Content Curation Future Impact
Where and how the curatorial approach may bring more changes
What may surprise you in the years to come, is not so much the critically important role that content curation will play in many of our activities, but the impact it will have on many aspects of our lives such as education, news and journalism, entertainment, marketing, design, ecommerce, art and, last but not least, online search.
Let’s look at some of these, in detail.
News and Journalism
Thanks to content curation, in the near future curated news hubs will bring together the top stories for any industry saving you the time that it would take to visit way too many sites and helping you discover new sources, sites and blogs which you did not know.
To get a glimpse of this future, take a look at Techmeme, Memeorandum, Mediagazer as well as to HackerNews, AllTop and Hvper. All of these curated news hubs aggregate and bring together in one place the top stories and news on specific topics.
A renaissance of “niche” email newsletters will curate specific industry verticals by collecting, summarizing and publishing all of the most relevant news for specific industry verticals. An early successful example of this trend is Smartbrief, a company that publishes hundreds of curated newsletters, each one focusing on a specific industry, from aeronautics to pharmaceuticals. Each newsletter picks, selects, adds commentary and opinion to the most relevant news of the day in his specific market niche.
Similarly, the newest kid on the block, Inside, is also positioned to become a one-stop-shop for niche email newsletter curating the most relevant news and stories in a myriad of other verticals.
In general, we may see a growing trend of new journalism moving from news as entertainment and light-information source, to news as a service, made up of specialized streams of highly organized and vetted information, subjectively curated by dedicated teams of experts.
Curation may also bring to the surface a more critical and analytical approach to being informed, as well as an appreciation for first-person, subjective reporting where we can see events and stories through the eyes and perspective of a specific individual (who is open and transparent about his bias and prejudices).
In the near future it is possible that we will strive less to get absolute objectivity, as curation makes us realize that this is not a 100% tenable position. Reality can be looked at from different viewpoints, and it is now up to us, to pick and select with which “glasses” we want to look at it.
Education and Learning
The whole educational universe is being completely revolutionized by curational practices.
Personalized, custom learning paths will replace traditional standardized curricula as the number of available online courses explodes. Subject-matter experts will curate them by bringing together the best online classes from the most diverse set of universities and colleges. Coursera, Springboard, and smaller companies like CourseBuffet or eLearnHero are already paving this path, while adding profitable complementary services like personal mentoring and certification.
New tools, like Peak, allow smaller schools to aggregate content from multiple sources like the Khan Academy, YouTube Education, Britannica School, and many more and to create custom courses and classes tailored to specific needs.
Content curation starts being used as a better and more effective approach to let students discover and fully immerse themselves in any topic to be learned. By using a curatorial approach in a learning environment students are prompted to do so by actively exploring and critically investigating the matter to be learned, rather than by simply memorizing its related facts.
Curated textbooks will replace their traditional academic counterparts, by bringing together in a highly customizable fashion the best and most relevant information already available out in existing articles, research papers, essays and textbooks. (McGraw-Hill Create, Panopen, Boundless)
Teachers, professors and parents will take personal responsibility to find, test and evaluate new tools and resources in a public, collaborative, crowdsourced fashion. (EdShelf)
Subject-matter experts who curate specific topics, issues and themes, will become the new educators / facilitators / guides as traditional teachers and professors rapidly evolve into “curators” or risk losing a good chunk of their appeal, credibility and trust.
As a consequence the role of the teacher / professor is gradually transformed into one of an expert guide, go-to-person, museum guide, who can suggest and advise on where and how to look to find out more about a specific issue, problem, or topic. (Springshare LibGuides)
As museum and art galleries fully digitize themselves, the opportunities to create additional value by curating, not just what is in the collection, but also what is related to it but outside of it, will literally explode (see The Open-Source Museum).
Art will disenfranchise itself from having to depend on monolithic interpretations and views as it will become possible for multiple experts to contribute their views and interpretation to any art collection. (The Met Connections)
Better yet, art lovers and connoisseurs will be, for the first time in history, empowered to create and showcase their own art collections without needing to own any of the actual pieces. They will also be able to contribute, comment, annotate and curate personal collections, thematic showcases and galleries of their own creation and choosing (Google Open Gallery, Pictify, Kapsul).
The curated collections of the near future, which will be accessible in a digital format, will remain available forever (no need to take them down to give space to another exhibition), and will offer the opportunity to be frequently updated and expanded, while preserving a complete and thorough history of all the changes, modifications and additions made to it. (see Google Street Art)
Digital art collections (aided by virtual/augmented reality) will make physical-only, static collections a thing of the past.
