Digital Gardening

What do we do with all the information that surrounds us? The current call for curation requires strategies that can create meaningful exchange beyond efficient tagging and search algorithms. Just as a gardener takes the raw information of the botanist and applies it to creating an active landscape, cultivating the digital commons requires we move beyond manipulating raw information and create spaces that allow for fruitful exchange.

Whether it’s a natural garden cultivated to attract butterflies and song birds, or a well tended crop of tomatos and beans, we must be attentive to tending this digital landscape. Dr. Ted Friedman, Associate Professor of Communications at Georgia State University, is running an experiment in digital curation using Twitter to explore the interaction between live discussion, organization and the facilitation of published round tables to help contextualize and analyze information alive in the media sphere.

This project brings students into the active mix of culture beyond the walls of academia. It also allows the public, professional and creative worlds the ability to participate in building analytical discussions that address current cultural motifs. When Ted republishes the discussions through In Media Res, voices from outside the academic setting will find themselves with the rare opportunity to be published in an academic journal.

When faced with boundary breaking experiments it can be difficult to fully understand the impact of what’s being addressed. To really get a handle on what Ted will be looking at, it’s probably best to consult someone who’s with him everyday, like his cat Noisy. Here’s a note Noisy left on Ted’s blog regarding the experiment:

“Hi, I’m Noisy. I’m the middle of Ted and Kate’s three cats. I play Farmville and Frontierville every day. Won’t you be my neighbor? I give out lots of Mystery Gifts. Tell your friends about me, too, because I’m trying to build as big a network of neighbors as possible. It’s part of Ted’s research on social games. He’ll be writing about the experience in the upcoming In Media Res theme week on games. In Media Res is the online journal edited by Alisa Perren of the Georgia State University Program in Moving Image Studies. You can find it here.

Ted’s curating pages for upcoming 2011-12 In Media Res weeks on Jung, Play, Pop Music, Heroes and Shadows. Ted’s looking for contributors to all weeks from inside and outside of academia. Rock critics, public intellectuals, grad students, filmmakers – please all consider joining in.

It shouldn’t be too hard. Start by clicking here to find IMR-hashtagged conversations. Reply to anybody, adding the #IMR hashtag to the end of your tweet so that your tweet can be found by everybody else. Add a second hashtag like #Jung or an address like @katyperry if it might help people find what you have to say.

Ted’s going to curate the feeds on specific topics, then turn them into the Friday roundtable pages for the IMR weeks he edits.

At least, that’s the concept – we’ll see if it works in practice. You can help in the following ways:

– Become Facebook Friends with Ted Friedman and two of his cats: Pilot Squeaky and Noisy. The third cat, The Dude, doesn’t yet have a page – Facebook doesn’t approve of Firstname: The, Lastname: Dude. He may sit this out – he’s an introvert anyway.

– Become all of our Neighbors in both Farmville and Frontierville, if you play. If you don’t play, consider trying both.

– Contribute to In Media Res conversations by going here and adding to the conversation, hashtagging your tweet by including #IMR in your 140 characters.

– Contact Ted Friedman to discuss curating a day or editing a week. You can tweet him @tedfriedman or send an email to The standard format for the weeks Ted edits will be: Mon – Intro by Ted. Tues – 2nd curator. Wed – 3rd curator. Thurs – 4th curator. Fri – Roundtable (Ted will curate the week’s #IMR conversation.)

– If you’re at GSU, go to the informational meeting this Wednesday 10/20 – the info’s on comm-grads listserv

The idea is to hold this discussion in the Commons, in the sense developed by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in Commonweath. The Commons isn’t exactly public or private – it’s that Third Space that Jane Jacobs described in The Death and Life of American Cities. At its best, it can be a lot more than a Starbucks or mall food court.

This will be the explicit subject of some of the discussions, and the implicit context of all of them. On Facebook, we will treat this private company’s network as a resource fairly purchased with our advertising eyeballs (and probably overpriced, given the data mining they do now do with your info). Same goes for our use of Google, which I assume none of us could do without.

And the publishing side of this venture is In Media Res, an online journal created by Avi Santo with the help of Media Commons.

That’s the concept. If all of you pitch in, we can make it happen.”

Continue reading about Ted’s work on his site: Tedlog – Culture, Politics & Technology

Or join the conversation immediately by using the following hash tags on Twitter:

#IMR #FlowTV #Jung #Trickster #Shadow #Play #Food

About David

Specializing in the Unattended, Invisible and Overlooked
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