Writing is about sharing knowledge
Writing in 3500 BC made History. Literally: when Sumerians hammered the first clay tablet, mankind entered History. Knowledge could now be shared and stored, beyond the power of voice and traditions.
Over the next millenniums, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Chinese lowered the barrier through innovations such as papyrus, alphabet and paper. Writing evolved from its initial, strictly practical usage (accounting) to most human activities: science, law, art and religion. However, the curators of the ancient and famous libraries of Nineveh or Alexandria did not succumb under information overload: they could only collect a few hundred thousands items, at most (a Google search on, say, beer, yields a million times more results). And, however time defining it was, king Hammurabi’s code was never RT-ed: it weighted hundreds pounds.
For a long time indeed, writing stayed a “one to few” art.
Extending the audience
Copying texts, both for perpetuation and distribution, has always been an act of paramount importance. Gutenberg’s groundbreaking mechanical movable type printing (c. 1450) changed the world. Enter the Printing Revolution and the Renaissance. Written content could now be massively distributed. Ideas could be shared on a large scale. Education flourished. Scientific, cultural and politic revolutions would follow.
Writers had gained the power of “one to many”.
Web 2.0: new power, new challenge!
The web 1.0 was a magnificent evolution of printing: moving away from its physical media, content became ubiquitous. But “the one to many” paradigm survived until the next quantum leap: the web 1.0 lowered the barrier to content access, its 2.0 evolution lowered the barrier to content generation. Whoever can read can now also produce and distribute content: Welcome to the “many to many” era!
Direct consequence #1: more democracy! Direct consequence #2: content explosion, information overload, quality drowned in quantity: more content was produced last year than between the first clay tablet and the birth of Facebook, cumulated. This new power comes with a new challenge: improving the signal to noise ratio, making sense of it.
Expression by curation
While selecting, organizing and sharing content (aka content curation) has always existed, the Web 2.0 just now calls for it. The mission of curation tools is to keep crushing down the barrier to expression, not with a “let’s some of us produce more content” mantra, but with a “let us all produce quality media” vision.
It may be easier to type on a keyboard than to carve a stone, but it’s not any easier today than 4000 years ago to be inspired or to have talent. And one key resource even disappeared: time! I love the web 2.0, I want to be part of it, to contribute, to express myself. But I have no motivation to add mediocre content to the information deluge; and I have no talent or time to create ex nihilo masterpieces.
The solution is to fuel passion with curation. A solution and an opportunity!
Let the passionate people dig into the infinite content and tell their stories by electing, editing and transmitting their best of the web. Quality is a subjective matter – and this is an inalienable prerequisite to the richness of our world -, but passion is the best vector to it. Curation is expression, let’s offer the tools which make it simple for everyone.
Let’s open the era of “everybody to everybody – with passion”. Information overload will not increase, quality and freedom of expression will.