The world of films will also greatly benefit from curation activities and in particular it will see an explosion of discovery tools that will make it much easier to find and re-discover movies, films and documentaries that have never made it to the commercial movie-theater circuit or to television.
Here a few early examples:
- Omive — find instantly any movie by genre, rating, votes, runtime, year, keywords, directors and actors.
- Tastekid — recommends similar music (musicians, bands), movies, TV shows, books, authors and games, based on what you like.
- MovieMap — visual movies search engine helps you discover similar movies you may like.
- IsNotTV — movie discovery platform leveraging user contibutions, reviews and “trusted guides”.
- SuggestMovie — custom movie search engine helps to filter and find whatever type of film you may be looking for.
Curated resources like the Criterion Collection, a curated film boutique that digitally remasters and sells access to classic authors’ films, while bundling with each movie, unique and rare interviews, clips, unpublished/censored scenes, backstage images and other relevant materials (that would be otherwise next to impossible to find) will also prosper.
There will be plenty of independent curated hubs dedicated to collect and organize the best films of a particular genre, author, epoch. Specialization and depth, rather than breadth and general info will again be the characterizing traits of these new curated outlets.
Their existence will make it so much easier to discover and appreciate thousands of great films that otherwise had no hope of being ever found.
- FilmsforAction — a curated collection of films about activism and social change.
Also of interest the fast growing number of free websites that collect and organize all of the great documentaries freely accessible online. Here some great examples:
The film curators behind these new catalogs will be our trusted guides in finding and selecting the best movie to watch, rather than having us check tons of trailers or skimpy reviews by film critics we know little or nothing about.
In the field of photography new tools and services will span a renaissance of visual showcases, catalogs and collections that will bring together the best imagery, ideas and concepts emerging.
Thanks to dedicated image curation platforms like Behance, Dribbble, 500px, Flickr it will be increasingly easy to get infinite visual inspiration, ideas as well as to find great photographers and visual artists for any type of project or endeavour.
New, revolutionary free curated platforms, like Unsplash will allow top-notch visual imagery and totally unknown photographers to be found and appreciated like it was never possible before.
Pinterest itself, will continue to be a reference tool both for discovery as well as for the creation of new valuable image collections.
Even online stock photo agencies will start to deeply curate their own image libraries, as the key differentiator among them, will not be just volume anymore, but besides image quality and originality, the ever more important ease-of-finding.
When the inventory becomes near-infinite, like it is the case with Amazon, eBay and other large online retailers, then curation becomes a necessity.
Buyers do not like to be overwhelmed with choices and alternatives. Rather, they like and appreciate independent expert advice, commentary, opinions, buying stats, ratings and user-driven top picks, selections and suggested bundles.
Thus, to curate, big retailers will need to work hard to best organize products in well defined categories, to collect and add precise info and data, while adding key value by letting buyers share reviews, comments and opinions in a crowdsourced fashion.
The consequence is that next to algorithmically-based lists and suggestions, we will rely more and more on users suggestions, comments and recommendations.
A growing set of dedicated tools and services is already available for anyone wanting to take a lead on this front.
For example, Polyvore makes it easy to find and bring together fashion items into small beautiful showcases curated by individuals.
Other interesting examples of services that leverage curation to help consumers find their ideal products are:
- Styloko — Aggregates products from top brands and lets you save and collect your favorite ones. Instantly find similar items to the ones you like.
- Nuji — Editors’ collections provide ideas and inspiration for what to wear in different occasions while hundreds of detailed categories help buyers easily find what they want.
- Chicissimo — Makes it easy for fashion buyers to showcase their favorite outfits and looks.
Overall, it may be quite likely that curated collections, user recommendations and crowdsourced curation will give a powerful boost to online shopping as product catalogs grow to huge dimensions and even search results do not provide a useful enough filter to identify relevant stuff.
Entertainment (music, films, TV shows, video, etc.)
No matter whether you are looking at music, films, TV shows, radio or podcasts, the content offerings are so vast and diversified, that the real challenge for the normal person, overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options available, is what content to pay attention to and where/how to find it without losing a ton of time.
Thus just like Apple Music, Pandora and Spotify have started to heavily invest in human curators to create great playlists and compilations that their audiences can identify with, the same has started to take place with entertainment providers like Netflix, which publishes lists, categories and recommendations to facilitate content finding.
A fast growing number of tools helps anyone interested in finding video content to explore selected themes and topics across the many video outlets available online.
One good example is Pluto.tv, which gathers and curates over 80 TV channels in 11 categories from news to sport, comedy and entertainment. It also offers 50 different thematic channels that bring together and on-demand, the best of what is available.
