What it means to Curate Cool

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my work lately….What I do, how I do it–you know, mundane stuff.

Only in my case the mundane stuff isn’t so mundane. It’s quite literally the stuff stories are made of and that’s what makes it fascinating.

Professionally I am a content creator-curator.

I work in the world of the Web, where bits of minutae flow across my gunwhales at speeds that far surpass most half-a-mil, high-performance automobiles on a looping race track.

On any given day, I rapidly parse, separate, aggregate, edit, reassemble and regurgitate exactly what has come over the sides of my tiny ship, into the stuff that makes sense of people’s lives.

I get paid to tell stories that make sense on a deadline-and that’s cool.

What has changed in my industry is how we build and tell stories (the medium) and how we disseminate them-and in my purview that’s all a result of the evolutionary phases of the Internet, in its most base form.

For illustration sake (and here’s the part where your writer apologizes for the baseness-but it proves my point) we’ll use one of the biggest Internet industries as the example: Porn.

The first phase of the Internet’s evolution was where Content came into its own. The  initial “killer ap” of the Internet was, well, pornography-and even porn is content.

Next came Commerce – this is where the subscription models and the Amazons of the world came to reside. This phase turned porn into the multi-million dollar business it is today.  (XXX it’s not go look at link)

Finally  Community arrived.  Now instead of exchanging nekkid pictures of one another over instant message or in a chat room, we share real life “porn” in the form of self promoting pictures on Facebook, Twitter (see also: Congressman Wiener’s unfortunate DM gaffe) and The hundreds of other social sites cropping up on a daily basis.   (Btw: Anyone now what ever happened to ChatRoulette??)

Sure, all these social platforms have rules against posting offensive content and they all enforce them as best they can- but as long as the human animal continues to seek approval and companionship through this thing called the Web, people will push the limits of risqué.

But here’s where things get interesting: a new phase of Internetolution is just beginning — the  phase of Curation.

In this phase the user-viewer demands a more transparent way to communicate with, interact  with and borrow from brands, public figures and storytellers. They look to on-screen tastemakers to identify with and cultivate cool and they borrow (and purchase) the things they see that make those creators who they are.

The curation phase stands to change the way we purchase, interact and consume information online. It stands to change our relationships with each other in a way we haven’t seen before. Curation is the cultivation of cool and it unifies the phases of the Internet by bringing a seamless, integrated experience, both on and offline, to the user-viewer.  (And P.S.: For those Puritans out there–curation is killing porn simply because it’s forcing major companies like Facebook and Twitter to clamp down harder on those who break the rules of decency)

By tapping into the emotional connections user-viewers have with the media we consume (regardless of how we consume it) creator-curators can engage and influence user behavior and consumption in the real world and even enhance human contact.

Humans are social animals–we want to relate to one another in physical and emotional ways. A television show, an article, a book, a movie, a webisode, a podcast, a radio show–they are all essentially curated worlds that engage the emotions of user/viewer and allows them the opportunity to take on the physical characteristics (a dress, a couch, a haircut) of those characters to define who they are (and who are not) to the rest of the world. Creator-curators bridge the gap between the user-viewer and the story.

This is the new, transactional storytelling. Connecting user-viewers to the story by allowing them to directly curate their own identity and create a deeper more seamless integration of brand and behavior is the new “killer app” of the Internet.    Curation, like any shift in an industry is picking winners and losers–and transactional storytelling is that destructive (and constructive force).

This is where this blog lives. I promise, if you stick with me,  it will be fun.

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Abigail Bassett

Abigail Bassett is the Executive Editor at CNTRL MEDIA, LLC. She is also a freelance content creator and curator whose work has appeared in publications like Forbes, Fortune, Automobile, Motor Trend, Money Magazine and on CNN. Her passion is telling unique stories using a variety of media and taking the visitor places that they have never been–whether it’s into the cockpit of a rare supercar, inside an exclusive home or hotel, or behind the scenes of a fashionable event. She is also a Yoga Alliance Registered 200-hour yoga teacher. She teaches at a number of public, private, and corporate venues, around Los Angeles, CA.

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