Curating Our Lives
I recently discovered Scoop.It!, a point-and-click way to collect resources from across the web and share them with others. It’s got the nice appearance of something like paper.li and the convenience of Instapaper. But where paper.li appears as an issue, pulling stories from Twitter & FaceBook, Scoop.it pulls from news feeds, blogs, and other sources, plus it’s always available– the “scoops” just scroll down and eventually, when there are enough scoops, the Scoop.it develops multiple pages. Where Instapaper is a personal service designed to let an individual read clipped resources later, Scoop.it is meant for sharing.
The word on the Web is that “curating” information will become the next big trend. Scoop.it is a great tool for curating information; it has real potential for teachers and students: it could be an easy way to cite Web-based background info for research projects, a tool for student collaborations, a great platform for students to use to document their online presence (AKA digital footprint).
It’s easy to start collecting resources. You stick a little bookmarklet in your toolbar and click it whenever something catches your eye. In a matter of minutes, I had almost a page of scoops. This gave me pause, several of them, in fact.
I could scoop all day and the resources, images, articles would still keep pouring onto the Web. I know some people avoid getting involved with social media out of fear that won’t be able to keep up. I’ve never experienced that; I embrace the image of the Web as a stream that keeps flowing. Part of that has been an acceptance that information will flow by again, or I’ll be able to find it again. There’s a Zen-like feel to the philosophy of Web-as-stream. You go about your business, The Web goes about its. With Scoop.it, suddenly I was waist-deep in the stream, trying to grab at the best stuff, trying to hold on to it.
This is not the relationship I want with the Web. First, as the information flood rises, and it will, all I’ll get is a good dunking.
There are other metaphors to consider: I will get washed away. Not the physical me– this is a metaphor, remember?– but the way I come to know things. I’ll be focused on the torrents raging around me, not my own stream of thought.
Then, do I want to pull people in after me? Yes, yes, I know, people are responsible for their own actions and decisions about what to engage, what to pass by. But by saying you’ve got a collection of information to share, you are saying not only I feel this is valuable but I want you to look at this, think about this! Suddenly, the information is not just information, it’s imprinted with your values, your points of view. It’s mediating potential connections with others. So, sharing information becomes a kind of responsibility. Is everything I’m scooping relevant to this topic? Why? What’s truly the most important thing I want to share? Why?
The why seem to me to be the point. While Scoop.it will pull text from a site and insert it into a box next to an image also drawn from the site, it strikes me that the box is the place for me to insert myself. Curating has to be more than just sharing information– anyone can get their own information. What everyone can’t get is what I make of the information I find.
Educators talk about “information literacy”: How to search for information on the Web, assess its validity, identify vested interests or other points of view in the design and content of the site. I get the impression we’re mostly talking at kids about this. I hope we’ll do something a little different.
If we are each making something of the information we encounter, we are all making something different. Every second we make something new. I want to know what you’re making– students, too. I want to tell you what I think of it. I want to know what you think of what I’m making.
I want us all to ask our kids, what are you making of all this, of yourself, your life? Show me, I want us to say. Then I want us to listen.