“Curating”- Make It Go Away

I’ll admit, this is a bit off-topic from the usual incisive blather in the space, but somebody needs to say it: Can we, individually and collectively, stop using the word “curating“?


I’ll venture that less than seven or eight years ago, “curate” was, in the mainstream, lexicon seldom used outside of discussion of museum or art collections and installations.

Somewhere along the line, it came to connote a responsibility-less middle ground of association with a particular project. Let me give you an example from the world of bluegrass music, which I know a little bit about. It used to be that a Bluegrass Festival (to paint in broad strokes) had Producers and Performers. Producers chose the venue, hired the bands, made sure the sound worked, paid the bands (mostly) and made or lost money on the show. Performers, on the other hand,  showed up, played their tunes, and got paid most of the time.

Then, suddenly, there were lineup’s “curated” by a well known performer. What did this mean? Well, that’s the beauty of it. Who knew (or knows)? Curated is less than “sponsored by”” and more than “served as a consultant””. It’s somewhere in the grey area that means “had something unspecified to do with it, but approves it, and is happy to have his/her name associated with it.”

An early usage example is found in here, an article about the Crossroads Music Festival, “curated by Eric Clapton”

Or this one about the 2012 Jomeokee Music & Arts Festival:

Jomeokee Music & Arts Festival features two side-by-side stages showcasing alternating sets of live music. On one stage, bluegrass legend Del McCoury has curated a lineup of top-notch bluegrass, string and Americana performances,

Understand this: Del McCoury is an American icon and he and his band are the ultimate gateway drug to the NewGrass, Jamgrass bluegrass music genre. Del McCoury can kick my ass and yours with the licks he has forgotten. But Del is 74, and the Jomeokee Music & Arts Festival is in North Carolina, and Del is either traveling or at home in Pennsylvania. What could it possibly mean-substantively I mean- that he “curated” one stage?

And, so, just since I’ve been curating the thoughts in this post (gotcha!– all I am doing is writing down stuff)), the following have been posted on Twitter (Users names have been deleted to protect the ignorant).

  1. @NPRUX I want your staff to curate. I want to see what my friends actually listened to. And perhaps profile pages listing our
  2. Still looking for new film writers as ever, particularly to curate/comment on indie/animation/weird/shorts. My thanks for a RT, come at me.

    Using the elearning RiteTag Report – to curate & choose hashtags with re…: http://youtu.be/5CyJA9DgH1I  via @youtube
  3. “If every1 can speak, to whom should I listen?” and “… how can I get heard?” #content @scoopit via @_Orientar_ http://sco.lt/8vqqBd 
  4. ‘We don’t just CURATE the cool, we CREATE it’ – make your own audience and publish/broadcast to them. The future?http://yinnyang.co.uk/2013/01/well-be-back/ …
  5. Create or Curate#Pinterest #Tumblr #Blogspot #Facebook #Google+ We’ll show you ours if you show us yours…..
    Curate #hashtags?
    You get the point. And, I am not the first to raise the issue, nor will I be the last. see “when you say “curate”, i hear “punch me in the throat”
    But, it is getting out of hand, so let me be the latest to cry out in the wilderness against this practice.

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