Curating the ‘thing’

Things Magazine (which, by any measure, has been a fantastic blog for nigh a decade) recently mused on image-curation blogs and the coming demise of the ‘thing’. I’ve read the post several times–Things posts demand as much–and while the concept is compelling, I’m not sure I agree.
Things takes to task the continuous nature of websites that focus on visual presentation. To them, the individual item is losing its individuality: “There is no space for contemplation, just clicking, scrolling and flicking. This leaves the solitary object somewhat adrift, only embodying meaning when it is juxtaposed or collated or slotted into a larger collection.”
Certainly, the web lends itself to curation, and good curators stand out. Witness the collections of news links on Drudge; the photography saturation of The Big Picture or the Ai-designed Air America; and the linklog happiness of old-school blogs like It’s a presentation style that Things acknowledges works well, even for them.
Where Things gets upset is in the loss of isolation. Because unlike, say, an art gallery, a visual blog or tumblr feed lacks the space constraints that force tight curating and clever presentation. Art on a wall gets both its own white space and a finite amount of visual competition. Visitors know the show has n number of items, and that each one is there for a reason, and that they should spend an accordant amount of time on each piece.
Meanwhile, viewers of a visually oriented blog are disinclined to pause, because there’s always more, always another item behind the link, waiting for exploration. And with the invitation to sprawl–and to publish frequently; for frequent posts generate traffic–the curation can be more about inclusion than selection.
Still, I don’t think the synopsis that “the ‘thing’ is in danger of imminent extinction” is accurate. People will always pause to explore and enjoy that which is worth exploring and enjoying. The difficulty lies in quantity and curating. The blogs that get this will continue to thrive, and the items within them will find the audiences they deserve.
This is a cross-post from aiaio.