in Fun & Random

Curation A Misnomer

Conductor OrchestraI have a burning desire to share this nuance…

“Curation” is a misnomer.

Curation has become a buzzword in the digital age. Amidst information overload, there is a perceived premium on the ability of an organization to sift through abundance and surface value for clarity, innovation and competitive advantage.


There’s often an essence of democracy when people talk about curation. They often aspire to an organization’s ability to pinpoint the best ideas from within.

Those are all great ideas, even if only loosely connected or ambiguous. But curating has a contradictory legacy.

Two smart people I recently spoke with — one an art historian and the other a distinguished business-school professor — trashed the idea of curation in this business context. They argued the role of curator is getting twisted and confused.

Both recommended investing time to actually meet and interact with a true curator, such as from a museum or the arts.

In that world, according to these two scholars,  being a curator is not about crowdsourcing or democratically surfacing the best ideas, nor is it about innovation or competitive advantage.

The role of curator is about about control (sometimes totalitarian), oversight and expression of a single vision.

(Photo: Alfonso Salgueiro)