Wick Communications

Create or curate? How about report or merely repeat?

In Innovation on 28 Jan 2010 at 3:29 pm

So Apple released this new thingy that We All Apparently Must Have Today. You might have heard. The iPad looks like a big unwieldy iPhone to me, but more on that later.

First, I wanted to talk a bit about an enlightening blog post from a man named Robert Scoble, someone who has commented extensively on the iPad. If you don’t know who he is, chances are you don’t hang on the release of every new tech gizmo as if it were handed down from God himself and not merely Steve Jobs.

Scoble is a very bright guy (who lives in Half Moon Bay, by the way) evangelizing on the meaning of all things tech. He Tweets like nobody’s business. He blogs regularly. He is always jumping in front of whatever is new in the tech world (sorta like a digital Morganna, for those old enough to remember when she used to run out onto the field and kiss pro athletes. That’s him in the photo, by the way … getting the first iPhone from the Palo Alto Apple store several years ago. He’s an excitable man…)

Anyway, Scoble had a quandary this week. He was trying to decide whether to actually go to the Apple event announcing the iPad or sit at home and “curate” the event. And because he is Robert Scoble, he wanted us all to read his inner turmoil.

He decided against actually attending, and thus acting as a reporter. Instead he chose to act as a repeater, regurgitating any chirp he read on the Internet that he found important-ish.

You probably guessed that I find this a lazy way to reveal the news.

Scoble makes many valid points. He notes that, by going to the event, he would merely get what dozens of other journalists were getting. It’s hard to do any stellar reporting when you are in a crowd of other reporters at a managed event. Anyone who has ever covered the Super Bowl knows that. He also notes that he would miss the wisdom of the Internet crowd while he was staring slack-jawed at Steve Jobs (he once described himself as a “fanboi” of Jobs… whatever that means.) And I suppose that is true, too.

But here is what he misses and why professional news organizations can’t be replaced by a guy working his broadband connection at home. Good news organizations both create and curate. You need solid, unique reporting on the ground. And you need what has come to be known as “curation” back at the office. Retweeting and reposting is not journalism, it’s a digital game of telephone.

Look, reporting an event like Apple’s big unveiling is not likely to be fun and you aren’t likely to unearth anything new by attending. But that’s what we do here. Someone has to be counted on to actually cover the event, to size up the mood of things, to develop contacts for the next big event, to tell readers about any glitches that may have occurred in the presentation, etc., etc. And that someone is likely to be a paid member of the much-maligned mainstream media.

Rant over. Now go out and buy one of those iThingies.

— Clay

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