SASM 014 – Cultivating Curating’s Promise and Storytelling’s Evolution with Steve Rosenbaum

Steve RosenbaumI brought Steve Rosenbaum on with me for this episode of the show and … man!

I’m not sure why I sound tired near the end, but it’s probably because Steve overwhelmed my intellect with his awesomeness and original thinking.

To give you some context (like any good curator would), here are some of Steve’s bonafides:

  • Author of a popular book called Curation Nation
  • Had a TEDxTalk about curating
  • Has been granted the title “Entrepreneur At Large” for New York City’s Economic Development Corporation.
  • Is the CEO of
  • Contributor for Forbes, The Huffington Post, Mashable, and other prominent places
  • Winner of an Emmy for his documentary film 7 Days In September about the attacks of 9/11
  • Creator of the MTV show UNfiltered

Without all that to his name, he’s still an impressive fellow. If you’re even remotely interested in curating, storytelling, entrepreneurship, or dealing with the fire hose of the Internet, this will be like brain candy to you.

Where else are you going to get original thoughts like this one?

Robots don’t curate. Robots don’t write music, they don’t write poetry, they don’t write plays, they don’t paint pictures, they’re not artists, and they don’t choose sophisticated, interesting collections of ideas. – Steve Rosenbaum

There will be more groovy curators on Smart and Simple Matters in the future, but I’m super stoked that Steve was the first. Let me know in the comments if you have other insightful curators that you think I should bring on the show.

What You’ll Learn

Besides knowing whether there will ever be an algorithm that can replace me (*gulp*), you’ll get all this out of our chat.

In this episode you’ll learn about:

  • How 800 people begged Steve to tell their story … and the simple mind shift that sparked it.
  • The primary reason that curation came to be (it’s not what you think).
  • Whether you should be a curator or find curators you can trust to filter the Internet fire hose.
  • How to look spiffy in your physical clothing and digital clothing.
  • The big change on the horizon of how content gets into our brains.
  • If people truly want more information or generally believe that less is more.
  • How many hours a day I curate (and what I spend it on).
  • A shocking stat about employees checking email in the middle of the night …
  • … And the crazy relationship between sleep, email, and the curating mindset.
  • The current and future balance of power between content creators, distribution platforms, and curators.
  • The responsibility that curators have to their craft and to their terminology.

Resources and Items Mentioned in This Episode Include:


  • [02:13] The two consistent themes of Steve’s work over the years
  • [05:00] Steve’s family history and how he got into curating
  • [08:26] Crowdsourcing some amazing stories
  • [11:09] The general philosophy of curating (according to Steve)
  • [15:12] A more narrow scope of the curating landscape
  • [20:03] The relationship between email, sleep, and curating
  • [21:14] How businesses – large or small – can tell better stories through video
  • [26:38] The current and future balance of power between content creators, distribution platforms, and curators
  • [33:55] The backlash against the word “curating”

Awesome Ways to Subscribe to the Show

If you’re not already subscribed for automatic notifications of a new show, please do so with one of the links below.


I’m Grateful for Your iTunes Reviews!

If you enjoyed this specific episode or the Smart and Simple Matters show in general, I always appreciate when people go to the iTunes page and leave an honest review. Every single review is a huge help and received with gratitude!

If you want to make me incredibly thankful, like the people who have recently left an iTunes review, here are the four quick steps (assuming iTunes is already installed):

  1. Visit the Smart and Simple Matters iTunes page here:
  2. Click the blue button on the left labeled “View in iTunes” below the cover art of the show
  3. When iTunes loads, scroll down below the “Customer Reviews” section and click the link labeled “Write a Review”
  4. Write a review with whatever title you like, whatever length you have time for, and give the show an honest rating. If you don’t think it deserves five stars, don’t rate it as a five star show.

And if you have someone or something you’d like us to cover on an upcoming show, tell us in the comments below.

8 Responses to SASM 014 – Cultivating Curating’s Promise and Storytelling’s Evolution with Steve Rosenbaum

  1. Denise says:

    Joel, I see the amount of content available to me as a challenge as well, in a good way. I do want less information, but I like the challenge of searching for the best.

    When you’re curating information, what is it about the content that makes you want to curate it? What would you say makes something curate-worthy? As a writer, I’m interested. What would make someone save content I create.

    (excellent podcast, btw!)

    • I dig the question Denise. This is totally going to be the start for a full blog post down the road. So what makes me curate something that another person has created? The (very) rough high-level process looks like this:

      1) Does the content fit into any of the categories that I currently curate (e.g. blogging resources, food / nutrition or the meaning of life)?
      2) Did the content make me think in a new way – big or small – provide a new skill, strategy, or mindset, or did it make me snap to attention to start following someone new online?
      3) Was it super high quality or impactful?
      4) Would I want to reconsume the content a second or third time? (that’s always a bonus)
      5) Would this be valuable – either right now or for an anticipated future want/need – or someone I know?
      6) Is this the kind of content that disrupts my world view and makes me want to share it on social media?

      If the answer to some, most, or all of those questions is “yes,” then it gets curated.

  2. Shanna Mann says:

    Wow! This is so great. Thank you for introducing me to this guy, Joel.

    I definitely agree we need to ensure, somehow, that the word ‘curation’ doesn’t get watered down and bastardized. I just wish I knew what that was, though.

  3. Erin says:

    I loved this episode! There were so many interesting topics you guys discussed, like curating vs. following a curator, how curating is something only humans do, and being a curator in a particular area (instead of curating all things all the time). The conversation gave me a ton to think about. Thanks to both you and Steve!

    • I hope we gave you a couple of things to act on and not just a few things to think about, Erin. I know I tweaked a couple of steps in my very long curating process as a result of speaking with Steve. I also tweaked my definition of it to include a reference to adding context based on Steve’s commentary. How could it not have been in there in the first place though?!

  4. Great chat, Joel. I read Rosenbaum’s Curation Nation with the past year, and I really loved it. He’s got an incredible way of looking at the vast amounts of information available on the web today.

    I think the fact that we have to include the human element in our information sorting is quite fascinating. Google keeps trying more and more to model their algorithm after human behaviors, but it’s never going to be perfect. What’s more, it will never convey a personality in the way that a human curator can.

    I also like the distinction between the professional curator and the person who just wants to find what they want on the web. The needs of these two separate types of people differ drastically, and most conversations that I hear about this topic seem to simply lump everyone into the same classification.

    • Hey Michael,

      I’ve been guilty of lumping professional and “curious curators” into the same category. With the insight of guys like Steve, I continue to evolve my perspective on curating and who I can help with my curatorial point of view. By the way, I didn’t know “curatorial” was something I could say until Steve said it. Makes total sense though because just as a journalist can have an editorial point of view, a curator can have a curatorial point of view.

      The more I read your stuff, the more I understand that you have deep respect and knowledge about curating that could help a ton of folks too. Keep up the good work on your end too, bud.

Leave a reply

No Trackbacks Yet!

Back to Top | Resources I Love | About | Contact Me | Disclaimer | Commenting Policy | Website RSS | Podcast RSS | All content is UNCopyright

Hosted with strength by BlueHost and proudly using the Headway Theme