Content curation has drawn my interest. I was at a tech conference last week and saw a couple of pretty cool applications for curating content. Setting a side the debate of right or wrong, these new content curation tools will make their mark. Content curation, which involves human filtering and organizing is much different than content aggregation. Content aggregation sites use algorithms to find and link to content. Content curation is the practice of human filtering and organizing what you find interesting and useful.

Over a year ago Mashable reported Why Content Curation Is Here To Stay;

The debate pits creators against curators, asking big questions about the rules and ethical questions around content aggregation. It turns out that lots of smart and passionate people are taking sides and voicing their opinions.

Content aggregation (the automated gathering of links) can be seen on sites like Google News. Overall, this type of aggregation has been seen as a positive thing for content creators and publishers, and up until very recently, it was left to technology. Content creation, meanwhile, was a human effort.

But all that changes with curation — the act of human editors adding their work to the machines that gather, organize and filter content.

“Curation comes up when search stops working,” says author and NYU Professor Clay Shirky. But it’s more than a human-powered filter. “Curation comes up when people realize that it isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community.”

Part of the reason that human curation is so critical is simply the vast number of people who are now making and sharing media. “Everyone is a media outlet”, says Shirky. “The point of everyone being a media outlet is really not at all complicated. It just means that we can all put things out in the public view now.”

Media Curation is the emerging trend toward integrating and pondering media content using a mix of machine and human resources. The practice includes Aggregation (gathering) and Curation (sorting, categorizing, art directing, and presenting) such that material from multiple sources creates a unique editorial experience for readers/visitors.

Media Curation is a complex subject among media professionals, with notable professionals both for and against the practice. Mark Cuban, a well known owner of media properties and sports teams has said that media Aggregators are “vampires” and content creators that don’t ban these so-called vampires are “showing their neck” and likely to have their lifeblood sucked try. Cuban is not alone in this position, many media companies including Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp have taken a stance against content aggregation and curation.

But just as passionate are an emerging class of new publications and editors like Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post and Michael Arrington of TechCrunch. Arrington says Agregators are supporting readers, and business models have to evolve. New companies and services have developed like Pearltrees.

The large and unwieldy volume of content being created and pushed to public space on the web overwhelm individual web browsers. Machines have been able to manage this volume with improved search solutions, and human data input from user tagging, friend recommendations, popularity sites like Digg and Stumble Upon and others have provided discovery alternatives. But content consumers, readers and viewers, also require contextual relevance and aesthetic sorting. So sites like Mediaite.com that gather and organize media news and gossip for media professionals and industry observers arrive to provide a filter that is both quickly aggregated and human filtered.

Fred Wilson, well known venture capitalist and blogger (avc.com) wrote a post that clarifies the changing landscape for publishers on his blog.

“If I was starting The Village Voice today, I would not print anything. I would not hire a ton of writers. I would build a website and a mobile app (or two or three). I would hire a Publisher and a few salespeople. I would hire an editor and a few journalists. And then I’d go out and find every blog, twitter, facebook, flickr, youtube, and other social media feed out there that is related to downtown NYC and I would pull it all into an aggregation system where my editor and journalists could cull through the posts coming in, curate them, and then publish them.”

So, Where are you with this? The world is changing, and with that no one really owns anything anymore. The old model is broken, isn’t it time to move on and embrace these new tools. The value will be in the expertise of the curator, people will not read junk, and the best of the best curators will create digital domination with vibrant communities.

 

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About Eric Brown

Eric Brown

Eric Brown's background is rooted in the rental and real estate industries. He founded metro Detroit’s Urbane Apartments in 2003, after serving as senior vice president for a major Midwest apartment developer. He established a proven track record of effectively repositioning existing rental properties in a way that added value for investors while enhancing the resident experience. He also established The Urbane Way, a social media marketing and PR laboratory, where innovative marketing ideas are tested.

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Francois Rocaboy

    Hi Eric,
    you have put the finger on a very good question “Is content curation the new community builder?”. No doubt I can say “YES”! I am working for Pearltrees, we define as “The social curation community”! In Pearltrees, content is the basic unit of social interactions. Imagine that a community of more than 100.000 curators, curates everydays web contents according to their interests. http://venturebeat.com/2011/04/07/pearltrees-10m-pageviews/

    The 3 reasons why content is a strong community builder (into Pearltrees at least) :

    1. People put great value in content!
    Web users goes to what they need and what they like on the web. Their problem is how to keep those web pages at hand. Favorites and bookmarking is not enough for a huge amout of content. Here Pearltrees comes allowing web users to organize their content by manipulating it. No tag, just a visual representation of where you want to put your stuff. You can remember where you have put something, but it is hard to remember how you tagged something.

    2. Content is social because others’ content are valuable.
    Have you ever wonder why we have to search what others have alredy searched for us? Certainly because it is hard to connect people in the same areas of interest. In Pearltrees, you connect to someone else every time you pick a similar content. So you can explore the parts of other users’ accounts that really matter to you. You can discuss topics you have in common with other users and follow selected parts of others’ accounts.

