Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What is Content Curation?

Does anybody know what content curation means?  I didn't. At least not until recently when I received an email through my blog and thought - huh?  What is this person talking about?

So many yellow flowers
So started several hours of research, not to mention a lively household discussion.  This article has one of the most in depth definitions I have found so far.

In simple terms, there are now websites that are taking the most applicable content they can find on various topics and filing it in a manageable and accessible way.  In a sense this has been happening for quite some time.  Search engines are the most simple example of this.  Type a search term into Google and pages of results will come up related to that term.  Other websites take it a step further.  For instance, the website AllRecipes contains lists of recipes.  You can search through those recipes by ingredient or rating.  The recipes have been curated in a way that they are easily searchable based on personal requirements.


New platforms using content curation are emerging daily.  Some of these sites, like AllRecipes, are focused on a single topic.  Other sites, like Brain Pickings, cut a wide swath across many disciplines.  The idea is that the information you find on them is exclusively picked and considered to be of good quality.

Certainly there's some value to this.  Using search engines to find information can at times be tedious. Like the searching I did for this post in particular.  I came across multitudes of articles but it took a long time to really find what I was looking for.  The internet provides thousands of sources of information on any given topic.  Help in narrowing down the focus is appealing.

But how you do you pick...
The email that started all this discussion was from a new content curation website.  They were asking that I submit my blog posts to their site as curated content.  I found the attention flattering to be honest and some of my research seemed to indicate that I would attain a wider audience for my blog and greater credibility by becoming curated content.

BUT I have some concerns.  Who is doing the curating and what gives them the ability to decide what is the most useful information?  Isn't the very nature of curation to limit content?  Is that what we really want?  An unknown machine or person working behind the scenes limiting the information that we see and deciding what is relevant for us.  Sounds a bit Big Brother doesn't it?

And what is the motive of the website that provides the curation?  Money, as with most everything, is the driving force.  This is business after all.


One interesting aspect of the research I did was that I found information promoting, discussing and rejecting content curation.  On one side people are saying this is the way of the future and on the other people are saying that it is essentially legitimized theft.

Scraping can be a major problem to many bloggers.  But with content curation you are actually giving permission to another site to use your information.  On one hand you get a link back but when you hand over permission you ultimately lose control.

just one?
After hours of debate I still don't know -  am I in support or steadfastly against?

What about you fellow bloggers - have you heard of content curation?  Are we being led down the garden path by those who are looking to make money off our original content or is this a useful function that we should support?

24 comments:

  1. Now that's a real brainful of information to think about isn't it?

    I know that a few sites legitimally repost my blog, but they have permission to do so...others well that's scrapping.

    But I have not heard of content curation, and I can't decide either what side I am on.

    Jen

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    1. Jen, there's so much more to this concept than I was able to explain fully. If you have a few hours to spare it's rather interesting to read up on. One of my issues is that you actually give permission to curators to use your content, but how far does that permission extend? I'm not sure I understand all the implications at this point.

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  2. would you be willing to tell us which content curator emailed you? There is a new garden blog host - sorry, can't find it, he left a comment on one of my posts advertising his service - but I deleted it as spam, with a polite reply to him - as there was no comment related to my post.

    Try googling for a response from bloggers to that content curator? Going to look at your links.
    Ultimately I prefer fewer Readers who comment sometimes, to more silent lurkers who may never read any posts.

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    1. Hi Diana, the company is called Atomic Reach. It's a fairly new company I believe out of Toronto. They emailed me personally so this wasn't a case of spam. They have a section called Garden Gab, there are a number of blogs contributing already. It appears to be on the up and up but the thing is curators are taking our hard work creating original content and using it to make money. I'm wondering where the benefit to me is in this?

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  3. PS I use Google Plus for content curation - there I can circle people I trust for informed content about ... nutrition, global weirding, water conservation ... my gardeners I mostly found via Blotanical, then the comments and blog rolls on the blogs I read.

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  4. one from Jaana in Finland
    https://plus.google.com/u/1/+JaanaNystr%C3%B6m/posts/9wKAC8zZvdy
    and one from Thomas in England
    https://plus.google.com/u/1/+ThomasMorffew/posts/NStNrQz7caS

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    1. Thanks for the links Diana, I could lose myself in reading all these articles. It really is interesting, I can see the points on both sides but I'm struggling to figure out where I personally stand in all of this.

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  5. Haven't heard of content curation, though I have had a few emails lately asking me to join various new garden sites. I've been that route and now don't join anymore. I find the ways to get more visitors is to go out and visit sites and leave positive comments. Some of the blog link parties are good ways to find new blogs and get new visitors. I don't like the idea that someone can take your post and reword it (that's how I read it). In the end it is up to you but do check everything out thoroughly.

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    1. I know what you mean, looking for new blog friends is as simple as going to Blotanical and looking at all the new blogs introduced each month. The funny thing is - Blotanical is actually a content curator too as they compile garden blogs. The more I think of it the more curators I see. I think my biggest hang up is the granting permission to use my posts. The companies accessing those posts want them for a reason and what I have granted permission for them to do?

