I recently attended a talk by Régine Debatty who runs the “we make money not art” blog. During her talk she compared blogging to curating and called bloggers curators, but are we?
A curator is one who has the care and superintendence of something; especially: one in charge of a museum, zoo, or other place of exhibit (Merriam-Webster Online)
A curator of a cultural heritage institution (e.g., archive, gallery, library, museum or garden) is a content specialist responsible for an institution’s collections and their associated collections catalogs. The object of a curator’s concern necessarily involves tangible objects of some sort, whether it be inter alia artwork, collectibles, historic items or scientific collections. (Wikipedia)
Not every blogger is a content specialist
Depending on your blog’s content focus you may be a a specialist in your field but this does not mean that every blogger is a content specialist. Some bloggers just share links on a certain topic while others offer extensive insights on the same topic. It is also hard to talk about the blogger as a content specialist if your blog functions as a personal diary.
Your blog is not a physical tangible object but the product of a practice
Régine Debatty told the story of a Brazilian new media artist who was invited to present her work at a conference. The artist went to the embassy to get a visa but they would not issue her a visa because they did not grasp the concept of a digital media artist. She had to be able to present tangible art objects in order to get a visa. She went home, printed out everything that was written about her project, went back to the embassy, presented them the prints and received her visa.
Of course you can print out your blog for your grandmother but this does not do your blog justice. You can not “fix” your blog on a print because blogging is a practice. With every post you write your blog expands and with every link you make you place yourself in a network. Commenting on other blogs, customizing your sidebar, creating a blogroll, it is all a part of the dynamic practice of blogging.
Your blog is not a catalog
A catalog is a systematic list but the great thing about blogs is that they’re not directories. Boing Boing’s tagline is ‘A Directory of Wonderful Things‘ but where did the directory go? Boing Boing’s blog posts used to be neatly organized in 93 directories that were displayed on the front page. Google and Yahoo! also started out with organizing the web in directories but edited directories are slowly being phased out. We still use categories to organize our posts but we use tags to provide non-hierarchical meta-information.
A blog is more than a collection of blog posts on a certain topic. A blog is never finished. Blogging is about caring by writing new posts, commenting on other blogs and connecting to the network.
Blogging is about caring not curating.
Author: Anne Helmond
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.