I’m reading Steve Rosenbaum’s new book, Curation Nation — He talks interestingly about social media like Twitter as being tools for curation, which he says are often better than Google in helping people find what they’re looking for.

As a prime example of why he thinks curation is the wave of the future and “search is broken (p 252),” he talks about googling his name (steve rosenbaum) in Google Image Search, and getting many false hits, including pictures of women and a pomeranian dog. His use of Google Image Search here rather than the standard googling tool Google Web search is puzzling — I guess he does it to prove his claim that “search is broken” — In Google Web search, though, searching for steve rosenbaum works just fine — All of the top 10 results are for Steve the book author.

So I think Rosenbaum is confused when he asserts that “search is broken” or “search is dead” (see below*) based upon his experience in searching Google Image search. But in bringing pictures into the discussion, he IS on to something important, which goes along with the book’s “curation” theme, and which I’ve hit upon frequently in this blog. As Rosenbaum discusses repeatedly, an important element of “curation” is that it’s done by human beings, as opposed to automated tools like search engines. This very much echoes a major theme of Seeing the Picture — starting with the very first article — which is the idea that pictures require a large amount of human input, on many levels, starting with the process of “curating” them so they can be found.

I’m finding Rosenbaum’s book especially interesting because, in addition to pictures, he also touches on other curatorial themes that I’ve discussed here:

Twitter – As mentioned above, he mentions Twitter prominently as an example of curation, and I’ve written about tweets being superb curatorial tools to focus the eyeballs of the Twitterverse on valuable information nuggets.

Wikipedia – At its tenth anniversary in January, I wrote about Wikipedia in very much the same vein as Rosenbaum, contrasting it as a tool for human curation in contrast to the machine-mind of Google. When I wrote this article, I was surprised to find that Wikipedia is not often discussed as an example of curation, so I was glad to see that Rosenbaum does.

*In Rosenbaum’s talk at TOC 2011, he goes over the same story of googling his name in Google Image search, to show the problems with Search — In the talk he says search is “dead” instead “broken,” as he says in the book.

Eric Rumsey is at: eric-rumsey AttSign uiowa dott edu and on Twitter @ericrumsey

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