Curating your way through the information firehose
Is content curation new, is it something to get excited about? Should you be doing it?
From my perspective, the concept of content curation is not new. The reason is that for many years I have been, amongst other things, a journalist. And as a journalist – be it a writer or editor – I was curating on a daily basis. Only it wasn’t called curating, it was called researching and editing. I was finding and selecting stories that I would package up for my readers. This worked well if I selected stories that others found interesting and useful. It was interest-driven – I knew the topics my readers wanted to read about and I endeavored to find them every day.
I always thought curators worked in museums and editors worked for publishers. But the web changed that and everything got blurred. Out of this came new names for the disciplines that we have always undertaken, even if they were carried out in a different context i.e. a museum. So, don’t be put off by the semantics – curation (the finding and sharing of relevant information) is incredibly useful.
With the exponential rise in data on the web being produced by ever more users we are presented with a firehose of information. Historically – in the bricks and mortar world, information was curated by a number of people – shops, cinemas, radio, television, newspapers, magazine s and so on – they all made and make decisions about what to sell, publicise and market.
But in our digital world we can choose to find out what we need to know in more diverse ways – from friends, from peer groups, through communities, families – the network that you are a part of – and through discovery. Technology enables us to seek out info and for that info to seek us out.
Step up curators. Now we have a much clearer idea of who someone is and what they know and because we follow them and trust them we enjoy what they share and are happy to recommend it. Now think about if that person is you or your company. What you share is potentially of great value to others. Your filtering of the web and the recommendations you make can be incredibly useful – you can help make sense of the part of the web and the part of the wider network that you look at.
There are now a number of tools to help you find, filter and recommend content. The tools to support curating this content are increasingly easy to use – there is a great – and regularly updated list of curation tools provided by Robin Good.
Recently, I was asked to speak on curation in learning (I also run LearnPatch a site that looks at learning and development where I curate five posts a day on the homepage) and to prepare I opened up a Google document for people to share their thinking.
It was an incredibly useful exercise in terms of finding out how people view the idea of content curation for learning. The feeling is that it is useful but to make it powerful you need to be able to tell a story in the way you curate.
As a result of contributions to the Google doc I created this short video (7 mins). I was also lucky enough to interview Sam Burrough and find out how his company – Unum – is using curation tool Scoop.it to find, filter and share relevant content around the organization.
Without doubt curation is here to stay as the amount of information on the web continues to increase. And as author of Curation Nation Steve Rosenbaum says in this interview, the opportunity is there to become the trusted source of information in your area of expertise.