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David Lee King

What’s a Content Curator?



good bookRohit Bhargava, blogger at the Influential Marketing Blog and author of Personality Not Included: Why Companies Lose Their Authenticity And How Great Brands Get it Back, just posted Manifesto For The Content Curator: The Next Big Social Media Job Of The Future? You should go read it.

Rohit explains that a “Content Curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online.” OK – you and I both know these exist already, right? That’s what librarians do … especially special librarians in corporations (well, those that have them, anyway). But do they really?

Read Rohit’s job description for this person – it’s a bit different than your ordinary librarian job:

In the near future, experts predict that content on the web will double every 72 hours. The detached analysis of an algorithm will no longer be enough to find what we are looking for. To satisfy the people’s hunger for great content on any topic imaginable, there will need to be a new category of individual working online. Someone whose job it is not to create more content, but to make sense of all the content that others are creating. To find the best and most relevant content and bring it forward. The people who choose to take on this role will be known as Content Curators. The future of the social web will be driven by these Content Curators, who take it upon themselves to collect and share the best content online for others to consume and take on the role of citizen editors, publishing highly valuable compilations of content created by others. In time, these curators will bring more utility and order to the social web. In doing so, they will help to add a voice and point of view to organizations and companies that can connect them with customers – creating an entirely new dialogue based on valued content rather than just brand created marketing messages.

What do you think? Are librarians doing this now? Yes, we are for print stuff – we have that down pretty well. But how about for online & social media content? I don’t think so. I don’t think ANYONE has this nailed yet!

Thoughts? Share on my blog or on Rohit’s way-cool blog.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.hawidu.com/ Brad Czerniak

    No.
    It’s ambiguous whether ‘experts’ have already predicted that the amount of information on the web will double or whether they will. Either way, that sounds ridiculous in an exponential sort of way.

    The other problem with the notion is that humans are much slower at processing and indexing information than computers. If search engines won’t be able to keep up, there’s no chance that a human will. Yahoo was once a human-submitted directory. Crawler-based engines like Google proved their ability and took over the market. The model calls for less human intervention, not more.

    Dealing with information overload is a question of relevancy ranking. That’s why companies pay lots of money in advertising and SEO to be visible for keywords on search engines. The most relevant, viewed, linked, etc. content will bubble to the top for a given topic. Some sites will aggregate similar content, whether it’s done by humans or machines.

  • http://www.hawidu.com Brad Czerniak

    No.
    It’s ambiguous whether ‘experts’ have already predicted that the amount of information on the web will double or whether they will. Either way, that sounds ridiculous in an exponential sort of way.

    The other problem with the notion is that humans are much slower at processing and indexing information than computers. If search engines won’t be able to keep up, there’s no chance that a human will. Yahoo was once a human-submitted directory. Crawler-based engines like Google proved their ability and took over the market. The model calls for less human intervention, not more.

    Dealing with information overload is a question of relevancy ranking. That’s why companies pay lots of money in advertising and SEO to be visible for keywords on search engines. The most relevant, viewed, linked, etc. content will bubble to the top for a given topic. Some sites will aggregate similar content, whether it’s done by humans or machines.

  • http://socialmediatools.ca Brent MacKinnon

    I think Stephen Downes is the closest to an content curator that I know of. I think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head with your premise. Great post, I’ll be curating this one for sure.

    Brent MacKinnon

  • Lissa staley

    This reminds me of a comparison discussion I had earlier today comparing vize with consumersearch.com. Sure, they both compile product reviews, but Vize is just searching product reviews but consumersearch has analysis of the information. Consumersearch is like a content curator role for product reviews maybe? I think that the human element is important if you are relying on that analysis and commentary instead of just the results of a keyword search. Depending on who is compiling the info, I value and trust the info differently.

  • Lissa staley

    This reminds me of a comparison discussion I had earlier today comparing vize with consumersearch.com. Sure, they both compile product reviews, but Vize is just searching product reviews but consumersearch has analysis of the information. Consumersearch is like a content curator role for product reviews maybe? I think that the human element is important if you are relying on that analysis and commentary instead of just the results of a keyword search. Depending on who is compiling the info, I value and trust the info differently.

  • Lissa staley

    Oops–Wize is the new review site– I obviously wasn’t impressed enough to remember it correctly! Use consumersearch.com instead!

  • Lissa staley

    Oops–Wize is the new review site– I obviously wasn’t impressed enough to remember it correctly! Use consumersearch.com instead!

