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'Curating' The Secret History of Social Networking

Thursday 27 January 2011, 10:03

Steve Bowbrick Steve Bowbrick Head of Interactive, Radio 3

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The Mick Jones Public Lending Library, under The Westway, 2009.

Curation is going to be one of the big words of 2011. Everyone's at it. My Saturday newspaper offers to 'curate my weekend', chefs 'curate lunch'. Every time we share a link or a music track with friends we're 'curating the web'. Real curators, of course, will object to such imprecise use of the term but it does seem to be useful in describing the pulling together of links, reviews, reactions and background that we often do here on the BBC blogs.

Jem Stone, whose day job is running social media for BBC Radio, has been experimenting with one of the emerging crop of 'curation tools' (this one's called Storify, there are several others. We'll try them all) so I've asked him to assemble a page of useful context for Rory Cellan-Jones' fascinating 'The Secret History of Social Networking'. Let us know what you think. A useful addition to the broadcast output? Or another distraction?

The application is a pre-release (beta) version and you may find some glitches in the presentation of links etc. so please leave a comment if you spot one.

Steve Bowbrick is editor of the Radio 4 blog

  • Listen to the first episode of The Secret History of Social Networking on the Radio 4 web site.
  • The picture shows the Mick Jones public lending library, an exhibition of pop cultural ephemera curated by the Clash guitarist in 2009.

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    Comment number 1.

    The Grateful Dead could be totally boring sometimes, Steve.

    Incidentally, I tried pressing the 'Email' link in your post. I put Russ in the from box and my e-mail address in the e-mail box but that was it - nothing happened. Should anything have happened? (The Twitter link didn't work either, not that I would know how to work that anyway.)


    P.S. I do miss speechification.com - now that was a classy bit of curating.

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    Comment number 2.

    So this to me, feels like an archive as opposed to a curation, it seems to be a collecting together of various materials related to the program in one place. Whilst this is interesting and a valuable resource, the grouping together of items primarily by content type (reviews, blogs, tweets, photos, video clips, sources etc) as opposed to other means (perhaps by theme, or specific activities related to the making and interactive broadcasting of the program) means it feels like a big (but valuable) appendix.

    If curation is simply about organizing 'stuff' related to the program then this approach is great, however if curation is about more than that then some other dimensions or aspects may need to be brought in (e.g. activities in the process of making of the program, or specific themes the program explored).

    BTW i thought the facebook page was v.good, it gave an insight into the making and build up to the program, which builds interest, and could potentially make it into an interactive series.

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    Comment number 3.

    My earliest experience of social networking was when my grandmother died, in 1951.

    I had four aunts living at different addresses. My father was her other (5th) child.

    As each phoned another via a London telephone exchange, suddenly the impossible happened, no doubt due to a sympathetic if inquisitive operator. All five telephones were connected to each other and what today would be called a telephone conference began.

    Despite the rigour of their religious backgrounds and the emotional upset they all felt, no one wobbled. None thought it a miracle, all that the telephone operator had hacked in (in today's speak) and thank goodness she had.

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    Comment number 4.

    Thanks for your feedback everyone. Very useful. And thanks for an amazing story NewDawininG. A small telephone miracle!

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog


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Find out about this year's panel and theme