There’s already been a lot of buzz about how 2011 will be the Year of the Curator. If you haven’t read it yet, start with Brian Solis’s fantastic State of the Blogosphere 2010 (down for me right now, so here’s a cached version) in which he defines the role of curators:
In social media, a curator is the keeper of the interest graphs that are important to them. By discovering, organizing, and sharing relevant and interesting content from around the Web through their social streams of choice, curators invest in the integrity of their network as well as their relationships. Information becomes currency and the ability to recognize something of interest as well as package it in a compelling, consumable and also sharable format is an art. Curators earn greater social capital for their role in qualifying, filtering, and refining the content introduced to the streams that connect their interest graphs.
I wholeheartedly agree. The social media firehose is getting ever bigger, and it’s getting harder and harder to pick out the things truly worth reading or watching. I thought I’d spend some time writing about the tools I use to find (and share) interesting content.
First up: MetaFilter. MetaFilter is nothing new, but it’s where I turn when I want deeply engaging content and a high-quality conversation around it. MetaFilter is free to read, but costs $5 (one-time fee) if you want to post or comment. It’s also moderated by humans. Always. I’m amazed that these two features are sufficient to keep it completely free of spam and (most) stupidity. If nothing else, throw it in your RSS reader.
Next: Flipboard. Flipboard is an awesome little iPad app that displays images, text, and video from your social networks, RSS feeds, and Flipboard’s own human-curated categories (only the ones you want, of course). Outside of the their own curated lists, it doesn’t sound like much, but the alternative views of your social feeds are really great, bringing things to your attention that you might otherwise have missed. The main thing I love about it is that it’ll inline images or articles your friends link, thus decreasing the friction of having to load things yourself and increasing the chance that you’ll see something really great.
My companion to Flipboard is Reeder. Reeder is a gorgeous little RSS reader for iPhone, iPad, and (soon) Mac. The interface is fantastic, it syncs with Google Reader so you can keep proper read/unread status across multiple clients, and it has a host of built-in methods to share things with your networks. And, of course, it can save to your Instapaper account if you want to read something later.
The SAY 100. This is a list of 100 influential online voices, as started (but not finished) by SAY Media (yes, I work for them, but this is still a really awesome project!), who picked a leading voice for each of 10 topics, and then asked each of those ten to pick their top ten. The result is a list of great starting places for whatever topics you might be interested in learning about or following.
Another neat thing I use with a certain group of online friends is Naus. Naus is powered by a dead-simple engine for tumblelogging written by one Charlie Loyd, a good friend of mine. It doesn’t do a lot of things that you can do with Tumblr, but that’s not the point. It’s a place for a handful of us to dump links, images, videos, and essays we want to share with each other. I highly recommend doing something like this with some of your friends — it’s a really great way to share things with people you know will be interested in them, and to read things you know you’ll be interested in. Keep it to a small group, no more than 10 or 20. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what happens.
Last, but not least: Stellar. Stellar is brand new. Think of it as a meta-feed (“flow” is their term) of everything your friends have marked as a favorite on Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Vimeo. It lets you share tweets and images/video as easily as retweeting or pasting a link, but it’s totally opt-in. Only people who are following you on Stellar see your Stellar favorites show up in their flows. Get an account (okay, put yourself on the waiting list), and start clicking that star button on Twitter and Flickr!