Content Curation Approaches: Types and Formats

A catalog of real-world examples of editorial formats for curated content

12 Approaches to Content Curation - © Robin Good, 2018

While you may be accustomed to think of content curation as a catalog of resources or commented links on a specific topic, there are many more ways that content can be curated to create value for others.

Annotated directories, anthologies, news-radars, compilations, playlists, reading guides, courses and textbooks are all different types of curated content formats.

Each format has its own key peculiarities, characterizing traits, specific areas of application and key strengths. What they have in common is their purpose: finding and organizing existing content artifacts to create new insight and shared value.

Here I have brought together and identified as many content curation formats as I am aware of, alongside real-world examples for each one.

My goal is mapping the territory.

I want to expose, showcase, make visible and known the content curation space as much as possible.

My end goal is to help more authors understand it, explore it, help me map it better and utilize it to communicate more effectively while sharing great value.

The selection criteria that I have used to identify the content curation formats I am describing below, is the following:

1. Content creation/production approach that leverages existing, published content/info

2. Focus - the curated content has been processed and organized for a specific public/audience and need.

3. New value being generated in the process. Something new is created by the gathering of the existing content/info into a new format (timeline from dates and other info, new song from other other track samples, a curated textbook from existing OER contents or online course from available online free videos and readings).

4. Authorship - there is tangible/appreciable human-contributed value being added in the curation process (such as research, organization, selection, sorting, commenting, evaluation, testing/reporting, comparison, etc.).

What follows is a work-in-progress that, hopefully with your help, suggestions and contributions can be further improved and made into a valuable reference for anyone interested in exploring the many different formats and approaches to value-creating content curation.

Here is my attempt at mapping content curation, through 12 different major approaches, additional sub-categories and many examples.

Feel free to explore, comment and provide constructive feedback and suggestions.

1) Aggregating

“The mindful gathering of 
the most relevant information 
on a specific topic 
 from diverse sources
in one place.”

  1. News Aggregator - Newsradar
    Filtered and ordered selection of news, streams, links coming from multiple sources on a specific topic.
    Techmeme - all of the top tech industry and VC breaking news in one page.
Techmeme one-page tech news aggregator

TASS - Press Review - all of the top news of the day selected by the largest Russian news agency.

DrudgeReport - American conservative, right-wing news aggregation website, run by Matt Drudge with the help of Charles Hurt.
NewsNow - independent all news aggregator.

2) Crowdsourced News Aggregator
News stream curated, maintained and updated with the help of or directly by readers themselves.
Slashdot - curated selection of news and stories submitted, commented and voted by readers on topics ranging from games, to Linux and politics.

Slashdot home page

HackerNews - interesting breaking news stories on a variety of subjects submitted, commented and upvoted by readers.
Reddit - news and resources on hundreds of different subjects, submitted, commented and upvoted by readers organized into communities of interest.
Refind - links to interesting resources and news shared and tagged 
by readers.

3) Social Hub
A moderated stream of social media posts from various sources covering a specific event, person, topic or theme.
. - a hub for all curation related content hand-picked by me.

Join the World - “travel ideas and tips from UK travel blogs and social channels, categorized in themes. 
Sheffield After 5 - what happens in Sheffield after 5pm.

4) Anthology
A collection of writings from different authors brought together into one publication.
Reader’s Digest - “ …a sampling of favorite articles on many subjects from various monthly magazines, sometimes condensed and rewritten, and combined into one magazine.

Readers’ Digest

Ready, Set, Curate it! - Eight different chapters and eight different authors curated into a book about a specific topic by Ben Betts.

2) Synthesizing

Reducing long, 
complex information artifacts into short, simplified versions, 
by identifying and distilling 
the most relevant aspects.

  1. Summary - Abstract 
    Synthesis of a written work. Book summaries.
    GetAbstract - 15,000+ nonfiction books summarized 
    into compelling 10‑minute reads.

Blinkist - 2000+ bestselling nonfiction books summarized 
into packs that you can read or listen to in just 15 minutes.
Joosr - Books summarized — mobile app.

2) Curated Newsletter
A commented selection of the most relevant articles and resources on a specific topic / theme for a specific time period.
Smartbrief - hundreds of industry-specific newsletters distilling 
the top news of the day.

SmartBrief — Social Business — screenshot from email

Inside - topic-specific newsletters curated by passionate individuals.

The Next Draft - “most fascinating news of the day” by Dave Pell.

Taking Stock - animal agriculture in developing countries 
by Susan McMillan.

3) Collecting

“Bringing together into an organized set, rare, unique and hard-to-find information artifacts for a specific audience and need.”

  1. Data Collection
    Organized collection of highly selected relevant data on a specific topic.
    Business Model Gallery - successful models of existing companies 
    dissected and organized.
Business Model Gallery

NomadList - the best world locations for digital nomads.

Crunchbase - directory of all tech startups.

2) Stories Collection
Selected set of interviews, biographies or personal stories characterized by a common theme.
Marshall McLuhan Speaks - video and TV interviews of the late media scholar gathered and organized.