  • http://blogfestattiffanys.wordpress.com/ John Nebauer

    In a sense some of this work is done via social networking, so searches for relevant information occur in delicious or twitter, rather then through google. The better quality stuff (in a relevant field) will get talked about because it’s good/relevant, so it’s being filtered by people rather than by algorithms. How will this happen? Will a content curator simply publish the ‘best’ stuff on their own site, for example. Interesting and thought-provoking stuff.

  • http://blogfestattiffanys.wordpress.com John Nebauer

    In a sense some of this work is done via social networking, so searches for relevant information occur in delicious or twitter, rather then through google. The better quality stuff (in a relevant field) will get talked about because it’s good/relevant, so it’s being filtered by people rather than by algorithms. How will this happen? Will a content curator simply publish the ‘best’ stuff on their own site, for example. Interesting and thought-provoking stuff.

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  • http://walt.lishost.org/ walt crawford

    As Brad says, the “double every 72 hours” (which morphs from “some estimates”–with no supporting link–to “experts say,” a much more general statement) is so problematic as to be nonsensical. (It would mean that, at the end of the first month, there would be more than 1,000 times as much data as at the beginning–thus, after the second month, more than one million times, after the third, more than one billion times, after the fourth…well, you reach the number of atoms in the universe fairly quickly.)

  • http://walt.lishost.org walt crawford

    As Brad says, the “double every 72 hours” (which morphs from “some estimates”–with no supporting link–to “experts say,” a much more general statement) is so problematic as to be nonsensical. (It would mean that, at the end of the first month, there would be more than 1,000 times as much data as at the beginning–thus, after the second month, more than one million times, after the third, more than one billion times, after the fourth…well, you reach the number of atoms in the universe fairly quickly.)

  • http://wrongagain.wordpress.com/ Genesis Hansen

    A lot of bloggers are doing exactly this – curating and aggregating content, usually on a particular topic or a somewhat narrow range of topics. It seems like a pretty logical step for libraries, but so far I haven’t seen much of it in any official capacity in library organizations. It’s been left for interested individuals to pursue on their own.

  • http://wrongagain.wordpress.com Genesis Hansen

    A lot of bloggers are doing exactly this – curating and aggregating content, usually on a particular topic or a somewhat narrow range of topics. It seems like a pretty logical step for libraries, but so far I haven’t seen much of it in any official capacity in library organizations. It’s been left for interested individuals to pursue on their own.

  • http://www.export.ac.nz/ Graeme Siddle

    Really interesting post David. Thanks. I think that probably there are many librarians performing this role but not focusing entirely on web content as you say. Librarians are the obvious professionals to move into this role using their skills of:
    – locating digital information
    – evaluating the information found and making decisions on how to use it
    – knowing their clients and their needs
    – analyzing and making sense of the information so that it can be used
    – organising, storing and preserving the information for future uses.

    These information literacy skills are ones that the librarian as an information specialist has.
    I would salute the employer who hires someone as a content curator – searching online and through social networking sites takes so long!
    The use of the word ‘curator’ challenged me – it made me think immediately of museum and art galleries where stuff is being preserved and yet I know that curators work at making sense of objects and works of art before making them available for the public. Maybe if CCs become a reality I’d get used to the idea.
    I’ll be posting about this on my own blog too which focuses on Trade Librarian and Information Professionals – a challenge for us: http://www.tralis.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.export.ac.nz Graeme Siddle

    Really interesting post David. Thanks. I think that probably there are many librarians performing this role but not focusing entirely on web content as you say. Librarians are the obvious professionals to move into this role using their skills of:
    – locating digital information
    – evaluating the information found and making decisions on how to use it
    – knowing their clients and their needs
    – analyzing and making sense of the information so that it can be used
    – organising, storing and preserving the information for future uses.

    These information literacy skills are ones that the librarian as an information specialist has.
    I would salute the employer who hires someone as a content curator – searching online and through social networking sites takes so long!
    The use of the word ‘curator’ challenged me – it made me think immediately of museum and art galleries where stuff is being preserved and yet I know that curators work at making sense of objects and works of art before making them available for the public. Maybe if CCs become a reality I’d get used to the idea.
    I’ll be posting about this on my own blog too which focuses on Trade Librarian and Information Professionals – a challenge for us: http://www.tralis.blogspot.com/

  • http://rohitbhargava.typepad.com/ Rohit

    Hi all,
    Interesting points that several of you raised, particularly on the stat. It was something I heard in a presentation, but I don’t have a link to prove it, so I’m totally willing to admit that is may be an exaggeration. 78% of stats are totally fabricated anyway.

