The publishing immersive at the Like Minds conference in Exeter, hosted by Andrew Davies of [Idio](http://idioplatform.com/), is packed out. It’s literally standing room only, as we’ve stolen all the seats we can from the ill-attended Microsoft Windows 7 launch in an adjacent room.
We’ve kicked off with some good general scene-setting, mainly around that crucial issue that the cost of publishing is tending towards zero, opening access to publishing to everyone, from the individual to the brand. And from there we’re diving into a discussion about curation. Lots of ideas coming out here, around the ideas of working to what people want, as well as the idea that it’s a more valuable product than aggregation because there’s choice being made to increase the value of what’s being drawn together.
And now we’re looking at physical world curation. [Molly](http://mollyflatt.com/) from [1000 Heads](http://www.1000heads.com/) is making the point that this is about context and relationship (someone pointed out earlier that Facebook has proved to us that people find lists of friends boring, but it’s the relationships that are fascinating). She also brought the idea that narrative is an important part of curation, which I agree with. Humans seek narrative to make sense of things. Another attendee brought up the idea of a journey, of guiding people through things, which feels like an extension of the same thing.
[Neil Thackray](http://neilthackray.wordpress.com/) of the [Media Briefing](http://www.themediabriefing.com/) makes the point that too many publishers are following the music industry model of trying to shut down new models, rather than embracing then, following [George Nimeh](http://www.i-boy.com/)‘s point that people in the room are tending to use “we” to refer to the publishing industry, were people from outside that industry have already figured out some of the answers (eg [Mumsnet](http://www.mumsnet.com/ "Mumsnet")).
Lots of discussion about value being key – you’ll only get interaction if you’ve managed to get relevance, for example. Slight detour into “is human intervention necessarily part of curation” – yes – “can mechanical processes be part of it?” – yes. And we’re back to the semantics of curation. Is all of Twitter curation? One person thinks so. I’d suggest that some people curate on Twitter, but not everyone. Can you curate for yourself? Quite possibly, but I rather feel that our grasp on this word is spinning out of control…
Ah, now, here we have a good point – curation is about filtering, it’s not about getting access to everything, it’s about getting access to relevancy. We’re reading more than we were 10 years ago – because there is now abundance of publishing. Are we enjoying it more, asked one lady? For me: yes, because I’m curating for myself the people I choose to read, in concert with the curation of my friends on colleagues, rather than being dependent on a single editor.
Interesting distinction between “bought media” – the traditional media approach of buying advertising space – and “earned media” – engagement with a community through your own social media activities. Self-publishing is becoming more important, and that’s a challenge to traditional publishers. Thackray leaps in again to point out that many people are chasing audience numbers to the exclusion of all else, without a clear sense of their value, or if a high level of engagement with a smaller number people would actually be more valuable.
Some horrible misconceptions about Google and numbers thrown around, but [James Whatley](http://whatleydude.com/) jumps in with some sensible stuff about Facebook, and how his work for Nokia is measured by a whole range of metrics, not just numbers of fans, but participation, engagement, etc. He cites a US Facebook fan page that has many more fans, but no curation or community management, so the wall is full of insults, and attacks on the company. Numbers is a fools’ way of measuring success, if that’s the only measure you use.
And now we move to small group discussions.
Reporting back from those:
- One group thinks people will get fatigued with a la carte news and go back to trusted sources (wishful thinking there – I think the new trusted sources are people’s friends and contacts) - Another suggested that publishers are destroying trust – *The Times* is coming across as punishing its readers for not clicking enough links. Davies suggested that an audience suggests relationship, longevity and trust – which will outlast any platform. - Curation in Cancer Research – how do you bring scientific research into it? (reminds me of the [Science Online discussion](http://www.onemanandhisblog.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&tag=science&limit=20)). How do you draw money from relationships? Are social hubs narrowing our range? Davies suggests that their stats suggest very little political affiliation to papers, but far more to their friends. - Lots of familiar debate about the problems of diminishing advertising returns, the BBC being to blame, etc. Thackary makes the point that these problems are pre-internet (he quoted something he wrote about local newspapers in 1981) and that we’re just using it as an excuse for the deep betrayal of trust the journalism business have inflicted on its audience. - Lots of talk about maybe journalists going off and building their own businesses. Very little awareness that this is already happening… Lots of 2006-esque discussion about “newspapers using blogging” and “citizen journalism”. Will to live fading… Davies tries to drag it back to 2010 with discussion of data journalism, but nobody’s biting. (I tried). - Lovely closing quote pointing out what too many people are missing – content is no longer scarce. Relationship and trust are scarce. New business models will emerge from new forms of journalism, and new methods of journalism. And I want my lunch.
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