What is content curation and why is it so important for the future of web content publishers?
“Content curation, simply put, is collecting, contextualizing and sharing information, often on a specific topic.”
Parker, Hilary. “The Case for Content Curation.” Red Rokk, June 13, 2013. http://redrokk.com/2013/06/13/case-for-content-curation .
Content curation is the art of finding, organizing, adding value and publicly sharing digital information artifacts on a specific topic for a particular audience interest.
Content curation grows out of the need to find, discover, filter, preserve and make sense of the vast amount of rare, valuable, disorganized and largely unverified information resources available on the Internet.
Is content curation an expedient, a marketing tactic, a strategy to achieve something, or is it a solution to a problem, a complement to a necessity or a natural evolution of the way we are learning to manage information?
If you were to listen to what content marketers have been screaming out loud for the last few years, content curation is a marvelous new tactic to do miraculous things with the minimum effort. Getting more authority, gaining prestige and reputation, welcoming more readers and visitors on the site, increasing visibility inside search engine page results and working less to achieve all of the above, are just some of the unique benefits heralded by content marketers promoting content curation.
But is it really so?
The reason why content curation is here, is due to none of these reasons.
Content curation makes it possible to understand, explore, make sense of a topic, issue, subject, person or event by organizing the best information resources about it (articles, studies, images, video, etc) and providing keen insight and expert guidance into their exploration.
The main goal of content curation is to help others discover, learn and make-sense of something they are not familiar with.
“Curation is using your expertise in a field to gather great content around a specific theme and present that content in a way that will educate others.”
Hatch Leishman, Stephanie. “Curated Content about Curated Content.” MIT Connect, March 1, 2013. http://connect.mit.edu/blog/curated-content-about-curated-content .
Information Overload + Keeping Oneself Updated
The first reason that makes content curation so important is that it is critical to the widespread need of keeping oneself updated.
As you probably know already, the time it takes to follow and go through tens of web sites and blogs takes tangible time, and since most news sources publish or give coverage to more than one topic, one has to browse and scan through lots of useless content just for the sake of finding what is relevant to his specific interest.
Even in the case of power-users utilizing RSS feed readers, aggregators and filters, the amount of junk that they have to sift through daily is nothing but impressive. So much so, that those who do have the time, patience and skills to pick the gems from the ocean of tweets, social media posts and blog posts flooding our screens, do clearly stand out from the rest.
“…content curation is the act of organizing some of the vast information online around a specific subject or theme to be useful for a particular audience”
Honigman, Brian. “The Future of Content Marketing: 6 Predictions for Content Curation.” SumAll, February 13, 2014. http://blog.sumall.com/journal/content-marketing-content-curation.html .
From whichever perspective you look at it, today it is next to impossible to have enough time to scour and scan all of the possible relevant news sources in a certain industry, and unless you start relying on intermediary human filters (the content curators) to aggregate, filter and hand-select the very best and most relevant news for your specific industry niche, you may as well give up on the idea of being on top of the news that are relevant to you.
Here a list of specific reasons that make content curation so compelling:
- The information tsunami keeps growing daily,
- there are new blogs, social channels and news sources launching every day,
- there is an increasing amount of personal, serendipitous, but also distracting, colloquial content
- there is a growing amount of spam and marketing push masked as blog posts or press releases,
- on Twitter and other social media channels, there are a large number of unverified news and stories pointing to low-quality or even missing pages,
- it is hard for a newbie to distinguish a reliable, trustable source from a marketer or spammer,
- Crap detection is a rare skill among users and too much low-quality content sifts through unless properly checked,
- titling and meta information is often misleading, ambiguous or just not clear enough,
- you can’t be there always. You can’t check the news 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
- unless you have some advanced skills it may be difficult for you to find new relevant sources of information and news from the ones you know, unless they are the ones to promote them
- relying always on the same sources tends to limit your view and awareness of other new ideas and opinions in your field of interest,
- news stories need to be contextualized — sometimes the relevance of a story for you can only be found by reading the story and extracting something else, than the main call, from it.
Given the above, how do you go about keeping yourself updated on your specific field of interest, without wasting a lot of time by having to follow too many blogs, feeds, Twitter channels and Facebook friends who are often not even talking about what you are specifically interested in?
[Content curation is] the process of assembling, summarizing and categorizing and interpreting information from multiple sources in a context that is relevant to a particular audience.”
Odden, Lee. “Content Curation: 10 Thought Leaders on Content Marketing & Curating.” Online Marketing Blog — TopRank®, June 2010. http://www.toprankblog.com/2010/06/content-marketing-curation-context/ .
Traditional newspapers curated news content from their associated news wire agencies, affiliated news bureaus and direct reporters, to create a bit-of-everything top-down/broadcast format designed to “inform” the largest number of people.
In the near future, when there will be hundreds of alternative specialty news sources curating tens of thousands of interest areas, it will be you, the reader, who will select your preferred topics and your trusted curator(s) to keep yourself informed.