    3. Collectively, it solves a real problem of the web.
    The real big problem of web users is how to reach the content they want in the minimum of times. Since, it is different for any of us it is difficult to solve. In the real world we have build library for that. In pearltrees, we can team up to organize collaboratively the web content we like. We have built a collaborative and easy-to-use social library for the web.

    Want to try? go to http://www.pearltrees.com

    • Anonymous

      Content Curation is a game Changer
      Hi Francois, Thank you for the detailed comment, we appreciate that. Actually I saw your US guy speak at Future Midwest in Detroit last week, pretty impressed with what I heard about Pearltrees, although we are just starting to actually use the program

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/blog/official-black-seo-guy/ Black Seo Guy

    Yea..I think its here to stay if you ask me..but content do have some competition but not none that can rock content off the mountain..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • http://www.thefourthrevolution.org Jeremie Averous

    Thanks for this very enlightening post. I do fully agree that content curation creates a significantly different value than pure content aggregation in the current Fourth Revolution context.

    Is that very different from the role of mavens in a social network? In all social networks you need people to take more time than the others to connect the dots and bring together information that is important for their network. And it allows tribes to bring together what they are interested in, in a different way.

    Thanks to their available time, people will make the effort to create this value for others and that’s really great. Still the issue remains for us to find the curators and their treasures! They need to know how to make themselves visible in the virtual world, on the search engines, so that the value they created is exploited. They still need to make sure they do the right thing in terms of visibility. And that’s still what’s hard.

    • Anonymous

      Content Curation Will Disrupt Publishing as We Know It
      Hi Jeremie, Thanks for stopping by, I think your comment is spot on. While curating content may seem like an easy answer to content creation, at the end of the day only the folks who have added value to the readership will be able to successfully pull it off.

      • http://www.thefourthrevolution.org Jeremie Averous

        Yes, I agree. Still in our new world it is possible to add value to a particular tribe, spanning a few dozens or hundred individuals across all continents, without any capital investment. And that’s what’s new. It allows many more curators to bring value, and this can be only for a temporary stint. That’s really exciting – the question stays though to find the ones of interest for you!

  • http://www.internetbillboards.net Tom George

    Hi Eric,
    Great article! As the CEO of Internet Billboards I can tell you that building communities around content curators and finding the best information on subjects from a variety of sources while putting a unique spin on the content is most definitely going to be a huge part of the future of the Internet. It is great that we have tools like http://pearltrees.com and http://storify.com to name two that enable this process to work seamlessly.

    • Anonymous

      Content Curation The New Community Builder
      Hi Tom, We agree that the value of the curation will be determined by the filtering skill of the curator, as well as the depth of the following, or dare I say “influence”

  • http://sylvanmedia.com Michael

    Hi Eric,

    Great insight. I think you offer some valuable perspective of the status of content curation” a year after the Mashable article. I am not sure how “new” content curation is as far as a community builder but I definitely think it has considerable implications to how we interact in the digital world.

    Thanks for the post,

    Michael

  • http://www.allurenewmedia.com Brody Dorland

    Nice article Eric…You touched on two specific strategies that we help clients navigate, but I feel like content curation is more of a tactical execution of a community building effort/objective. Not necessarily an apples-to-apples, strategic comparison. Regardless, content curation is exploding as you noted with all the new apps and technologies that are coming out.

    Jay Baer and Joe Pulizzi talked about this concept recently (here: http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/chief-content-officer/podcasts/) and I liked the way Jay summed up the curation idea in that companies that become the best librarian for their industries will be hard to beat. I think he’s right.

    • Anonymous

      Content Curation,
      Hi Brody, I agree with your comment, in that building the community is a sub set of what happens when a skilled curator assembles meaningful and relevant in a single location.

    • http://twitter.com/markivey mark ivey

      Link appears broken…

  • http://g9ine.tumblr.com g9ine

    Where am I with this?

    I find value in the curators, at least the ones curating the topics I’m interested in. They help me wade through the junk and irrelevance the creators publish, as well as provide a second set of eyes to catch the items that may have normally slipped by me.

  • http://www.commonplace.com Mike McGrath

    So where am I with this? Well, we built http://www.commonplace.com to serve the Etsy-eBay-Amazon buyer/seller communities. Buyers and sellers curate, collect and share real world objects. I think our users will prove your statement true, “The best of the best curators will create digital domination with vibrant communities.”

  • http://davidfishman.tumblr.com/ David Fishman

    Working for ecommerce! Moving from page-views to people, to products, collections, and inventory movement.

  • http://davidfishman.tumblr.com/ David Fishman

    Working for ecommerce! Moving from page-views to people, to products, collections, and inventory movement.

  • luissandovaljr

    I believe that businesses do need to adapt to changes in the industry. The aggregation of content does not take away the attribution. Just because someone is not going to the “official” site for the content does not make the content any less relevant. The way I see it, is regardless, it’s an opt in/opt out for the reader. If the reader likes the content and wants to discover where it was published they will click. It’s no different then someone browsing to only read a certain section of the paper, digital or otherwise. If anything, it only serves to provide readers/users with the content that is relevant to them without having to sort through the mess.