Marshall McLuhan Speaks

Storie - Nomadi Digitali - in-depth stories of full-time digital nomads living around the world.
Self-Taught Coders - lessons from 7 self-taught coders who have become full software developers.

3) Rare Collection
A collection of information artifacts that are hard to find, get.
Oldversion - Archive of dismissed software versions of popular digital tools.

Criterion Collection - curated and remastered authors’ films.

FilmsforAction - films about “changing the world”.
Movieclips - film and movie trailers.
Wikileaks - analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or secret documents involving war, spying and corruption.
DocumentaryStorm -100% free-to-view documentaries 

4) Showcase (Visual Collection)
A visual catalog of examples / resources on a specific subject.

CalltoIdea - selected web pages across categories.

eLearningExamples - great examples of visual communication.
UI-Patterns - organized screenshot examples from real-world websites.
5) Tools Collection
A growing repository of tools reviewed and commented.

  • EdShelf- a crowdsourced curated collection of educational tools
EdShelf by Mike Lee
  • ProductHunt - crowdsourced tech tools (as well as books, games, discovered, commented and voted by users/readers).

4) Mapping

“Collecting and organizing 
all key elements 
defining a specific realm 
and the relationships 
between its components.”

1) Index - Directory
A comprehensive organized index of all relevant resources on 
a specific topic.
Coursera - top free online university courses. - top journalists contacts.
Startuplister/Promotehour - top sites where to promote a new service.
Design — SnowFallen Stories - index of all published SnowFall-like in-depth newspaper stories from 1997 to 2016. Crowdsourced and curated by Bobby Johnson.

2) Infographic - Mindmap
A visual display in which graphic displays, charts and data accompanied by short texts contribute to shed comprehensive light on a specific topic.
How To Build a Human II

How to build a human II —

Visual List of Infographic Ideas 
The Art of a Curated Post
3) Bibliography
A list of the books that inspired and informed a specific publication.
4) Blogroll — List of Sources
Public link list of reading sources /recommended sites by a specific author / brand. Was much en vogue during the early blogging years.

5) Distilling

“A simplified selection of the most representative information artifacts for a specific topic/theme and audience. A list to the best and most relevant.”

  1. Best of - Top of
    A “best of category list” according to the author subjective evaluation and/or to specific published criteria.
    Top Tools for Learning - Curated list of top tools for learning/education by Jane Heart.
Top Tools for Learning 2017 by Jane Heart

T5 - top free tools for comm pros — Curated catalog of free digital tools for online communication professionals hand-picked by Robin Good.

2) Ranking Chart
A list of information artifacts ordered according to specific criteria.
Courseroot - all online courses from top learning platforms (Coursera, Khan Academy, EdX, Udemy, Audacity, Springboard, FutureLearn, etc.) organized, ranked and made searchable by price, difficulty, certificate quality, etc.


MOZ SEO Ranking Factors — experts’ voted key SEO ranking factors determining position of websites inside Google search engine result pages.
please suggest relevant examples.

3) List 
A short, non-comprehensive, index of information resources, 
selected according to specific criteria.
The 100 Best Novels Written in English (The Guardian)
List of Crime Movies of the 2010s (Wikipedia)
The Greatest Books by Shane Sherman
Best Books Lists

6) Mashing up - Remixing

“A creative recombination of information artifacts into something new.”

1) Mashup — Remix
A newly edited work obtained by either disassembling and re-assembling creatively parts of an existing opera and/or by editing together parts of different works into a new one.
The Grey Album by Danger Mouse - “Released in 2004, it mixes an a cappella version of rapper Jay-Z’s The Black Album with samples from The Beatles’ LP The Beatles, commonly known as “The White Album”.”

The Grey Album cover

Pogo - Famous Walt Disney movies sountracks remixed into new video/songs.
DJ Steve Porter Sportsremixes - Remixes of recorded speech by famous athletes 
into songs (*
Pretty Lights and Derek Vincent Smith - The album Color Map of the Sun was created by an extensive work of recording and curating new groove samples to be later remixed into actual new music tracks. Here’s the full story.


2) Playlist, Compilation, Mix/DJset
A thematic sequence of music tracks, live or recorded.
Jose Padilla - DJ gave life to music compilation series on CDs titled 
Café del Mar (1999) which would bring together unknown artists with more popular ones into thematic, chilled-out playlists.


  • Hed Kandi - UK-based record label (1999), famous for its unique, thematic, dance music compilations and for their unique cover design style. Hed Kandi created more than 100 music compilations and has sold more than 5 million CD compilations.

Dogglounge - recorded thematic live sets by selected DJs.

7) Pathmaking — Sequencing

“The design of learning pathways 
through the sequencing and
contextualization of existing information resources.”

  1. Learning Path
    A curated sequence of courses, readings, videos, assignments that serve a specific learning objective.
    Springboard - Mentored learning paths from top available online offerings.

eLearnHero - Business & marketing learning tracks from top online courses.
CourseBuffet - Curated learning paths from free university courses. 