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  6. This is a new one for me- I have never heard of content curation. I participate on Pinterest and hand over my images to be "pinned". There are days however, when I question this practice. Now we are to consider handing over content as well? I'd have to give the whole thing some serious thought. If I were you, I wouldn't rush into anything.

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    1. Jennifer, when I researched content curation Pininterest came up over and over again. It is one of the many forms of curation out there. I don't use Pininterest but find it fascinating as I've heard there's some issue with copyright and linkage. A photo of one of Jody's pieces ended up on there and has been circulating for some time. We never put it there so it's been rather fascinating to watch its progress.

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  7. A lot of it does seem to come down to who decides and on what basis. As long as search engines like google still exist we will still be able to get at material that hasn't been accepted by a self-styled curator but which we find useful/interesting. I fear these sites play to the laziness most of us suffer from when it comes to assessing content, having just one place to go is a lot easier than havign to do the legwork yourself. On the one hand I always valued the reading lists my University lecturers handed out as I knew they had applied good quality control. On the other hand, how do I know that curated site is using good values, rather than just promoting material from sources they somehow have an interest in? I think my answer is "it depends". Thought provoking post!

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    1. Janet, you've reiterated many of the questions that have been rolling through my head! I just about convince myself of the benefits of this trend and then I step back and go, but what about.... Like so many other forms of technology, it is all changing so fast and it's hard to keep up with the implications.

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  8. I've never heard the term 'content curation' but I'm familiar with similar things. I've gotten a few emails, too, through the blog recently, so there must be a push on or something! I've steered away so far, especially if I google the company and not much comes up for them....For them, tough to be new, I know, but I don't want to give permission to someone to use my stuff if they have no 'cred'.

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    1. Norah, I felt somewhat the same way. If they are new I have nothing to go on about their reputation. A small part of me wondered though if you shouldn't get in on something in the beginning stages.

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  9. Yes, content curation (or reading lists, I like that description!) are everywhere. But curators are all different. With Pinterest it is crowd curating --- everyone does their own assembling and organizing of material, and it is a mess, with poor attribution, links removed, the same photo content repetitively shown over and over across all the "curator's" boards (which doesn't stop me from enjoying Pinterest!).

    Other curations are professional and well done, like Browser dot com which assembles news stories in different categories from publications like newspapers and magazines. I find the stories they pick are well organized and they interest me.

    But in between, there is a host of semi-professional and start up organizers, and they are all vying for good content in narrow categories, like garden blogs. Hard to tell who will do an interesting job and who will just assemble junk from anywhere.

    Fascinating post, and very thought provoking. It's all evolving!

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    1. Thanks for the thoughts Laurrie. One of the concerning things I found was a lot of information instructing people how to become curators. Makes me think there will be a lot of start ups trying to do this and not for the right reasons.

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  10. I hadn't heard of this, so it was interesting to learn about, and to read the comments, too. I wouldn't know what to do, either, but it seems as though these curators are the ones making money, while the blogger is the one working.

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    1. One of the nice things about blogging is when I got this email I knew right away who I could talk to about it! I learn so much from my fellow bloggers and It's great to exchange thoughts on this so if it comes up for others they aren't caught unawares.

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  11. Great, thought provoking post. Like in most things I think there are reputable, quality content providers and others that are not. These sites can be useful resources but at the end of the day we still need to do our research and be careful how things on the internet are used. I think there are lots of issues regarding reusing content, photographs, knowledge. I am O.K. with membership sites (like Blotanical) where you share information with permission. It becomes a problem when it is taken without permission which can happen from a content curator but also other sources.

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    1. Karin, one of my thoughts was content gets scraped no matter what you do so does curation really change anything? But as you point out, not all curators will be cut from the same cloth. Some will likely be more problematic than others.

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  12. My entire blog along with other peoples blogs was reposted on another site. They did not ask my permission nor give me credit. It took a lot of work ie complaining to google to get them shut down. Nowadays I ignore all offers to reuse my stuff on other peoples sites even if they are giving me credit. Others can post a link to my site, no more. Anyone can find my blog. google and other search engines is not the only way. Links to my blog are posted in gardening websites and in facebook groups and word of mouth. I don't need content curation by others to get visitors to my site. People come to my site because I have content they want to read. How to garden in zones 2 and 3.

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  13. I have had some offers to post my blog on various sites, and ignored all of those offers. I may (or may not) join a site that compiles garden blogs, but it is my choosing. When I get a 'cold call' I generally rebuff the offer, whether it is on the phone for a charity or an email asking for my blog posts... I say no. There have been a good number of these emails over the past year. Guess it is the new thing.

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  14. I'm just now catching up on this post, and what an interesting one it is. I suppose I'm a little bewildered at what content curation does above and beyond search engine indexing. I'm tending to lean in the direction of sanctioned borderline scraping/copyright infringement though, but I'm admittedly a self-professed control freak. Certainly the sort of thing I'd have to look into much more deeply before agreeing to something like that. At the moment my cynical side expects that such services simply are after easy revenue, without having to make much effort to produce a product per se. Instead YOU provide the content, but they get the revenue from advertisers as a result of click throughs to your content, and I'm not convinced the paltry traffic you receive in return would necessarily be worth it, or even be the right kind of traffic (in that it may open up your site to bots and spam). Certainly something to ponder.

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