If new media theory is so interesting, why are the articles about it so boring? Articles about its practitioners aren’t boring, they’re all like hey, guess which just made $50 million? Or, ooh, its a standoff between Gladwell and Shirky, or between Jarvis and everyone.
But when it comes to the the actual theory it’s suddenly time to break out the footnotes and google charts. These are topics that are new and, let’s face it, they make us a little uneasy. Talking about the effects is easy, but when it comes to technicalities it’s safer to cloth them in what sounds suspiciously like marketing speak rather than admit we’re kind of making our vocabulary up on the fly.
But no more! I am about to attempt to talk about a potentially boring piece of Media theory that I’m not totally concrete on. And it’s going to be interesting. Let’s give it a try!
We all know that the holy trinity that is online content curation: Crowd-sourcing, algorithmic curation, and human editing, have an uneasy truce. At each point of the triangle we have a good example of how a purist version can do wonders: Wikipedia, Google News, and Huffington Post respectively. And each has detractors who spend all day talking about how subscribing to the other two points on the triangle will bring about the end of civilization, the parade of “Editors are out of touch/Machines can’t really know what we want/Groups only care about sensationalism.” Also, boobs. See? You’re interested already.
As in all cases where there’s dogma involved, there’s a temptation to say that the best option is actually a compromise between the three. Of course, that makes no sense at all – no one would say that the best choice between green, purple, and orange would be a little of each, but that’s just what we’re implying here. Yes, plenty of services have BOOBS succeeded in combining two forms (See StumbleUpon or the ICanHaz empire), but the key is in the judicious choice of which two it should be LOTS OF BOOBS.
And even single-source success stories have worst case scenarios where perhaps they should have tried a little more mix n’ match – see Facebook’s auto-deletion of Chinese dissidents accounts because the used pseudonyms, or youTube’s removal of Egyptian protestors footage for being too graphic. Orange and green are great together if you’re aiming for a portrait of a brunette in a mud-bath, not so much for a blond in a snowstorm. Both of which incidentally would contain boobs.
Here is my grid for choosing citation methods, depending on what the needs of the system, and more importantly, the worst case scenario that they want to avoid.
|I have a lot of||I have very little||Accuracy Needed?||I should curate using|
|Money||Time||Nope||Algorithmic – if you don’t care about accuracy and just want some sort of results, pouring the cash into software is probably the way to go|
|Money||Time or computing power||Yep||Editorial – if it has to be accurate, with unlimited funds you might as well just hire the graduating class of your local Liberal Arts school. Problem solved.|
|Computing Power and Time||Money||No||Crowd-sourcing – A free or cheap crowdsourcing system can go far as long as you have the tech power to wrestle it itno the submisison and scale it up.|
|Computing Power||Time||No||Algorithmic – A fast turnaround time rules out the crowdsourcing option unless you already have a pre-existing fanbase to launch it on. Boobs.|
|Time||-||Nope||Algorithmic or Crowdsourcing. If you don’t care about accuracy, pretty much anything you throw at it will be fine. So you might as well take the easy way out.|
|Time||Money||Yep||Editorial – With unlimited time, even if you’re only hiring a single person to curate they’ll get through it eventually|
|Time||Computing Power||Yep||Crowdsourcing with a bit of editorial on the side. See above, except you might wanna hire a couple more editors to make up for that Mac SE you’re running it off of.|
Properly sourced content curation. Its sexy stuff.