On Youtube, it has become harder and harder to find the many gems and quality videos available on the platform, but that’s where internal video curators and public playlists are going to make a difference.
As a consequence Youtube playlists will also gain much value, both for those who will be included in them, as well as for those who will curate them.
The practice of content curation, by individual persons or by formal publishers forces those curating to pay extra attention to the matter at hand. Specifically, it forces them to double vet it, verify it and compare it with other sources and opinions.
Content curation and its use, forces those doing it to be “critical”. That is, it obliges whoever is doing it not to take any information, no matter what the source, at face value, but to critically analyze it, question it and verify it against different alternative sources.
Take for example the “fake news” phenomenon every newspaper, magazine, radio and TV station has been recently talking about. The practice has been there for the longest time, but it is only now that it has gotten so much media attention.
Fake news are everywhere, and major mainstream publishers and brands are frequently the ones guilty of publishing them.
Unfortunately, the best way to counter such phenomenon, it may not be by certifying and officially labelling who is trustworthy and who is not (as this may have very more risky consequences on our ability to discern truth from fraud), but rather by learning, at the individual level, how to check, vet and verify any story, news, article or tweet.
The task at hand is not to mark unreliable authors and websites, but to learn how to tell that a news story, report or article is not trustworthy. No matter who has published it. Sidestepping it, by taking any mainstream news as reliable by default, simply because it has been published by a “trusted” or “well known” brand, will not cut it anymore.
The task at hand is to preserve, mark, organize, highlight, comment and share all of the great, valuable content that we find out there. Not to ostracize or censor. History has already taught us that what may appear heretical and impossible today, can easily become a shared reality for everyone tomorrow.
This is what content curation will bring to us in the near future: a much more responsible approach to finding and reading online information, founded on the awareness that ALL content must be checked, vetted and verified.
Search engines will increasingly be gateways to curators and content collections rather than to individual sources, tracks and pages.
This will be particularly true especially when you will query a topic, a theme or interest, or better yet, a musical genre.
In all of these situations, where you want to dive, discover and learn more about a topic, it is much better to be offered a selection of playlists, compilations, collections or hubs, compiled by well-profiled experts, covering that theme rather than a specific song, product or artist.
Search and discoverability of content will rely more and more on intermediaries that will take on the load to make sense and organize in the best possible way, a specific realm of information (it can be a music genre, or the analysis of a biological topic) rather than — as it happens today — provide a linear list of individual web pages matching that request.
Although it may seem impossible today, individual users and organizations will challenge Google monopoly on search, not with more servers, faster lines or less advertising intrusions, but by providing, better, more comprehensive and expert-vetted results in a growing number of very specific interest areas.
The key characterizing traits of these new search alternatives are both their focus and their not-exclusively-algorithmic, human DNA.
By placing all of their resources and attention on a very small and well-defined area, and by leveraging the know-how and experience of multiple subject-matter experts, these crowdsourced and curated search engines will be orders of magnitude better than Google at finding relevant information in specific knowledge areas.
Early examples of this are Nomadlist, who collects, vets and curates best cities and places to live around the world for digital nomads, Oldversion which not only collects and organizes, but also physically preserves all of the released versions of free software tools (making it a snap to find and switch back to any past versions of Skype or iTunes).
Both of these, are not just evolved vertical search engines with many custom, dedicated filters, but they also act as full-blown directories where each result brings in or aggregates a plethora of relevant complementary info. Nothing like what Google offers.
The same vertical search approach is also the one used for example by Stylig and Stylight (fashion, clothes, shoes and accessories) which facilitate discovery across brands by curating and bringing together in one place the newest and most interesting fashion products available online.
In the near future, it may also be possible that individuals will be able to tweak and customize themselves search algorithms, choosing and applying their preferred filters, sources and ratings, while collaboratively curating and annotating highly focussed search results instead of relying exclusively on Google proprietary, secret ones. Zakta Research is an early example in this direction.
Content curation is not a passing fad, a shortcut to save time and produce more, or the latest tactic to gain visibility, traffic and links online. Though it may be sold as any of these by superficial onlookers, curation is a natural, spontaneous biological solution to any economy of abundance.
Curation is a information processing activity to be used when in the presence of very large amounts of disorganized and unverified information there is a desire to understand, make sense and learn more.
For these reasons curation will be extremely useful in any field connected that requires learning, staying informed, and the need for finding and discovering new valuable resources.
From news to investigative journalism, from TV to YouTube, from online search to music, film, education and learning, curation will positively play a key role in shaping how we manage and learn to extract value and personal truth in each one of these realms.
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