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Curation Nation Says Clinton Knows His Stuff

by Kristina Halvorson on March 3rd, 2011

Curation Nation, a book by Steven Rosenbaum

I've been enjoying my copy of Steven Rosenbaum's Curation Nation this week. He's, er, curated the opinions and insights of content experts from every corner of the industry, from web folks to social media wonks, from media personalities to prominent publishers.

So there I am, reading along, when suddenly I happily stumble upon a section entitled, "Content Strategists." OMG! I thought to myself. My favorite topic! As I eagerly continued, I suddenly gasped with surprise. There on the page was a reference to "Blogger Clinton Forry" … a Brain Traffic staffer and the guy behind the beloved @wd45 moniker!

And it wasn't just a quick reference. Oh, no. Rosenbaum has clearly drunk the Clinton Kool-Aid. Republished with the author's permission, here's Clinton's perspective on curation, beautifully contextualized by the King of Curation, himself:

Content Strategists
 
While the emerging curation ecosystem may leave the highbrow and pedigreed museum curation crowd with a furrowed brow, there’s another group who are equally troubled by the rise of human-powered finding and filtering—and that’s the code-centric solutions crowd that has been searching for the holy grail of machine-powered (or crowd-sourced) finding and filtering. This is the aggregation camp. And they too are anxious to see the emerging but noisy curation community replaced by elegant code.

Blogger Clinton Forry has the most cogent distinction I’ve read so far:

  • Aggregation is automated
  • Aggregation collects content based on criteria in the form of metadata or keywords
  • Criteria can be adjusted, but remain static otherwise
  • Follows a preset frequency of publishing [as available, weekly, etc.]

 It isn’t that Forry thinks aggregation isn’t important, it’sthat he thinks it doesn’t do the whole job. It gets you only partway there. He explains “. . . aggregation excludes the important, active, and ongoing editorial approval from the process of gathering content. Aggregation has its place. It is easy to set and forget. It requires considerably less staff resources. With carefully selected criteria and sources, it may actually serve the purpose you seek.” 

Forry is one of the new and growing number of consultants and advisors who call themselves content strategists. These are folks who are hired to make sure that Web sites are built to encourage vibrant content, rather than stale “publish and forget it” content. He defines curation this way:

  • Curation is, in part, a manual task
  • Starts with sources to parse
  • Evaluates content individually based on established editorial criteria
  • Weighs content based on context, current events, branding, sentiment, etc.
  • Publishes approved content on appropriate schedule

So, if you buy the notion that we’re moving from a world of content scarcity to content abundance, and that you—like all of us—are facing content overload that verges on an endless fire hose of data coming at us from the moment we wake until the last time we check our e-mail, texts, voice mail, blog posts, and direct Twitter messages—then curation isn’t just something that may happen, it’s something that has to happen…

… and it starts with a smart content strategy. Nice goin', Mr. Forry.

Want your own glass of Clinton Kool-Aid? Follow him on Twitter at @wd45 and read his own blog, Content-ment.com.
 

  • http://twitter.com/MrVilhauer Corey Vilhauer

    Yeah, Clinton! Now Kristina can’t hold that “I’VE WRITTEN A BOOK” thing over your head!

  • http://twitter.com/jeff_nadler jeff_nadler

    Right on! I’m really happy to see the emerging focus on the value of curation. We work with content distributors inside large enterprises (I’m CTO at Attensa) and we’ve had similar experiences. Inside many companies our customers are doing aggregation, rule based automated filtering, and distributing content on that basis. As we promote our curation tools we find some resistance to adding the human editorial layer, even though experience shows that it adds a great deal of value to the content. Some customers have adopted great curation practices, others are reluctant primarily because they are concerned about the staff/manpower requirements of an ongoing curation effort.

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