More than 300,000 book titles are published each year in the United States alone. About a trillion gigabytes of digital data are generated every year. Over 25 million hours of new video is uploaded to Youtube each year. There are about 1,200 coffee roasters and over 3,000 breweries in the United States alone. There are over 43,000 recipes on Allrecipes.com. There are over 3,000 breweries in the United States alone. You can choose from over 1.3 million apps available in Apple’s iTunes App Store or over 26 million songs on iTunes. Over 63 million new blogs are started each year. There are well over 300,000 movies out there to watch, and you can find about 10,000 of them on Netflix.
The point here is that there are too many products available today, so you need to be picky about which ones to allow into your world. You can’t possibly try even a tiny fraction of every type of beer produced, or every coffee roasted, or every recipe published online. There is no way you can watch every YouTube video uploaded, or read every book published, or listen to every song released on iTunes. You need to choose just a few.
But how do you start to decide which of the 63 million new blogs to add to your feed? If you only have time for one movie each week, how do you choose which of the 10,000 movies on Netflix to watch? If you just have 16 gigabytes on your iPhone, how do you decide which of the 1,300,000 apps to install on it? The answer is curation.
All of those tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts, songs, movies, articles, and others are just raw data. We need to skim the useful ones off the top and process them into a bigger picture of what they mean to us. We are mistaking the useless raw data for the processed valuable data. A long time ago, books and videos were curated enough that you could conceivably absorb them all as they came out. All the junk that didn’t make the cut simply wouldn’t be released into the wild for consumption. Now, the Internet changes everything. Data has gone amateur. You no longer have to be a professional writer to publish. You no longer have to be a professional musician to release albums. You no longer have to be an expert cinematographer or director to make movies. All you need is a computer and the internet.
As I mentioned earlier, there are about a trillion gigabytes of digital data generated every year. Most of it is garbage. Here is where curation comes to save us from drowning in our own data. Curation is the reviews we read. Curation is the “top lists” we skim. Curation is the word-of-mouth we hear. As Malcolm Gladwell mentions in his book The Tipping Point, there are mavens out there who are intense gatherers of information. They find the best data and report on their findings to anyone who will listen. Listen to the mavens. They sort through the garbage, so you don’t have to.
When finding curated content, cast as wide a net as possible. The holy grail of curation is to capture the best works across the entire world. You want to know the best restaurants, books, software, movies, beers, and others in the world, not just the best in your neighborhood.