In the previous posts in this series, we’ve looked at “curation” in two ways: as a term for the filtering and mosaic-style storytelling bloggers and other web writers do by collecting links, and as a way of thinking about long-term content stewardship.
In case you missed any parts, here they are:
- Intro: Content & Curation: An Epic Poem
- Part 1: Curating the Deck Chairs on the Titanic
- Part 2: Between the Click and the Curator
- Part 3: The Curate and the Curator
- Part 4: Slouching Toward the Curatorial
- Also relevant: Credo: Addendum.
Curation as Storytelling-via-Filter
This revivified form of link-blogging is getting loads of attention as an easy way of (somehow) making money and expressing a personal vision. Here’s the 10-second version of my posts on this sort of curation:
- Content curation is not a quick fix or a cheap way to solve your content problems, because if you do it well, it takes time, and if you do it badly, you’re already losing.
- If content curation fits into your overall content plan, then by all means, do it—but commit to doing it well. It’s only by trying to do it better than anyone else that you’ll create something that continues to interest your readers after the first rush of interest has subsided.
- “Feed the beast” is not a strategy. If your content plan revolves around creating huge heaps of content, then unless you have genuinely accepted the long-term responsibilities and expenses of a publisher, you probably need a new plan.
- If someone tries to get you to pay for curation tools or services, remember that this is just one part of what bloggers have been doing since the late 1990s, and budget accordingly.
And one more for content people, specifically: we shouldn’t be jerks to people who do real curation in museums and galleries. Their work isn’t sacred, but neither is it trivial, and using their jargon without understanding where it comes from is a dilettante’s move.
Digital Curation (aka TL;DR)
If there’s one thing that researching and writing this series has pounded into my head, it’s that this web thing we do is not an isolated, special activity. A valuable and immediately useful inheritance is ours if we look beyond our ring-fenced specializations.
To people who aren’t already neck-deep in things like enterprise content strategy and document management, digital curation may seem intimidatingly technical or unwieldy. But until we routinely leave our clients and projects with a solid understanding of long-term publishing and content management costs, needs, and processes, we’re glossing over a really important part of content strategy.
Our natural allies in digital curation, information science, and museum work offer us the chance to learn about field-tested tools and approaches. We should take it.
How to Win at Internet
If you can use the second kind of “curation” to plan for and get more out of the work you do with the first kind—by “curating” your own content as well as that created by someone else, by reusing your work in smart ways, and by creating digital storage and tagging structures that support new publishing activities—you’ll almost certainly have created something sustainable and genuinely useful.
I realized after about the second post that I wasn’t going to be able to talk about anything like the full set of resources I’ve been using, lest the length of my posts turn all of you to stone and get me kicked off the internet. Rather than making a giant list of links, I’m just going to post short discussions of curation-related resources and how I’m using them as an informal series over the next few months.
Big thanks to all of you who commented, wrote thought-provoking posts and emails, and retweeted the crap out of this, and to Peter, who skillfully edited my posts on the fly, even when they were much too long. Unicorn-colored space princesses, every one of you.