From author and TPV regular Andrew Updegrove:
It is fashionable for content producers to rail against the concept of “curation” in the Age of the Internet. Why? Because the guidelines of those terrible people, the “traditional publishers,” are supposedly keeping authors from the global audience that certainly must be their birthright. True, the balance can (and in the recent past certainly has) swung too far in the direction of permitting far too few good books to gain access to traditional distribution channels.
But it’s worth remembering that the situation can look very different to a content consumer than it does to a content producer.
Why is that so? Because in the modern world, we are awash – indeed drowning – in a flood of content and data. More than we could ever possibly consume, even if we had a lifetime to read even a single day’s output of the global Internet production machine. And what drives that machine to expose most content is too often purely commercial, or ideological, or just damn silliness rather than good editorial judgment (take a look at your Twitter feed, if you think I’m wrong).
This is not, of course, entirely bad, although it is undisciplined. Content producers that previously had no way to reach an audience now can, and thousands of eminently worthwhile creators have taken advantage of the level playing field that the Internet provides to reach a readership that they could never have accessed a generation ago. And that audience has benefited equally.
But the Internet is non-judgmental: everyone’s bytes are just as worthy as everyone else’s when it comes to transmissibility. That leaves readers with a serious problem. How do you find the time to winnow the wheat from the chaff? Or even the occasional wheat from the usual chaff of a single source?
That’s where the process of curation comes in. I’m a lifelong reader of The New York Times, and even at its current high price, I still find enormous value in the fact that a staff of demonstrably educated, talented, discerning individuals are consumed with the goal of distilling all of the news that the world creates in 24 hours into a digestible summary of articles that they believe are worth the notice of someone that has only so much time to dedicate in any given day to keeping up with the news.
. . . .
If that sounds like agents and publishers, well, guess what, it should. The combination of filters and curation is a timeless, fractal approach that has demonstrable benefits. Just as a start-up company is only likely to get the attention of a venture capitalist if they are recommended by a start-up attorney (like me), accountant or other entrepreneur, publishers rely on agents to filter the great mass of submission, and so it is across many other disciplines as well. The reading public benefits accordingly.
Is the process perfect? Of course not. There are endless numbers of worthwhile books you’ll never be exposed to if you only shop at brick and mortar stores. But how much reading time do you have in one lifetime, anyway? And at least you’re not likely to find dreck when you pull a book off a shelf at Barnes & Noble.
So here’s the moral to the story: we shouldn’t want to go back to the days where the publishers (and particularly today’s Big 5, corporate owned publishers) have near-total control over what content can reach an audience. But we also do not (yet) benefit from an ecosystem on the self-publishing side where readers can easily find the best self-published new books among the hundreds of thousands of new offerings that reach the market every year.
Link to the rest at Andrew Updegrove
Here’s a link to Andrew Updegrove’s books