To create or curate? That is the Apple question

I’m torn.

I really want to be sitting at Steve Jobs’ feet again on Wednesday as he introduces whatever it is he’s introducing. Largely rumored to be not just a slate of some kind, but a new Apple TV, a new iPhone update, and new iLife suite.

If you’ve been living under a rock or in a coma for the past few months this has thrown the tech press into a tizzy. Right now on Techmeme just an overheard item from Steve Jobs has the top place (who cares if it really is true or not, as long as it has the words “Steve Jobs” and “Apple” in the headline).

Don’t believe me? Look at my list of 500 of the world’s top tech press. In between messages about football this weekend has been tons of speculation about Apple.

But that got me thinking “should I go to Wednesday’s event or not?” I thought I’d put it up for a vote, so here’s the pro’s and the cons. But deeper than that, I wanted to show there’s value in curation, not just in creating content. Let’s talk about that later more.

PROS OF GOING TO APPLE EVENT AND “CREATING CONTENT”:

1. I’ll get to see the new device a few seconds before Engadget will get to upload pictures of it to its live stream.
2. I’ll get elbowed by CNN in a fight to get close to Steve Jobs for an interview that won’t be exclusive anyway.
3. I’ll get a free donut or bagel and some lukewarm coffee from Starbucks.
4. I’ll be able to tell my grandchildren “I was there when Steve Jobs introduced the iSlate.”
5. I’ll be able to argue with Katie Cotton, head of Apple PR, about whether I can use a Google Nexus One to Qik live video out to all of you.
6. I’ll be able to hang out with the God of Gadgets, Ryan Block, who co-runs GDGT along with Peter Rojas, the guy who started Engadget.
7. I’ll be able to beg Walt Mossberg for a ticket to All Things D, the conference he does every year with Kara Swisher.
8. Speaking of Kara, if I’m there she’ll interview me with her Flip cam and ask me a funny question, usually along the lines of “how did you sneak by Katie Cotton?”
9. I’ll be able to race the entire press corp down to the Apple store which has decent wifi and try to upload a video from there, since Apple doesn’t give you good wifi at these events because they want you to see the device first in glorious HD from ABC or CNN, not from some blurry Qik cam. Seriously, at the Apple event I was at you aren’t allowed to use video devices in the first few rows, so there’s no chance to get decent video. And, anyway, unlike at Google, Apple will have a glorious HD version of its own up on its own website within a few hours anyway.
10. After working my behind off trying to get SOMETHING that one of the other press people won’t get (yeah, right Scoble, you’re going to get an exclusive that CNN or BBC or New York Times won’t? HAHAHAHHAH) and giving Apple even more free press than I will anyway they won’t give me one to try for a month, like Google did with the Nexus One. No, I’ll have to wait in line and buy my own. On the other hand, Walt Mossberg and four other hand-picked journalists will get a press demo unit to try a month before anybody else.
11. It’s possible this is Steve Jobs’ last “big product” development at Apple so there may not be another chance to be part of a press event like this again.

PROS OF STAYING HOME AND “CURATING” THE EVENT:

1. I’ll be in my pajamas and won’t need to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to make it to San Francisco in time to beat Ryan Block in the door.
2. I’ll have great wifi and four computers with more screens than the average Avatar special effects nerd at Lucas Films has (really, I visited there two weeks ago and they have small screens).
3. I’ll be able to watch 500 of the world’s tech journalists in real time and will be able to pick out the best reports.
4. I’ll be able to write a blog in peace and quiet and put together the best reports.
5. I’ll be able to make it to the Palo Alto Apple store before any of the Press Corp will, and since they are all up in SF I’ll get the best geek story of reaction from Silicon Valley store visitors.
6. I’ll be able to mix Engadget, Crunchgear, Gizmodo, Gearlive, and all the other blog posts together and put together a more complete picture than any of them will give.
7. I’ll be able to talk with my friends in China, who probably know more about this device than anyone except for Steve Jobs anyway. If I’m stuck in the event I won’t be able to make phone calls to do original reporting while the event is going on.
7b. I’ll be able to call — while the event is going on — other execs at other companies like Google and Microsoft to get their take on things and will be able to report that in real time.
8. Unlike most tech journalists, who will only link to their own stuff, I’ll be able to tell you — in real time — who has the best photos and best streaming video or audio from the event. After the event I’ll be able to link you to the best reports. Yes, Techmeme will do the same, but Techmeme has its bias. Just tonight Techmeme linked to a story about YouTube that had been broken by someone else a week ago.
9. I’ll be able to get on audio shows, like those from Leo Laporte or Steve Gillmor or Clayton Morris or Louis Gray and get the first punditry out. I’ll be available in a quiet place to do shows from BBC, Fox, etc that would be very difficult to do from the floor of the event.
10. I’ll be able to hang out with the other hundreds of thousands of geeks who didn’t get invited to the press event and since I won’t be able to get any exclusive news by going anyway they won’t be jealous of me and might invite me over for a beer in the afternoon while griping that they, again, have been locked out of an opportunity to sit at Steve Jobs’ feet and drool on the floor while seeing stuff that will cost us all at least a few hundred bucks and probably thousands over the next few years.

