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You can’t read everything

In explaining why he created the ultra-minimal website Today’s Guardian, Phil Gyford noted…

When I read a newspaper I’m holding a coherent package of news. “Here,” it says, “is what you should know today.” Once I’ve read it — or, at least, flicked through it — I know I’m up to date. I don’t need to read anything until tomorrow’s newspaper, which will catch me up with everything that happened in the intervening time. And while I’m reading the paper I know how much there is remaining — the pages in my right hand — and I know when I’m done.

This is very much not the case with a news website. There is no sense of an ending. There is no way I can be sure I’ve at least decided whether to read “everything”. There is, on most websites, no way I can be sure I’ve seen all that’s been published since I last visited.

And that may be social media’s biggest problem. There’s just too much out there. You can’t read everything, and there’s now a nagging feeling that you’re missing something.

That’s why (as Frank Roche and Paul Hebert have both noted on occasion) curation is so important. We need editors.

I think there’s a real need for this inside organizations as well. As more and more companies adopt social media tools internally, there’s a real value in someone who can pull together the best of information and organize it in logical or easy-to-navigate ways.

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