Blogging is About Caring Not Curating

Filed as Features on November 4, 2007 8:30 pm

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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.

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  1. By Ming posted on November 4, 2007 at 11:50 pm
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    Thank you for this insightful rebuttle of a post:)

    I fell enlightened about my blog after reading this, My blog has been constantly (over)evolving over the years, and i think the main reason for this is.. i don’t know what blogging really is about:)

    As an artist myself, blogging as a ‘practice’ resonates with me:)

    ps: I think in the free speach nature of the internet, rebuttles are important:)

    Reply

  2. By Ian posted on November 5, 2007 at 6:31 am
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    I think maybe you need to qualify this with the word “successful”. So that:

    “A successful blog is more than a collection of blog posts”

    But I also think that being someone who cares about a subject and someone who acts like a curator are mutually exclusive roles.

    Possibly because of the topic that I blog about I’ve found that most readers seem to use my blog as a catalogue of old posts. But I certainly care about my topic and I care about curating my blog.

    But then maybe that’s why my blog isn’t very successful.

    Reply

  3. By Anne Helmond posted on November 5, 2007 at 2:00 pm
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    Ming: I think that is the power of blogs, they keep on evolving over time. Not only do you write new posts or expand on previous posts, you might also change your design, clean up your sidebar.
    It is nice to receive a comment from someone who blogs about art! I think your blog is a really good example of “how the internet is bridging the gap between collector and artist” (as you mention on your about page). Not only are you presenting your own work, you are also connecting to other artists and artist communities. This is also interesting for collectors who can now see connections between artists.

    Ian: It also depends on your definition of successful. If your blog is a great source of reference material for people I would consider it successful. What I mean though is that blogs offer more than directories, they allow for commenting and community building. That is what blogs make so potentially successful.

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  4. By regine debatty posted on November 5, 2007 at 2:41 pm
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    i’m sorry that you mis-interpreted my words. i said that my personal way of blogging had sometimes be compared by other people to curating. this doesn’t certainly makes a curator of any blogger. i would never dream of generalizing and speaking on behalf of other bloggers.

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  5. By Ian posted on November 5, 2007 at 4:10 pm
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    Yeah, I’d agree with that, Anne.

    I also agree with you that it depends on one’s definition of success.

    Oh, and I obviously meant to say that: “…being someone who cares about a subject and someone who acts like a curator AREN’T mutually exclusive roles.”

    Reply

  6. By Anne Helmond posted on November 6, 2007 at 10:14 am
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    Thank you for commenting and clearing that up. The “is a blogger a curator” question was more a rhetorical question to get me, and other bloggers, to think about blogging. I didn’t mean it as a generalization either but as food for thought. I thoroughly enjoyed your talk because it made me think about blogging from a different perspective.

    Reply

  7. Are you a Blog Curator or Caregiver? « Lorelle on WordPressDecember 19, 2007 at 6:49 am
  8. By Chris Marshall | Martial Development posted on December 19, 2007 at 3:52 pm
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    Curator, to me, implies a very high standard of care on a particular topic. Frankly, I would like to see more curators on the web and fewer hasty opinions.

    Reply

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