I guess you can see I’ve pretty much made up my decision, but what about you? Would you go? Why?

BACK TO CURATION AND ITS IMPACT ON NEWS

OK, that was all pretty tongue-in-cheek, but there is something to this curation argument. After all, where is the value in the news chain? Is it taking a photo that 60 other photographers will take? Is it trying to compete for video with CNN, ABC, BBC, etc, all of which have $100,000 HD cameras, not to mention that Apple has its own multi-camera video crew that will shoot video that’s better quality than anything you’ll be able to make anyway?

Is it in writing an article about the specs? Come on, please do be serious. Engadget, GDGT, Crunchgear, Gearlive, and Gizmodo will all do those and have distribution to boot. Plus they will each have teams of people there and, probably, will have the spec sheets in their hands hours before the event anyway. When I was at the Palm event at CES last year I saw several journalists had their entire articles written BEFORE the event and were just waiting for a quote and the embargo to end before posting them. You really think you can add more value there?

How about thinking you’ll get an exclusive by hanging out with Steve Jobs and he’ll whisper in your ear something he isn’t going to repeat to everyone else. Hey, it could happen, right? And I could win the lottery too.

But, look at curation. I know all of the tech journalists and have been studying them for years. Here’s a set of my Twitter lists, which you can watch yourself in real time:
500 of the best tech journalists.
433 tech venture capitalists.
500 company founders.
339 tech company executives.
500 iPhone developers, businesses, and influentials.
493 of the world’s top tech news brands, from CNET to Techcrunch, and have a list of them.

I can watch all of these lists in real time and curate news from any of them. Also, because I’ll be home in front of big screens I’ll be able to see patterns, like the differences between how tech journalists and tech company executives are reacting to the news, and report that to you. That’s something that very few tech journalists have demonstrated they are willing (or able) to do. Look at how few tech news brands have created comprehensive lists like these of the tech industry.

Add to that over on Facebook I have a list of the world’s top executives, including those who run Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and lots of other companies and I’ll be able to call and do reporting from my seat.

I can watch all of these lists in real time and put patterns and reports together from across the industry. To me that’s more valuable than even just watching the keynote live. Which explains my choice.

But none of that really compares to the real fun we’re going to have on Wednesday: we’re all going to be able to curate this event together in live time thanks to Facebook, FriendFeed, and Twitter.

See, I’ll be also watching my stream from 17,500+ of you. So, if one of you gets some exclusive news (which is more possible than if I went to the Apple event, since some of you probably have relatives building the device, or friends who work at Apple who are giving you a sneak peak, etc) then I’ll be able to see it and retweet it before anyone on the event floor will be able to see it.

Already if you watch my favorite tweet feed, which this weekend passed 13,000 tweets, all hand favorited by me in just the past eight months, you’ll see the best of the Apple news.

To me THAT is what really has changed about news in the past few years. It’s not that any one of us will get an exclusive but that those who are good at sifting through large numbers of tweets, most of which have tons of noise, will be able to curate a story that no one journalistic team will be able to build on their own.

But, either way, it’ll be fun to watch on Wednesday and my curation hat will be on. Which would you rather do? Create or curate?

Oh, by the way, I bet that Steve Jobs shows off a system on Wednesday that will let you BOTH create and curate and that is why Apple will win this week, big time.

UPDATE: On Wednesday I’ll be giving away my Kindle 2.0 (the small one). It’s not heavily used, in perfect condition. After Wednesday I doubt I’ll use it much so might as well give it away. And, if Apple’s tablet is a huge disappointment (yeah, right) I’ll be able to buy the bigger Kindle anyway or try out Barnes and Noble’s Nook. Anyway, to win it just leave the best response in comments below. I’ll announce the winner at the start of the keynote.