Curation – Automation versus Imagination

curatorWith the explosive growth of the Internet, anyone might question whether it is worth writing even more to add to the mountain of information that is there. Surely almost any opinion or view is to be found among material that has already been created. Why add to the Tower of Babel that’s been growing over the recent decades?

Content marketing, yes or no

Given that Google has now very effectively weeded out the many spam websites used to elevate the search rankings for web pages, the new mantra for developing search visible web pages is content development. By developing a stable of quality articles on a website, the hope is that this will be content that Google will favour in answering users’ keyword queries.

Arnie Kuenn discusses the dilemma that faces a marketer.  How can you prepare for this oversupplied universe of content offerings. In summary, he believes you should do it bigger and better. He counsels the following steps in achieving that:

  • Increased strategic adoption
  • Consistency is key
  • Scalability across the organization
  • Content will be treated like a product
  • More tools and more data
  • More dynamic, interactive content

He believes that in following these steps the future is bright. That might appear somewhat optimistic since so many people are trying to achieve the same ends.

Curation, the solution for the content marketing strategy dilemma

This is where curation may be a help. Curation is the process whereby someone selects appropriate materials on a given topic and assembles them in a format that is appropriate for the reader. The word first came into use in museums where a skilled curator would select from the plethora of available artifacts those which best portrayed a given subject.

An excellent example of this can be seen in Exeter  where Julien Parsons is Head Curator and Senior Collections Officer at Exeter’s award-winning Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM). His summary is:

Selecting and caring for objects is part of the role, but perhaps the most important element is knowing how to present them in a way that will capture the public’s imagination.

Those very same principles apply strongly when it comes to content curation.

What Content Curation Must Deliver

This means that content curation must deliver the following:

  • a judicious selection of relevant information
  • an appropriate summary  of what this information means
  • all this presented in a way which engages the reader

If you would like to explore what this means then The Definitive Guide to Content Curation by Pawan Deshpande of Curata is an excellent resource.  He cites the following benefits when you apply content curation:

  • Improve Search Engine Optimization
  • Establish Credibility as a Thought Leader
  • Support Lead Generation
  • Streamline Lead Nurturing
  • Complement Social Media & Blogging

Given these benefits, the arguments for using content curation would seem to be overwhelming. That raises the question of how best to check out the best articles on any given topic. Given the success of computers in providing high quality search results, they would seem to be ideal tools for this task.

If Computers Can Kill, Then Surely They Can Curate

stephen hawkingIt now appears that computers can do the most miraculous of things. Indeed both Stephen Hawking and now Bill Gates have suggested that artificial intelligence may represent a severe threat to the human race.

That would require enormous thinking abilities.  Surely curating the information on the Internet for any particular topic should be no challenge to the systems we now have for marketing intelligence. That indeed is what many people feel and there are a number of software solutions to the curation task. You will find many of these listed in the Ultimate List of Content Curation Tools and Platforms.

Readers Want The Personal Touch

Even though computers may be capable of doing enormously complicated tasks, not everyone accepts that they would be good at doing curation.  Jen Spencer is one of the doubters.

You can’t automate great curation. The Industrial Revolution automated production, and the technological age automated just about everything else in our lives. But factories and technology can’t automate creativity, imagination and instinct. If you want to make yourself irreplaceable, start getting creative.

Any reader is unlikely to be happy with a generic collection of items on a given topic. How much better it is if they have the benefit of some human being who has carefully considered that generic collection and used discerning judgment to present the distilled version of all that information in their opinion.

When you know who is providing that judgment and know how they tend to treat the topics they cover, then you are much more able to select a curator who is likely to satisfy your information needs. The bland output from a computer will leave you very much short of what you are looking for.

Photo credit: curator courtesy of Mount Rainier NPS via photopin cc