Five models of content curation

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I’d love you to take a look at this post by Rohit Bhargava:  Five Models of Content Curation. I think he is spot on with his five models, which I’ll list below. This is a pretty good deconstruction of how we actively curate content for you here on SocialFishing, and it’s a useful way to think about particular kinds of posts you could be posting on your association or nonprofit blog relative to your industry topics.

Content curation, or the organizing, filtering and “making sense of” information, is a role every association should be focusing on very consciously by now.

Let’s run through them quickly, and I’ll point to an example of each from this blog.

  • Aggregation – There is a flood of information online and Google can only give you a best guess at the most relevant, but there are millions and millions of pages returned for any search result. Aggregation is the act of curating the most relevant information about a particular topic into a single location. Often taking the form of catalog style blog posts which list “27 Great Resources For Small Business” (or similar aggregations), this is the most common form of content curation. Volume is not typically an issue when it comes to aggregation, so in this case you still may have hundreds of pieces of source material – but just the fact that it is in a single location and not millions of pieces of information has a high value for people interested in a particular topic.

This one’s a no-brainer – try my Link Love Monthly on for size. Here’s another example.Do you do a weekly or monthly round up of top stories, most clicked posts, top ten resources? This is an easy-peezy one to add to your editorial calendar.

  • Distillation – The idea behind distillation is that adding a layer of simplicity is one of the most valuable activities that someone can undertake. Distillation is the act of curating information into a more simplistic format where only the most important or relevant ideas are shared. As a result, there may be quite a bit of additional content that is lost for the sake of simplicity – however the value comes from the fact that anyone digesting this content no longer has to contend with a high volume of content and can instead consume a more focused view of information.

Making things simpler, and/or summarizing discussions that have been happening over time, is something I personally work hard to do. My recent 7 Truths about Online Influence post is an example of this, as is my analysis of Quora from a while back. We also like analogies, to pull out simple concepts from often thorny problems. We like them a lot. This is not necessarily the kind of thing you can schedule in your editorial calendar, but you can absolutely save links (using whichever method you choose, I do it in Google Reader) related to one particular topic, then wait until you have several that you could summarize in one post (whether that summary actually refers to those stories or just pulls out the most important thrust of the issue).

  • Elevation – The smaller ideas that are often shared online in 140 character bursts or pithy mobile phone images may point to a larger societal trend or shift. Elevation refers to curation with a mission of identifying a larger trend or insight from smaller daily musings posted online. Encompassing much of what many trend-focused websites do, this can be one of the hardest forms of content curation because it requires more expertise and analytical ability on the part of the person or organization during the curating. The benefit is that it can also be the most powerful in terms of sharing new ideas as well.

It’s possible that I don’t do this one very well, though I really love the concept.  But I also see the work of “elevating” in this context slightly differently; I often think a short video like this, or like this, or even a single tweet, or a short quote of the week speaks much more volumes if I just throw it out there than if I try to add lots of analysis around it. I think you can easily make big points with creative, little posts. (You tell me if it works!)

  • Mashup – A term often used in the context of music to describe the growing trend of taking two or more pieces of music and fusing them together – there is a wider implication for mashups in relation to information. Mashups are unique curated justapositions where merging existing content is used to create a new point of view. Taking multiple points of view on a particular issue and sharing it in a single location would be one example of this type of behaviour – and could be used to describe the sort of activity that takes place every day on Wikipedia. More broadly, mashups can offer a way of creating something new while still using content curation as a basis for it because you are building on existing content.

This one is something I would LOVE to do more of. I’ve only tried one so far, but the idea is extremely interesting to me and I need to figure out how I might do more of this kind of putting together different elements to create some kind of narrative. I’d love to hear if you’ve tried something like a mashup in any of your blogging. Maybe just inviting different points of view on a particular issue is part of this, but it also has to do with different mediums. I guess any recap post of a conference could also be called a mashup, if you’ve got photos and video and text in a single post…

  • Chronology – One of the most interesting ways of looking at the evolution of information is over time – and how concepts or our understanding of topics has changed over time. Creating a Chronology is a form of curation that brings together historical information organized based on time to show an evolving understanding of a particular topic. Most useful when it comes to topics where understanding has shifted over time, this can be a powerful way of retelling history through informational artifacts that exist over time to prove how experiences and understandings have changed.

I don’t have a post to point to for this – looks like we’re too busy looking ahead to look back too much, but again stylistically this could be something interesting to work into your blogging calendar. Something more interesting than just your end-of-year recap post…

So what do you think of these five models for content curation? Can you think of others? The more I think about it, the more I wonder if these fall under the five or whether they would stand on their own:

– Filtering – I see this as more specific, topically, than aggregating as Rohit defines it, though maybe it’s a subset of that.
– Recap or reporting– say, of a conference or event
– Showcasing, spotlighting – I’m not sure what to call this but I’m thinking of when you might showcase content from your members. Curation for community building, I suppose.

…anything else you can think of? In all of these cases, we’re talking about how you would present links or other information created by other people. How do you define content curation?

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