Have you ever wondered why apps like Instagram and social networks and content management tools like Pinterest and Tumblr are so popular? Why is digital media consumption passing print and other traditional media outlets? Think about your favorite friends on Facebook and Twitter and what qualities they possess that make them so good. What’s your noise to value ratio across the web? Are you sick of rhetorical questions? Digital curation will be an important part of the internet eco-system going forward, so it’s worth taking a look at what digital curation is and isn’t.
Digital media curation is just a fancy way of explaining the process of organizing pre-existing content in a unique and interesting way (ideally.) Good curation entails adding something of value to existing content. Let’s go over a few ways that content is curated online:
More and more people are turning to digital mediums to get their news. Check out this awesome infograph from Pew on the State of the Media in 2012 for proof of that bold claim. Also, what constitutes “news” is changing. The internet allows more interest-based decisions (as opposed to news being force-fed) which in-turn leads to changes in what’s considered news on a per-person basis. All of these factors lead to people seeking out new and reliable sources of content. Again, this puts a premium on quality curators.
Blogs have long been a source of information (relatively speaking of course) and part of their popularity is due to the fact that (theoretically) anyone can create and operate a blog. Unfortunately, the sheer ease of starting a blog means there’s quite a few blogs out there, that for lack of a better term, are terrible. Luckily, diligent curators are out there sifting through the bad ones for you and finding the diamonds in the rough.
Most social networks want their users to continuously share content with other users. Services like Facebook and Twitter are prime examples of how user-generated content can turn a channel into a media juggernaut. Facebook’s emphasis on “Timelines” and cover photos is another indicator that the more popular aspects of Facebook continue to be the media that users share. If the media is what people crave, the curators are what they need.
Let’s take a look at a social network that has been taking the web by storm. Pinterest lets users digitally “pin” content to albums they create. Albums can then be created and labeled any the user sees fit. Examples of album titles could include art, food, landscapes, fashion, mythology, etc… The power of Pinterest boils down to accessibility and curation. When you find someone who has excellent pins you can check out their albums and subscribe to as many as you like. This allows people to form social networks around interests. This is digital curation with a social twist and users are eating it up.
Instagram has taken the app world by storm because it allows users to highlight and take pictures of things that they think are interesting, beautiful, weird or whatever it is they’re going for. Enabled by social networks (Facebook bought Instagram for a breezy $1 Billion) users can find friends who use the service and subscribe to their photos. This filtering system based on interest and social networks, continues to be an essential part of the web eco-system.
Filtering the Noise
One of the issues social networks (and pretty much anyone who uses the internet) face on a daily basis is how to effectively filter content. Everyone has encountered this issue.
Maybe it’s those friends who are constantly requesting you join a social game they’re playing or perhaps there’s someone who shares just a wee bit too much on a regular basis in your news feed. Those are examples of what I refer to as “noise.” Noise is anything that isn’t adding value to your online life. The goal is to reduce noise and increase value.
While it’s probably not possible to eliminate all of the noise we want to create the equivalent of the “spam” folder for your email box and apply it to the web at large. As the internet continues to morph into this ever-connected environment, keeping the noise low and the value high has never been more important.
Quick Access To Good Content
Curators (whether they know it or not) provide a critical service for internet users. By consolidating focused areas of content they make the massive amounts of data being generated online a little bit easier to parse through for regular users. When you find a great Pinterest board or Twitter user you’re essentially finding an awesome new channel of content.
|A Buddhist Sangha
Hubs of Like-Minded Individuals
A good curator also has the potential to be an excellent networker. By organizing pre-existing content into a new entity, like-minded people end up congregating around the new creation. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog, twitter account or just excellent Facebook status updates, the same principle applies: like attracts like.
When people gather round the proverbial campfire to share stories (or in this case content) the opportunity to find and meet new and interesting people is amplified. This is why blogrolls are an excellent way of spreading the internet wealth. Regardless of your interests, it’s safe to say there is someone out there who’s into what you’re into.
These are just a few examples of how cotent curation can improve online experiences and interactions. As the web continues to evolve content curation will continue to hold an important place in the digital world. There’s always going to be a demand for people who can sort through content and find the gems.