Thus you will see readers gradually move away from superficial and generic information sources (as most traditional newspapers are) to individual curators or news hubs that curate specific topics and interests. The more specific, the better.
No matter whether you see it as “information overload” or “filter failure” the key fact here is that there is so much information being produced out there, that it is next to impossible to follow or keep up with just about any specific topic, without spending considerable amounts of time looking at irrelevant stuff.
That is the the essence.
To make the issue even more frustrating, no matter how much junk you go through, you may still be missing on some important news story or product announcement just because there are so many sources to look up and it becomes physically impossible to scan them all.
There is indeed much more food than we can chew.
“Content curation is the art of collaging sometimes seemingly disparate content from a variety of sources to make previously hidden truths manifest with a NonZero goal of helping others see, understand, interact with and contribute to emerging ideas, memes and truths.”
Smith, Martin W. “What Is Content Curation?” Atlantic BT, April 5, 2012. https://www.atlanticbt.com/blog/what-is-content-curation/
If until yesterday you have relied on generalists on main TV channels and newspapers to “present” and report to you the news they got themselves from other sources, wouldn’t it be a step forward if now you could get:
a) The specific type of news you wanted
b) from those trusted ones you believe to be “in the know” in your field of interest?
That’s right; individual experts or small teams who curate topic-specific news channels by selecting the best of all the news out there on the topic they have built authority and expertise for (while disclosing and providing you with a link for each and every source).
“Content Curation is the act of discovering, gathering, and presenting digital content that surrounds specific subject matter.”
Mullan, Eileen. “What Is Content Curation?” EContent Magazine, November 30, 2011. http://www.econtentmag.com/Articles/Resources/Defining-EContent/What-is-Content-Curation-79167.htm .
Viewpoint — Insight
But there’s indeed more to content curation than what initially meets the eye:
Personal, transparent, disclosed viewpoint rather than seeking objectivity, is the content curation standard.
“Content curation is the collection of content created by others, then filtered through one’s own point of reference.”
SMS Staff. “Editor’s Picks: Content Curation Tools — Search Marketing Standard Magazine | Covering Search Engines.” Search Marketing Standard, March 13, 2012. http://www.searchmarketingstandard.com/editors-picks-content-curation-tools
Content curation should not attempt to provide an objective, as-it-is, collection of news, images or other artifacts but it should rather strive to provide value by providing a specific viewpoint, opinion and commentary.
That insight, is indeed content curation key value.
“…curation requires conscious thought with the purpose of adding value, context, or perspective to a collection of things. It’s deliberate work, gathering things together for a reason and lending a keen editing eye to those assets, whether it be pieces of art or pieces of writing. There’s also an element of curation that involves preserving things, which is a more challenging proposition when you’re talking about the fleeting nature of the digital world.”
Naslund, Amber. “Curation Saturation, and Why We Might Need Information Friction after All.” Blog. Brasstackthinking, February 13, 2013. http://www.brasstackthinking.com/curation-saturation-and-why-we-might-need-information-friction-after-all/
“Curation is partly the sciences of organisation and conservation and partly the art of interpretation and storytelling.”
Stodd Julian. “A Note on Curation in Social Leadership.” Julian Stodd’s Learning Blog, December 5, 2013. https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/a-note-on-curation-in-social-leadership/ .
Storytelling is an essential part of content curation, as it is often the perfect vehicle through which one can guide others into the exploration and sense-making of something that is altogether unfamiliar to them.
By utilizing stories to guide the reader, the curator can facilitate the exploration of a subject which could be otherwise too vast and complex, in a way that is familiar to all cultures on this planet.
In the context of content curation, storytelling provides a friendly and familiar navigation layer for anyone interested in learning more about a subject they know little or nothing about.
Instead of simply providing a classification of information, storytelling provides a communication technology to navigate and explore that information in a natural way.
“Curation is a form of storytelling that places content within context.”
Brown-Martin, Graham. “Curating.” Blog. Graham Brown-Martin. http://www.grahambrownmartin.com/curating/ .
“Content curation isn’t about creating new content, just like a museum creator has no hand in creating the artefacts she decides to put on display. Instead, it’s about finding and organising existing content for presentation under a meaningful context.”
Madson, Chance. “A Comprehensive Guide to Content Curation.” Social Barrel, September 1, 2014. https://socialbarrel.com/guide-to-content-curation/94819/ .
“Curation focuses on three states:
2. perception and
Discovery is about how we find things out.
Perception’s about seeing the structure.
Interpretation is about finding the meaning, contextualising it to our reality.
Curation is an active skill, not a passive one: it’s about identifying gaps in skills and knowledge and plugging them, but also about building communities and networks.
Curation is a continuous process, forming a foundation for the stories we tell.”
Stodd, Julian. “Curation in Social Leadership — a First Draft.” Julian Stodd’s Learning Blog, September 3, 2013. https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/curation-in-social-leadership-a-first-draft/ .