Monday, August 12, 2013 Auto-curating can’t mimic editor’s touch

Grumpy Cat (a naturally-frowning, brown-and-cream seal point cat) with the caption 'No' superimposed
At ALA Think Tank, an open Facebook group, a member asked about the pros and cons of using, a “custom newspaper” publishing site, to keep abreast of professional news.

I shared my perspective as someone who advocates the continuing importance of the information professional — the journalist and the librarian. (From the Grumpy Cat meme, blog readers can glean an insight into whether I believe has earned the name of “newspaper.”) takes the work out of curating. From what I’ve observed, it relies on Twitter hashtags and designated phrases to identify content and then auto-publishes links at specified intervals.

(For an example of what can go wrong when relying on “trigger words” to auto-curate relevant content, frequent traveler Steve Buttry drew attention to the @WhereIsButtry parody Twitter account. It was supposed to retweet any posts by Buttry that had to do with his traveling. But designated trigger words showed up in non-travel posts too and the auto-curation algorithm didn’t make the distinction.)

For a hobby or personal interest, fills a valid need to share your passion with others. But what I see as its chief drawback is that it eliminates the role of the editor. Using “filters” to screen sites or content contributors doesn’t even come close.

It takes a human perspective to evaluate content and decide which story will receive the most “weight” (or eliminate false leads like those non-travel posts retweeted by @WhereIsButtry). The professional editor separates opinion from objective reporting and labels it for readers.

In the same way that Google Search can’t replace a librarian, using an auto-curating/publishing platform like doesn’t eliminate the need for an editor to evaluate information’s credibility.

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