All we need is love. The two thoughts are related.
In the last couple of days I familiarized myself with the work of Kevin Kelly, who helped launch Wired in 1993 and authored Out of Control in 1995, and Clay Shirky whose new book Here Comes Everybody is due in stores at the end of the month.
My inquiry originated with the question in the title here - do we need editors in new media? To me the obvious answer is yes. Steve Rubel talked digital curators, online.
Yes because we need to design smart ways to save time navigating a page and a site -- as in the case of the new FastCompany.com. How do I know what is important on that site? Everything looks the same with slightly different naming. Not enough for a time-starved audience.
Yes because although we are smarter than I, the demand for some intelligent guidance and selection is worth a lot. I seek the same experience on the site that I seek in the magazine -- expert advice, guidance, thought provoking questions. Followed up by reactions and discussion.
That is why editors (and digital curators) are important.
In a recent post titled The Bottom is Not Enough, Kelly gets into much more detail about the wisdom of crowds and the need for central design. In his book, Out of Control, he delves more into the new biology of machines, social systems and the economic world. Some selected maxims:
The central act of the coming era is to connect everything to everything.
The only organization capable of unprejudiced growth, or unguided learning, is a network.
A mind cannot possibly consider anything beyond what it can measure or calculate; without a body it can only consider itself. Without the interruptions of hellos from the eye, ear, tongue, nose, and finger, the evolving mind huddles in the corner picking its navel.
We don't have a word for learning and teaching at the same time, but our schooling would improve if we did.
One can imagine the future shape of companies by stretching them until they are pure network. It will be hard at times to tell who is working for whom.
A company cannot be a learning company without also being a teaching company.
What's love got to do with it? Everything.
"We have always loved one another. We're human," said Shirky at the recent Supernova conference, "It's something we're good at. But up until recently, the radius and half-life of that affection has been quite limited. With love alone, you can get a birthday party together. Add coordinating tools, and you can write an operating system."
"In the past, we could do little things for love, but big things, big things required money. Now, we can do big things for love." Here Comes Everybody is about the power of organizing without organizing.
If print journalism falters as publishing methods are transformed through the Web, the power of collecting, editing, and publishing smart versions of the knowledge and information available is only going to be more critical moving forward.
Editing is hard. It requires a commitment to making choices. It's about what you leave out as much as it is about what you put in. With experience we gain the ability to discern what is core to the central story. In recent years we've invented sidebars, corollary tips, and captions to help tell that story more fully without detracting from the central flow. With the Internet, we've added a third dimension -- depth.
Each link is an opportunity to start a new conversation. In blog posts, we have the ability to place many thoughts from different people in one context. Our readers gather in the comments of a post in direct relation to their interest level and need. Many of the messages that come from these media circulate within the social groups that are most interested in them. Then the thoughts resurface evolved and ready to be polished and represented in a new way -- by an editor.
Are you an editor? Why? Why not? Is there a digital curator job in your future?