    The more important point, however, is that content online is exploding and will continue to grow exponentially (regardless of what you feel the actual exponent will be). The reason I love the fact that this conversation moves in the realm of Library 2.0 is because most digital folks tend to talk in terms of content creation. Even the “Chief Content Officer” concept is partially about creating content rather than just curating it. Librarians, on the other hand, could certainly be authors – but in most cases they are not. The value they bring is to help bring out the best content and connect it to people. That is a skill that many corporations need, and few realize they are missing.

  • http://rohitbhargava.typepad.com Rohit

    Hi all,
    Interesting points that several of you raised, particularly on the stat. It was something I heard in a presentation, but I don’t have a link to prove it, so I’m totally willing to admit that is may be an exaggeration. 78% of stats are totally fabricated anyway.

    The more important point, however, is that content online is exploding and will continue to grow exponentially (regardless of what you feel the actual exponent will be). The reason I love the fact that this conversation moves in the realm of Library 2.0 is because most digital folks tend to talk in terms of content creation. Even the “Chief Content Officer” concept is partially about creating content rather than just curating it. Librarians, on the other hand, could certainly be authors – but in most cases they are not. The value they bring is to help bring out the best content and connect it to people. That is a skill that many corporations need, and few realize they are missing.

  • http://www.FindingDulcinea.com/ Mark Moran

    At findingDulcinea, our tagline is “librarian of the Internet” – and we have reserved the URL “CuratorOfTheInternet” – we have long seen the need for someone to play this role. Internet users want to view content from a broad array of sources; thus the popularity of search engines and recommendation services. And yet search engine satisfaction is plummeting, and the recommendation services provide content a mile wide and an inch deep, and are fraught with conflicts. When we create Beyond the Headlines articles at findingDulcinea, much of our effort is invested in finding the best links on the Web that will provide full context to the story, and then weaving them together into a coherent theme. We’ve all read the articles asking whether search engines have made us stupid, by causing us to skim across the surface of the Web without ever fully understanding anything we read; curators are the antidote, and the need for them will become much more apparent as Internet users become continually more aware of just how poorly search engines serve them.

  • http://www.FindingDulcinea.com Mark Moran

    At findingDulcinea, our tagline is “librarian of the Internet” – and we have reserved the URL “CuratorOfTheInternet” – we have long seen the need for someone to play this role. Internet users want to view content from a broad array of sources; thus the popularity of search engines and recommendation services. And yet search engine satisfaction is plummeting, and the recommendation services provide content a mile wide and an inch deep, and are fraught with conflicts. When we create Beyond the Headlines articles at findingDulcinea, much of our effort is invested in finding the best links on the Web that will provide full context to the story, and then weaving them together into a coherent theme. We’ve all read the articles asking whether search engines have made us stupid, by causing us to skim across the surface of the Web without ever fully understanding anything we read; curators are the antidote, and the need for them will become much more apparent as Internet users become continually more aware of just how poorly search engines serve them.

  • Bobsled

    But curators have to earn the right to be called curators. What makes a staff of researchers curators that anyone would actually admire or turn to?

    Look at Twitter. You can’t get or keep followers unless you’re actually good at what you do. People like the freedom to pick and choose the curators they get their information from.

  • Bobsled

    But curators have to earn the right to be called curators. What makes a staff of researchers curators that anyone would actually admire or turn to?

    Look at Twitter. You can’t get or keep followers unless you’re actually good at what you do. People like the freedom to pick and choose the curators they get their information from.

  • http://farofflibrarian.blogspot.com/ Disobedientlib

    What if there were a platform that melded features of Wikipedia and delicious/Diigo (and that could identify duplicate urls at minimum) and that librarians and other content experts around the world (it would somehow need to be able to keep out spammers, marketers, etc.) could harness and collaborate on to both identify, coherently tag, annotate and share web and social media resources? Users could then search the entire thing, subscribe to tags or content contributors, etc. A sort of un-WorldCat?

