaos and the intricate and completely overwhelming task of sorting out this endless cycle of massified information production, aggregation, and curation. Your meme depicts, that the value is in the aggregated flow of individual contributions which can seem like an overwhelming task. On the one hand, this environment of massified information provides a sense of “power to the people” and fits well in context with a quote that Ted used in this week’s lecture;

    “While audiences did retain the ability to buy or not to buy the newspaper, to switch on or off the radio and television news, in practice this choice amounted in many local markets that were served by only one or two major news outlets simply to a choice between the news as it was offered, or a self-imposed news blackout” – Axel Bruns

    This clearly shows the ways in which journalism has been forced to change and the multitude of environments in which it now operates. The power has been put more into the hands of produsers, and choice is one of the most valued commodities.

  7. Your meme is an amazing example of how vast the bridge of pebbles is and how hard it is to curate and filter the sheer amount of data and information that is being sent between the nodes in a distributed network and how the roles of the gatekeepers in them are tougher than that of a centralised network gatekeeper. The flow of information is so heavy it’s almost impossible to sort through it all to find the information worth keeping. Great post, you laid everything out nicely and it flowed well.

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