A few months ago, I made a post about the ‘New Age Of Curation’, and followed it up with a series of interview with weblog curators I particularly dug, including folks from film (Twitch) and from music (The Quietus).
However, there was one leftover interview which, regrettably, I’ve been sitting on for a bit (since late 2011 – sorry, interviewees!) And it’s with the creators of probably my favorite video game weblog in terms of curation – the Nintendo DS and 3DS-centric niche blog Tiny Cartridge.
Eric Caoili and JC Fletcher – contributors to sites like Joystiq and Gamasutra for their dayjobs – have been running the site since August 2008. To my mind, it continues to sparkle by featuring the underdiscussed and under-reported on Nintendo’s increasingly niche (sorry, Nintendo!) handheld platform.
Here’s what happened when I asked them a few questions about how they curate, and how they think about content when trying to showcase themselves out there on the wild, wild Internet:
Simon: What was the original reason and context for setting up Tiny Cartridge, and how would you describe the blog?
Eric Caoili: Since the early years of the Nintendo DS, we’ve had an interest, maybe even a talent, in finding obscure things about the system. For me, it started with participating in these massive forum threads for the portable at the Penny Arcade forums, seeing a stream of strange, exciting developments for what was at the the time a very unconventional and largely unloved console.
Following an initial post on the importance of so-called ‘princemakers’, and an interview with Twitch’s Todd Brown, we’re continuing a series of interviews with media-centric websites that do an amazing job of surfacing great art.
Further food for thought since last time – a brilliant talk/post from Topspin’s Ian Rogers that very much feeds into my discussions of trusted brands online. And, happily enough, Rogers is talking about music, which is the theme of the new ‘new age of curation’ interview, with The Quietus‘ John Doran.
Ever since I found the site a few months ago, I’ve been blown away by its eclectic, journalistic take on music in all forms. For example, on the front page right now there’s everything from a Wayne Hussey interview through a fascinating profile of Bjork and Jamie Vex’d talking name changes. Oh, and Suggs’ favorite albums.
So I caught up with Doran via email to discuss the site’s genesis — and for him to refute some of my presumptions about his excellent endeavor:
Simon: What was the original reason and context for setting up The Quietus, and how would you describe the website?
John Doran: [Back in 2008] my friend Sean Adams at Drowned In Sound asked me to pitch a website idea to him for a “classic rock” website. I said I already had a better idea if he wanted to see that.
My original post about what I opted to call ‘the new age of curation’ sparked a lot of really interesting discussion, both in the comments and separately.
In particular, game designer and Lost Garden blogger Daniel Cook composed a very thoughtful response over on Google+ which laid things out in infinitely more clinical, less fuzzy style.
Along the way, it uncovered some truths I was perhaps hiding from myself – that it’s ambient word of mouth, rather than any particular outlet, that really makes a piece of media blow up in today’s market.
However, in my reply to Daniel I think I inadvertently coined a phrase – ‘prince maker’ – that applies quite well to some of today’s most interesting niche blogs.
No one media outlet or blog is able to singlehandedly ‘break’ something into a media phenomenon nowadays. But with the kingmakers gone, there sure are a lot of websites – in video games, music, film, and beyond – which can provide a spark that helps fan the flames of notoriety.
And the best of these niche sites provide curation that can help illuminate art you would _never_ be able to find otherwise. So I’ll be conducting a short series interviewing some of the princemakers I admire the most, starting with Todd Brown of excellent ‘international, independent and cult film’ website Twitch.
I’ve been dipping into the site – which has regular columns on larger sites like Ain’t It Cool News – for a good few years now, and I think it exemplifies the curation and tastemaking that allow us all to find and enjoy the art that we all enjoy, day to day. Continue reading
I’m guessing that a lot of you think that now – right now – is a golden age of creation. And in many ways, it is. It’s never been a better time to make art of all kinds, from video games – my own art of choice – through books to filmed entertainment and beyond.
Sure, the massive media disintermediation spawned by the Internet has spawned a golden age for creators, at least for touching audiences directly. But finding great, sometimes underappreciated art is the thing we consumers need the most help on right now – especially because there’s so much of it out there, and so much of it that can be easily accessed.
That’s why, in many ways, this is the ‘Age Of Curation’, not the age of creation. And here’s five reasons why:
1. What people value the most is their time. And many of us have ever less of it. Those dashed-off hours in between school or work and family demand a certain focus. We need to know what’s good – and not necessarily just popular – out there.
2. A few decades back, you might have one to five choices each for newspapers, radio stations, TV, or films. Now you have millions for each medium. All of your spare time could be taken up with arranging your collection, or working out what art you might want to consume – let alone getting on with enjoying it!
3. Once upon a time, your taste in art was – to a certain extent – shaped by your limited choices. Now you can go MUCH further down the rabbit hole with complete ease. For example, there’s a website purely about English-language versions of visual novel games. This – while actually fascinating – is a compilation of other sources in a niche so narrow that wider websites may not ever mention it.