Is Content Curation the New Community Builder?

by Eric Brown |

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 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 ( 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 the Author

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.