2) Syllabus - Reading Guide
A commented reading list covering a specific subject or theme.
Mobile Learning 101 by Connie Malamed. Curated learning guide.

Mobile Learning 101 by Connie Malamed

Content Curation Guide by Robin Good.

3) Curated Course
A learning program created by gathering, organizing and sequencing existing information resources, such as videos, readings, and specific tutorials or official classes.
Saylor Academy — “Learning courses curated from a trove of free and open online resources by expert educators. A catalog of over 300+ classes consisting of readings, lectures and other materials pulled from web sources.

Candela — “an extremely affordable alternative to expensive textbooks 
at the college level.

4) Curated Book, Textbook
A book created by bringing together existing published content. 
(either licensed or “open”).
Boundless - Curated textbooks
(*looking for more examples — please suggest)

8) Profiling

“Gathering and organizing information from diverse sources 
about a specific person or event 
to provide a detailed profile, 
bio, identikit.

1) Personal bio / Profile / CV
A detailed description of a person including personal history, 
education, achievements, career and focus.
Kevin Kelly - wikipedia page

Kevin Kelly profile/bio on Wikipedia


2) Press Kit - Media Kit
Collection of documents, images and data providing a complete profile of a person, company or brand to interested parties. 
Chicken Like Birds Press Kit- music band online press-kit made up by bringing together selected pieces of their videos, tracks, info and links.

The curated press-kit of music band Chicken like Birds

RD Media Kit- complete all-round press and media-kit gathering together data, stats, examples, reviews.
(*looking for examples - please suggest)

3) Press Review
Organized collection of press / media clippings covering 
a specific subject.
LastPass press review 
Flos press clippings 

4) Visual Portfolio
Organized visual gallery of work done by an individual/company.

9) Trendspotting & Analysis

“Extracting insights, 
patterns and trends 
from systematic 
and in-depth analysis 
of large quantity of data.”

1) Trends analysis
Analysis of existing news and information over a large time span to identify new, emerging trends.
Trendhunter - trend reports, innovation conference, books, and focusing on identifying new emerging ideas.

Trendwatching - website, reports and events focusing on identifying new emerging consumer trends.
Non-Obvious book anticipating key trends and changes in consumer behavior by Rohit Barghava.

10) Investigating

“In-depth journalistic research leveraging contributions from multiple sources, including contradictory ones, to shed light and understanding on a specific issue/story/topic.”

1) Dossier / Investigative article
An investigative report about a specific event, story, person sowing together info, reports and contributions from many other sources such as lawsuits, other legal documents, tax records, government reports, regulatory reports, corporate financial filings, databases of public records and more.
The Panama Papers (2016) - investigative effort to organize, analyze and present the story of the leak of 11.5 million documents detailing secret financial and legal info for more than 200,000 offshore companies.

The Panama Papers — ICIJ

The Big Pharma Project - La Vida Tiene Precio - A transnational investigation on the methods of the pharmaceutical companies to prolong their monopolies in Latin America.
The Coyote- Buzzfeed - the extent of U.S. worker displacement and foreign worker exploitation in the H-2B program.

2) Experts Guide
A comprehensive in-depth resource to a specific topic created by gathering and bringing together the opinion and advice of numerous experts.
Search Engine Ranking Factors by MOZ

MOZ SEO ranking factors

How Winning Sales People Spend 15 Minutes Before a Sales Call 
Study Methods of the Greatest World Drummers 

3) Curated Article
An article gathering, citing and referencing key information from 
numerous sources where the “voice” of the curator can be clearly heard.
Brain Pickings by Maria Popova.

Brain Pickings by Maria Popova — About Page

A Comprehensive Guide To The New Science of Treating Lower Back Pain

The Ideal Length of Everything Online, Backed by Research

Paleo Diet Recipes

11) Chronicling

“The visual display and arrangement of selected events focusing on a specific topic, person or issue, along a series of dates 
(a timeline).”

1) Timeline
A visual sequence of events / dates, sorted in chronological order, about a specific person, event, topic.
The Evolution of the Web - Visual showcase of web tech history

Evolution of the web

The Moz Story - The story of SEOMoz visualized on a vertical timeline.
Cartographic Regression - Evolution territories between Palestine and Israel.

12) Comparing

The evaluation and analysis of two or more elements, weighted along the same criteria.”

1) Comparison
A comparative analysis designed to help in identifying best candidates for a specific goal, and/or to highlight the candidates key strengths and weaknesses.
Best Hiking Boots - Detailed comparison and analysis of 
different hiking boots.

OutdoorGearLab — Best Hiking Boots 2018

Business Model Gallery - Compare, variable by variable, key components of business models utilized by great companies.
G2Crowd - User-driven discovery and comparison engine 
of digital tools and web services.

If you have found this information useful, the best way in which you can thank me is by helping me improve this analysis by:

  • Suggesting changes / improvements to the categorization
  • Providing specific examples to add

Thank you for your kind support.


Icons : TheNounProject