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Recently I’ve been reading a book by Steven Rosenbaum called Curation Nation: Why the Future of Content is Context (McGraw Hill, 2011).

Rosenbaum’s premise is based on two ideas: “First, curation is about adding value from humans who add their qualitative judgment to whatever is being gathered and organized. And second, there is both amateur and professional curation, and the emergence of amateur or pro-sumer curators isn’t in any way a threat to professionals.”

Further, “curation is about selection, organization, presentation, and evolution. While computers can aggregate content, information, or any shape or size of data, aggregation without curation is just a big pile of stuff that seems related but lacks a qualitative organization….Curation is an exhilarating, fast-moving, evolving idea that addresses two parallel trends: the explosive growth in data, and our need to be able to find information in coherent, reasonably contextual groupings.”

Is it just me, or does this scream LIS career opportunity?

Information Professionals as Data Curators?
In an excellent overview by Rohit Bhargava in his “Manifesto/Job Description: Content Curator,” he writes:

In the near future, experts predict that content on the web will double every 72 hours. The detached analysis of an algorithm will no longer be enough to find what we are looking for. To satisfy the people’s hunger for great content on any topic imaginable, there will need to be a new category of individual working online. Someone whose job it is not to create more content, but to make sense of all the content that others are creating. To find the best and most relevant content and bring it forward. The people who choose to take on this role will be known as Content Curators.

The future of the social web will be driven by these Content Curators, who take it upon themselves to collect and share the best content online for others to consume and take on the role of citizen editors, publishing highly valuable compilations of content created by others. In time, these curators will bring more utility and order to the social web. In doing so, they will help to add a voice and point of view to organizations and companies that can connect them with customers – creating an entirely new dialogue based on valued content rather than just brand created marketing messages.

Redeploying Skills for New Career Opportunity
Essentially, all of the skills that LIS professionals have been deploying within libraries, organizations, special collections, etc., will be in increasing demand in a new online environment, not necessarily connected to a library infrastructure of any sort.

Some of this work is likely to be done for content organizations, some likely to be done for companies whose products/services are based on presenting only the best resources/information on a topic, some done on a freelance or independent basis where individuals with recognized subject expertise create monetizable value by aggregating the best information on an in-demand topic.

At this point, content curation sounds like an opportunity with more questions than answers. What’s the difference between data curation and content curation? Who’s doing this type of work and for whom? Are any LIS graduates going into this field? What exactly do job descriptions look like, and how would we sell our LIS skills to hiring managers? What, if any, additional skills would make us more competitive candidates when applying for these jobs?

It would be great to find more information out about this possible career opportunity – is anyone working in this area yet? In the meantime, I’m going to continue to track the field.