Angela Dunn
November 9, 2013

The Future of Curation is Evergreen


By Angela Dunn @blogbrevity

What is Content Curation?

Content curation is much more than simply collecting things you like. To be an effective curator, you need to have the eye of an editor, a sense of taste like a chef, and your own unique Point of View. It is this Point of View – your taste – that can lead to authority and influence.

But a Point of View is something that takes time to develop. It requires mastery of a subject – and a passion. Malcolm Gladwell estimates it takes 10,000 hours devoted to a subject to achieve mastery.

But it is only with a Point of View that you can begin the process of finding, organizing, and editing the information you deem worthy to share with the community you hope to engage.

Why Is Content Curation Important?

Done well, content curation is sense-making.

And in our 21st century digital social world, we need great content curators to help us make sense of it all. The amount of content is growing exponentially, but our time is limited. Curators are our filters for information overload – the editors of chaos.

Content Curation Evolution

When I was first asked to speak on the topic of content curation in 2011, most popular definitions for curation at that time only focused on aggregation. In my presentations, I introduced this idea of a Point of View, and my definition of content curation:

“Content curation is the art and science of 
finding, organizing, and, editing information – on a specific topic, from your Point of View. When you share your curation, it is this POV – your taste – that adds value for, and encourages engagement with, the people you hope to influence. It is a cyclical process: What you find, and what you post, also influences what people search and find about you.” – Angela Dunn

Machine Curation vs. Human Curation

As curation became increasingly popular, so did curation tools. Then came Pinterest and Tumblr, and the idea of visual curation exploded. Everyone was a curator.

The slew of content curation tools that emerged gave way to algorithms. Can a machine have a Point of View? Machines can influence your Point of View. The danger is they can also create a filter bubble.

Increasingly, we are seeing the value of quality human curators.

It is human insight coupled with machine results that can define the very best information edited from a trusted curator’s Point of View.

How Does Curation Become Thought Leadership?

While good curators can provide a lens, the very best become thought leaders.

Also in 2010, I wrote a post that compared a curator to a D.J. – a Thought Leader D.J. It got over 45K views. Today, this post, “Curating Content for Thought Leadership”, continues to provide value. It is permamarked, and saved for posterity.

This type of post, often referred to as “evergreen” or a “pillar post”, is curated and written in a way that makes it relevant over an extended period of time. And that is where I see curation is headed.

The Future of Curation is Evergreen

I am not sure, but I may have already spent 10,000 hours curating content for my own work and that of clients. But curation to date has mostly been ephemeral. Much of our content is distributed on shared platforms and through curation tools. We want to be part of these communities. It is the essence of social. But these platforms can go away.

The popular Posterous platform where I had my blog was shut down at the end of May by Twitter. Not only did this affect blogs like mine, but all the communities built around them. My friend, fine artist and designer, Shell Rummel, describes the loss in “The Future is an Archive”:

“To have to recreate it someplace else was like –– like an energy drain – I wanted to recreate it, but time to decide where to put it, where to put all the art, where to sow it again. Do I really want to build new relationships, is that what I am looking for? Or am I looking for posterity, to keep my art out there, somewhere, so there is a record of it? You know, it’s a really interesting question.” – Shell Rummel

Not only did we lose Posterous posts, but everywhere they were shared and curated became dead links.

Luckily, I was able to save all my Posterous posts with a new tool for archiving the web  – Permamarks. That is why I can still share my Thought Leader D.J. post with you today.

The value of quality curation is only going to increase exponentially. The trend will be to create long term value. People will want to keep their own record – from their Point of View.  These are the curators who will build authority. The future vision of the Internet is an “alternative search engine” growing out of archived curation according to Permamarks 23-year old developer Matisse VerDuyn.

Those that invest time in creating permanent repositories of carefully curated, valued content will be investing in and contributing to the future of knowledge. A worthwhile endeavor indeed.

Q&A with Angela Dunn

1.  Clearly, a machine cannot (yet) have a point of view but do you think the filter bubble algorithms largely cater for individual points of view?

According to Stephen Smith, “A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.” Machine-based learning is linear, and will cater to “interests”, but the complex connections between interests that create insights and form a person’s point of view cannot be readily replicated.

With a heightened concern over privacy, you will begin to see more tools empowering individuals to control what information machines have access to.

2.  Curating through your individual point of view adds humanity to marketing.  Do you think personal branding and marketing through curation has hit a zenith?  Can this trend continue for much longer in the face of the surely oncoming technology onslaught?

Human curation is necessary for sense-making. This will result in a continued need to organize one’s “knowledge corpus”. Machine projects, like Google’s Knowledge Graph, are mapping knowledge based on connections. We are in a post-marketing social world, and one’s connections are increasingly important. The opportunity for individuals and brands is to seriously think about how they architect community, and how they provide value through knowledge to that community. We will increasingly see people coming together over shared values, and not just shared interests.

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