    I think aggregation makes things easier to find what you’re looking for, and if the business as a whole were to adapt, perhaps more quality content would be produced making it a fight for the eyeballs of readers.

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  • http://www.marketingtactician.com/ Scott Harris

    Great, post Eric.

    As a huge fan of college football I created:
    http://www.collegefootballobserver.com

    College Football Observer gives me a curated dashboard that aggregates all the news, content, videos, photos, blogs surrounding college football and it really serves my needs. Our community continues to grow and with all the tools coming into their own, pretty much anyone can create their own dashboard of their interest… I also really like the idea of personalized curation pages (i.e. – Pageflakes.com & Netvibes.com).

  • http://twitter.com/CraigDesmarais Craig Desmarais

    The value of content curation is rising in quick in the realm of internet marketing. It is not enough to just discover the best information but you must both organize and utilize it. If it takes you forever to remember where you put that article that sparked an idea or that you wanted to reference it will dampen your productivity. Knowledge is useless if you do not act upon it, put what you have learned into action to help grow your business & reputation, or use it to benefit someone else’s life.

  • Rosabel Tao

    There is a massive amount of information available to us 24-7, which is both a blessing and a curse. A recent Digital Lifestyle Survey conducted by Magnify.net found nearly three-quarters of respondents described their data stream as “a roaring river, a flood, or a massive tidal wave”- the best way to manage this is through “human-filters,” people you can trust to wade through the water so you don’t have to. At Myspace, we provide aggregated and curated content about entertainment. Curators are one of the key ways we provide our users with a more personalized experience. As Eric stated, the real value comes from the expertise of the curator and the relevance and caliber of the content being provided. On Myspace, curators act as guides through the content, offering highlight, insights and ideas. The response from our users indicates our curators are adding great value, as people who follow curators visit the site up to three times more often.

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  • http://twitter.com/KateDavids KatetheRunner

    Absolutely right, the business models must change. I see a divide from how the industry used to be structured to how it works today. Editors and writers used to work in the same building. Editors only used (mostly) their own writers and writers (mostly) wrote for one publication. Now the editors are taking from everywhere, and writers can write for everywhere. Unfortunately, the editors have a easy business model, but I think the authors are getting the short end of the stick… for now. After this all shakes out, I’m sure they’ll be happy again.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000807455833 Cj Gholston

    I think you hit the nail on the head in explained why content curation is so popular. Curating content is almost an art form in itself. Which content is presented, how it is presented and even when it is presented, all work together to create a brand in itself. And if the curator is thoughtful and diligent, the brand builds value. Simple as that.

  • http://getcurata.com Pawan Deshpande

    This post does a great job of highlighting why content curation is not just a new technique or interesting tool, but something that is necessary in the evolution of the modern business model.
    We are constantly bombarded by information – images, videos, articles, and so on – and while we may want to absorb all of this information, it is very difficult for any single person to manage it all.

    We have many techniques to filter information – tagging photos on Facebook so you know which ones contain you, retweeting from friends and colleagues – all of it is part of the curation dynamic, from both a social and business perspective. I believe firmly that when left to our own devices, we simply cannot curate effectively given the volume of online content and the speed at which it is published. Comprehensive curation tools exist precisely for this reason.

    Pawan Deshpande
    getcurata.com
    CEO, HiveFire (creators of content curation solution Curata)

  • http://getcurata.com Pawan Deshpande

    This post does a great job of highlighting why content curation is not just a new technique or interesting tool, but something that is necessary in the evolution of the modern business model.
    We are constantly bombarded by information – images, videos, articles, and so on – and while we may want to absorb all of this information, it is very difficult for any single person to manage it all.

    We have many techniques to filter information – tagging photos on Facebook so you know which ones contain you, retweeting from friends and colleagues – all of it is part of the curation dynamic, from both a social and business perspective. I believe firmly that when left to our own devices, we simply cannot curate effectively given the volume of online content and the speed at which it is published. Comprehensive curation tools exist precisely for this reason.

    Pawan Deshpande
    getcurata.com
    CEO, HiveFire (creators of content curation solution Curata)

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  • http://www.kbucket.com Karan Bavandi

    KBucket is a curation solution with a powerful authoring tool (http://bit.ly/oxTGBJ) and a search/curation platform that lets you organized hundreds of links in catgeories like this page on search and social Media (http://bit.ly/iFV9k6) – Curation will be used to solve some of challenges with content stratey in social media marketing, customer and product support as well as News curation and research reference for all kinkds of topics like the developments in Middle East here (http://bit.ly/llKa0V). 

  • http://www.theuniuni.com/ cheap bras

    Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

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  • http://feedcurator.com/ FeedCurator

    Good point Eric. It seems like common sense that one should identify their target audience to deliver the best content in the world. This is what Feed Curator do.