May 15, 2014

What if you could CURATE the search engine results when someone googled your name?

Couldn't help but be a little amused by another fresh-from-the-headlines reminder of how much the word curating has infiltrated the English language. A legal scholar's op-ed in today's New York Times invoked the term when referring to the European court ruling in Google v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos. (An interesting case, worth reading about, curating moving images aside.)

We started the semester with a microclip from Lena Dunham's HBO series Girls:

Here the girls and boy are actually talking about the art world, where curators traditionally reside. What I didn't know at the time was what reported on March 15, 2012:  "To coincide with the premiere of her new HBO show Girls on April 15, Dunham has joined forces with BAM to curate a program of eight films entitled 'Hey Girlfriend.' She's chosen some pretty cool films and has gotten some pretty cool guest [sic] to show up. . . ."  Cool. Blogs quoted the BAMcinématek press released, which quoted the first-time film curator saying "I'm thrilled to work with BAM to curate a series of films with this kind of scope and insight into girl-on-girl action."

Now of course we see the c word used in all kinds of ways, casual and otherwise. Exhibits A and B, these trade press books.

A CNBC commentator recently nailed it in his complaint about this season's overused words.
Curate. Curating used to be a word we only used in museums. Somewhere in the last year 'curate' has morphed into a word people are using anytime they pick something and want to sound like it's more than just picking something. "Our musicologist will now curate you a playlist that's perfect for your evening playing Yahtzee." "The travel itinerary was carefully curated to help you avoid other Americans." It's great we're respecting the lost art of the mix tape, thank you. But unless you put that Picasso on the wall, you didn't curate. -- Brian Sullivan, "Hack This Conversation," March 5, 2014.
And here's an excerpt from the op-ed in question, Jonathan Zittrain's "Don’t Force Google to ‘Forget,'New York Times, May 14, 2014.
The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that Europeans have a limited “right to be forgotten” by search engines like Google. According to the ruling, an individual can compel Google to remove certain reputation-harming search results that are generated by Googling the individual’s name.
. . . . What if search engine companies were to think more creatively about how such searches might work? In 2007, Google admirably experimented in this area . . .  If search engines allowed for such comments generally, they might be able to give you more influence over the information about you online — without giving you the power to censor. Perhaps querying someone’s name would result in an initial page of search results in which some form of curating was permitted for people sharing that name; the subsequent pages of results would provide the unvarnished material that a regular search now generates.
Seems that a word that recently found liberal (and illiberal) use in the vernacular has curiously re-migrated back into the studied vocabulary of this Harvard professor, but unironically retained its vernacular sense.

Perhaps the curating of everything is just a passing fad. Perhaps the word has absorbed this 'whatever' usage for the foreseeable future. Or, perhaps, this irony will continue to be noted by the ironists among us -- as when used scare quotes thusly in its 2013 headline Usher To "Curate" Macy's 4th Of July Fireworks, and in its caption for this photo of the artist:

This is a picture of Usher "curating" fireworks. (Courtesy of Macy's)

We live in a curated culture where this advertisement --

-- co-exists with this great explanation of film curating by MoMA's Jenny He (for!)

Selection, arrangement, juxtaposition, contextualization, presentation.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.