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From Famine to Feast

Does the surplus of online content prove the ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ cliché?

In the content economy, inflation is our biggest worry. We recently blogged about the curse of group buying, and how the overwhelming number of deals whizzing into our inboxes each day erode the value of each individual site.

Extrapolate this theory to encompass online content in general and you’ve got a slightly worrying state of affairs when it comes to creativity. Will the Michelangelos of this generation be lost in the cacophony of paint-by-numbers?

Seth Godin wrote recently:

‘When I was a kid at summer camp, a letter was as precious as gold (or perhaps candy). If you got five letters in a week, you were rich. Most of the time, we stood by the mailroom, plaintively waiting to see if there was some sort of message from the outside world – only to walk away disappointed.

‘Back home, missing a TV show was out of the question. If you didn’t see this episode of Mannix or Batman, it was likely you’d never get a chance, ever again.

‘And so we came to treat incoming data as precious. A lost email was a calamity. Reading everything in your RSS feed was essential. What if I miss something?

‘A new generation, one that grew up with a data surplus, is coming along. To this cohort, it’s no big deal to miss a tweet or ten, to delete a blog from your reader or to not return a text or even a voice mail. The new standard for a vacation email is, “When I get back, I’m going to delete all the email in my box, so if it’s important, please re-send it next week.”

‘This is what always happens when something goes from scarce to surplus. First we bathe in it, then we waste it.’

A generation of content wasters

Luckily, within this new generation of ‘content wasters’ is a passionate group of content curators; people who see the need for an online method of organisation and preservation, who sort the gems from the grit.

My Modern Met is a site formed on the belief that creativity needs an online home. A ‘community of intelligent people who want to be in the know’, the site serves as an online destination for the babies we don’t want to throw out with the bathwater.

My Modern Met – and other sites like it – could be the next generation in content curation. Sure, your internet browser can recommend sites for you, your iTunes Genius bar can show you music you might like and Amazon.com can (pretty successfully) predict books you’ll want to buy, but there’s no substitute for human passion when it comes to capturing content, dusting it off and displaying it under shiny lights to show its true beauty.

An algorithm can only go so far in identifying true creativity – it’s up to the rest of us to pick up the slack and become content curators for the generations to come.

 

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