In audio engineering, the signal to noise ratio is important. To put it very (too) simply, it is a compromise: how much noise do I let in so that I can get enough signal. If you think of a microphone, the voice would be the signal and the hiss would be the noise.
Ironically, when the world became digital, signal to noise became less important than it was in the analogue days: the new digital equipment needed very little signal and could get rid of most of the noise.
I say it is ironic because, at the same time, and because of the same shift to digital, the world was inundated by noise: everyone could produce music, everyone could publish books, everyone could write blogs, everyone was entitled to an opinion.
At the risk of a meta overdose, I think I do all of the above.
So was the analogue world better? The world where only some could be heard because only some got to choose? The world of gatekeepers. The world where someone had to pick us, the world where we could not pick ourselves… was that better?
I don’t think so. We may have opened the floodgates to all the noise we’re capable of producing, but it is also the first time all the signal has a chance.
Curation has become more important than ever in our current ocean of noise. So whom do we trust as curators? I think, to a higher or lesser degree, we’re all curators. We compile lists in our heads of people who have earned our trust, and we recommend them to others. We find patterns. We tell stories. About creatives and about curators. And the signal carries.
There has never been as much quality as there is now, because all quality has a voice now. Yet there has never been as much crap as there is now either, because crap also got a voice when we struck that deal.
And so the responsibility lies with us to produce better and better signals and to earn more and more trust. The noise isn’t going to get any better or any less abundant, but the signal can, and it is up to us.