    A total pipe dream, I know, but one can dream…

  • http://farofflibrarian.blogspot.com Disobedientlib

    What if there were a platform that melded features of Wikipedia and delicious/Diigo (and that could identify duplicate urls at minimum) and that librarians and other content experts around the world (it would somehow need to be able to keep out spammers, marketers, etc.) could harness and collaborate on to both identify, coherently tag, annotate and share web and social media resources? Users could then search the entire thing, subscribe to tags or content contributors, etc. A sort of un-WorldCat?

    A total pipe dream, I know, but one can dream…

  • http://shapinglibraries.wordpress.com/ Gerrit

    Graeme Siddle above mentions what I think will define the true Content Curator from an irrelevant Content Distributor/presenter: the ability to preserve content. In the future, curators in libraries (closest similar model today would probably be special collections librarians) will not only need to make sense of the information out there but also to preserve the information for the future. How do we preserve a website? Even the Internet Archive is missing links and images that the original site had. It is also a website, itself inherently unstable. Likewise, CD shelf-life can be as short as 10 years. We need some device, some medium, which can replicate the experience of navigating the digital content without having to rely on a particular hardware system which will not exist in 50 years (dare I say 15 years?). So far there is no such thing but there is a desperate need for it. To curate content a librarian will need to utilize innovate ways of finding and organizing, but also as-yet undiscovered techniques at preserving both analog and digital content.

  • http://shapinglibraries.wordpress.com Gerrit

    Graeme Siddle above mentions what I think will define the true Content Curator from an irrelevant Content Distributor/presenter: the ability to preserve content. In the future, curators in libraries (closest similar model today would probably be special collections librarians) will not only need to make sense of the information out there but also to preserve the information for the future. How do we preserve a website? Even the Internet Archive is missing links and images that the original site had. It is also a website, itself inherently unstable. Likewise, CD shelf-life can be as short as 10 years. We need some device, some medium, which can replicate the experience of navigating the digital content without having to rely on a particular hardware system which will not exist in 50 years (dare I say 15 years?). So far there is no such thing but there is a desperate need for it. To curate content a librarian will need to utilize innovate ways of finding and organizing, but also as-yet undiscovered techniques at preserving both analog and digital content.

  • http://librarianscience.wordpress.com/ Kaitlyn

    Our library does this for our staff. We spend a good chunk of time trawling the web, in addition to print sources, for information that we abstract, condense, and send directly to staff every week, and we post it on our site (http://library.sandiegozoo.org/news.htm). It makes the library a bit more prominent in the organization, and we can make sure everyone who works here is getting the newest, most relevant info to do their jobs.

  • http://librarianscience.wordpress.com Kaitlyn

    Our library does this for our staff. We spend a good chunk of time trawling the web, in addition to print sources, for information that we abstract, condense, and send directly to staff every week, and we post it on our site (http://library.sandiegozoo.org/news.htm). It makes the library a bit more prominent in the organization, and we can make sure everyone who works here is getting the newest, most relevant info to do their jobs.

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  • http://findingeducation.com/ Mark Moran

    Disobedientlib, we’ve released an alpha version of findingEducation (http://findingeducation.com/), a platform that does much of what you dream of. Librarians and teachers contribute links to a library, with tags & descriptions, and can search other each others’ links, including by name, grade level, and subject. The search is a little clunky at the moment but will be enhanced very shortly. The tool also allows you to use SweetSearch, our Google custom search engine that only searches 35,000 quality URLs, to find good links.

  • http://findingeducation.com/ Mark Moran

    Disobedientlib, we’ve released an alpha version of findingEducation (http://findingeducation.com/), a platform that does much of what you dream of. Librarians and teachers contribute links to a library, with tags & descriptions, and can search other each others’ links, including by name, grade level, and subject. The search is a little clunky at the moment but will be enhanced very shortly. The tool also allows you to use SweetSearch, our Google custom search engine that only searches 35,000 quality URLs, to find good links.

  • http://socialmediatools.ca/ Brent MacKinnon

    I think Stephen Downes is the closest to an content curator that I know of. I think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head with your premise. Great post, I'll be curating this one for sure.

    Brent MacKinnon

  • davetribbett

    Good post, here's a couple posts that link digital content to the library, also discusses the importance of curating in a digital age. The librarians need to somehow get control of the important content otherwise its the wild west! Here are the links:
    Curating content
    and
    Information and Content topics

  • http://www.myoptimind.com/search-engine-optimization.html christine@seo philippines

    Thanks for the good info! You really gave valuable information..:)

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