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What is content curation?

Wed 05 Sep 2012 14:31:20 | 3 comments
What is content curation?

“Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme”.  

This work  involves  sifting, sorting, arranging, aggregating and “cherry-picking” the best content that is important and relevant to share with your community/audience. It’s not just about gathering links and collating information, it’s about putting information into context, organising it and helping people make sense of it.

Beth Kanter’s blog emphasises the importance of the Three S’s of Content Curation:  Seek, Sense, Share i.e. seek, make sense of,  and share the best and most relevant content on a particular topic.

The Ideal Content Curation Primer

The role
  • A content curator offers high value to anyone looking for quality content because finding that information (and making sense of it) requires more and more time, attention, and focus.
  • It isn’t unlike what a museum curator does to produce an exhibition:   They identify the theme, they provide the context, they decide which paintings to hang on the wall, how they should be annotated, and how they should be displayed for the public.
  • Unlike automated services (such as Google News), the essential difference of curation is that there's a human being doing the sifting, sorting, arranging, and publishing.

What tools can help you curate content?

The following tools can help you deal with the “flood of content being created online”:

Tips for better content curation (adapted from article “Content Curation is King” by Sean Carton)

To truly succeed as a curator, you need to think like a curator (not just an aggregator) and keep the following in mind:
  1. People matter. Your goal should be to build a community, and communities are made up of people. You need to know your audience intimately and have an innate sense for what they're interested in. And like any good social media effort, you also need to nurture that community through your actions.

  2. It's a commitment. Just like any social media effort, unless you clearly state from the beginning that you're doing this for a limited time for a specific reason (such as curating content around a particular event or conference), the expectation is that you're going to be an ongoing resource for your readers. Bailing out unexpectedly is damaging to your brand and your reputation.

  3. What you leave out is as important as what you leave in. Obviously, you can't include everything online in your curation efforts. And you definitely don't want to. The content you include (and exclude) speaks to your point of view about a particular topic…think of it as "writing with links." Choose your content carefully and make sure it's consistent with your overall messaging and brand strategy.

  4. Exhibitions vs. permanent collections. How often you refresh your content is your choice. There will always be a continuous firehose of content spewing out on the web, but you might want to think about the "classics" that should stay in your collection and what should be rotated out. You may even want to collect content around a particular sub-topic and archive it if it's worthy of being saved.

  5. Think "niche." There are plenty of sites out there now that cover broad topic areas and have large, embedded audiences. Drawing readers away to a collection that covers a similar broad topic can be tough…if not impossible. If you want to curate a collection and draw attention, you'll probably have better luck focusing on a niche topic specific to your (or your client's) industry.

  6. It's not just the objects in the collection…it's making sense of those objects. Interpreting the collection is one of a curator's essential tasks and one that's accomplished by explaining to visitors why an object is important in the context of the larger exhibit. You can add a lot of value to your online "collection" by providing context.

  7. Focus on becoming a "resource," not just an "event." If you want to keep drawing visitors, you need to establish your collection as the go-to place for what they're looking for. Knowing your audience and understanding their needs are essential for curating a collection that's going to provide ongoing value over time.

  8. Design matters. As usability guru Don Norman stated so well, "attractive things work better." You need to focus on designing a user experience that's not only attractive but usable. Ideally the design should contribute to the overall experience, highlighting the most important content, guiding users to what they're looking for, and fostering community.
Content Curation Primer by Beth Kanter http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/
Content Curation is King” by Sean Carton http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2104954/content-curation-king


Hugely useful, thanks Yaso
I am interested in learning more about the aspects Michelle has identified - e.g. we have many documents on our website, but I am not clear how to make them easily findable/more visible on e.g. google? it seems much African research sitting on websites is not easy to find on the web through normal search engine processes, and I am wondering what we are doing wrong :)
Thank Michelle - I've contacted my web-developers about this and hopefully we can improve on what we are doing.


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