The Curation Revolution
“Content is king”
There are 3 important things that you should know about this quote:
1) No, this isn’t a random meme that conquered the web. Bill Gates was the one that anointed content as king back in ‘96.
2) He got it right. Content has ruled mightily for the past 20 years.
3) Content has lost its reign. There’s a new King in town.
Now, I know that many of you won’t agree with #3. In fact, I’m sure some of you are already sharpening your blades and calling for my head. How dare I speak out against one of the most basic unwritten rules of the internet?
Well, bear with me for another paragraph or two, and you’ll see what I’m getting at…
Unravel the web
To truly understand what I’m talking about, I think it’s important that we first “unravel the web” and examine the evolution of the internet. Back in 1996, many things about the internet were different. The fact that it took a couple of minutes to connect to the web was normal. That weird dial-tone sound that always made you play with your ears was actually legitimate. The internet was in diapers, and before it could run, it needed to learn how to walk. And Bill Gates knew what he was talking about.
Content was king.
And throughout the years, from ’96 until now, content ruled. However, it really didn’t matter what type of content it was. All that we cared about was quantity and speed. Post as much content as you can, as fast as possible. From AOL to YouTube, Facebook to Instagram and Snapchat to Vine, content was all that mattered. As much information, as fast as you can.
Everyone wanted to feel connected. Everyone wanted everything at their fingertips.
Relevance wasn’t that important. Context didn’t matter. Quality wasn’t even on our minds. And why should it be? As long as we kept the free flow of information going, as long as everything was in our reach — and fast — we were happy.
At some point in the recent past, I’m not exactly sure when, we decided that enough is enough. Our need for speed is fulfilled. Our thirst for information has been quenched. We are so connected to each other, that if I see one more elevator selfie, a pic of your lunch with #FoodPorn or a status update from your dog, I will unfriend you! (Yes, that’s the best threat I could come up with in these sad times.)
At some point, we simply realized that we have way too much crap on the web and way too much free time to jump around in it. And then, our biggest problem became our own creation. We created a monster called the internet, where everyone thinks that they’re an artist, critic, poet, musician, photographer or journalist. Now, finding the good stuff, the relevant, the in-context, the quality — it’s like trying to find a needle in a pile of needles (trust me, it’s much harder than finding a needle in a pile of hay).
And that’s when it started — the curation revolution.
Now, we’ve become greedy, but in the best way possible. Now, we want our content just as fast and unlimited as before, yet somehow curated as well.
We want the “museum experience”.
Sure, millions of paintings have been painted throughout the years. But we only want to see the best, the most famous, the ones that made it to the surface while all the others drowned with the masses. Why waste my time on anything that’s short of excellent?
Content may be king, but curation is what rules the land. (And thank God for that!)
Creator to curator
So, you might be a bit confused. Who is king? Content or curation? The answer to that is pretty simple — both are king, both rule the web.
You see, unlike most revolutions, curation isn’t here to replace content. It’s actually the evolution of content. Today, if you want me spending my precious time on your content, it better be curated! I don’t want to have to swim in the sewage of stock-photos, dumb tweets and Facebook ads of stuff I’ll never buy.
I want the Louvre. I want the Guggenheim. I want my web experience to be as entertaining and delightful as possible.
And we can see this everywhere we look.
Apple Music and Tidal offer playlists, curated by experts, so you won’t waste your time listening to music you don’t like. Marketers have developed native ads (“this may interest you”), in an attempt to “curate” what products they try selling to you. Even Facebook and Instagram are trying to route their junk according to your interests.
And then there’s million eyez. Real photos by real people.
The only way to visually enrich your content. Curated photo-collections. No more generic stock photos. You can choose a gallery, or single photo, to easily embed in your site. Or, you can open a new Photobox of your own and become the curator! You get to decide what goes in and what stays out. But be careful, curation is addictive. Once you start, you won’t be able to stop! And that’s because you’re a content creator. And since content has evolved, so must you — from creator to curator.
Content is king, but curation is what rules the land.
Long live the king….