You may have seen our post last week heralding the arrival of Twitter lists and pointing out some of the ones we've created for the Tufts Twitter account. But now that the "OMG! They're here!" factor has died down a bit and people are really beginning to play with the new functionality and figure out what it all means, there are some interesting insights being bandied about.
One of them ties into the notion that the next phase of content management (I say that as a principle, not an application) on the web is content curation. Writing for CNN.com, Mashable founder Pete Cashmore says that Twitter lists are the latest indication of a model moving toward real-time information curation, a role he says that journalists -- perhaps being pushed out of the print model that has dominated up until recently -- are well-equipped to fill.
In the attention economy, wherein the scarce resource is time and the abundant one is content, those who effectively allocate our attention create value. Where value is created, it follows that money can be made. The inevitable outcome: Web curators are not just real-time but full-time. ... Journalists, it would seem, are well-placed to capitalize on the trend, since directing an audience's attention via links is not materially different to editing a newspaper or magazine.
In a similar vein, multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook recently blogged about a new venture, led by London's Headshift, exploring the marriage of social media, journalism and user-generated content using a curation (as opposed to moderation) model. Headshift's Robin Hamman blogged in more detail about the idea, which is currently being demoed at Climate Pulse around the topic of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference.
In plain English, Climate Pulse basically monitors and aggregates blog posts, news websites, twitter tweets and a wide range of other sources we've configured in the backend. An editor can then curate this content and display it as they wish - for example letting the flow appear as a raw feed, tagging or geo-tagging content, featuring the best stuff, etc.
Though the functionality and the ideas are relatively new, they were put to the test in the journalism world last week in the wake of the shootings at Fort Hood in Texas. Major news organizations, as Poynter explains, used Twitter lists as a means of curating information on the breaking news story in real-time from a variety of sources.
Currently, we try to curate some of the Tufts-related content we find on the social web. It's a rewarding, albeit manual process. It will be exciting to see more tools like this develop as content curation becomes an increasingly popular model of managing and presenting user-generated and social content on the web.
The real-time web continues to evolve and define itself -- and defy definition. Hard to say what will come next, but it's sure keeping us on our toes.