To curate or aggregate – now that’s a question

Not a media junky, then you may not have heard of content aggregation and curation. Yet they are current buzz-words in social media that can pit creators against curators.

What is Twitter or that App that gives you your news stories doing for you – aggregating or curating?

The Distinction

The words ‘aggregation’ and ‘curation’ can have various meanings, but put simply, aggregation is content creation, and curation is content sourcing, selecting and sharing.

Content Aggregation

Unlike curation, content creators and technology drive aggregation. People create unique content, and that content is aggregated or shared via apps, websites, news services, search engines or RSS feeds. Content aggregation always leads back to the original piece of content, so content creators like it. Aggregation is generally done by machines, algorithms, auto-aggregators.

Content Curation

People seeking out specific content, vetting it and sharing it with communities are known as content curators. They don’t need to create the content – rather they building a network of quality links to outside or external content that, in their opinion, is the best. A librarian advising you on a bunch of specific titles is/was a curator.

‘By recommending specific content to their community, they attract people that are looking for a central knowledge hub in their niche-looking for some one to follow or to be followed – someone of influence who is good at spotting other peoples good work and sharing it with their followers, as on Twitter.

So is there a difference between Twitter and that News App on which you build your paper from different sources.

Twitter, where you choose content and pass it on, share it through tweets or re-tweets, is definitely content curation. But then it’s also an aggregation site – you may be writing your own content (aggregation), but you are also selecting it to publish and then sharing it (curation).

So, lets take that news App where you choose the type of story and the media outlet you want. Well, the choice of story genre you make is an act of curating genre, but the story you get is an example aggregation. Confused – you’re not alone. Well, you didn’t choose the story just the genre. When you read the story and recommend it on Twitter its an act of curation.

What about when your News App—which is an example of curating genre (you choose the genre) and aggregating story (an algorithm chooses the story)—asks you “Do You want More of This type”? Beats me.

Well author and NYU Professor Clay Shirky  puts it this way, “Curation comes up when search stops working,” and “curation comes up when people realize that it isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community.” I’ll translate in Croatian – he means search is aggregation (driven by algorithms) and your choice of the search options (the results) is curation.

The value of creating your own content – aggregating – still rocks. But when you choose a platform on which to share yours and other carefully selected content, or when the stories that aggregating News App has ‘algorithmed’ your way and you saved carefully using Read It Later, in order to build a community and save the world on the cheap – that’s curation.

Question; Does the information you curate become and act of aggregation when you pass it on? Is the answer ‘yes’ if you pass it on to anyone and everyone (Tweet it) and ‘no’ if you pass it on to your community? But are the people that follow you your community or just the one’s you follow? It gets tricky doesn’t it.

So what’s the Value of Content Curation (Web source can’t find URL)

As we’ve mentioned, content aggregation is fast becoming content curation – for these excellent reasons.

1: Your community doesn’t have to go anywhere else for information
2: They stay longer on your social media pages
3: This improves brand identity, trust and eventually increases profits
4: You become an expert or influencer in your field because of ‘collection’ not ‘creation’
5: Sites like Twitter, Stumble Upon, Alltop and Flipboard help you curate content

What Does This Mean For Your Business? (Web source can’t find URL)

If you’ve been struggling to keep up with the relentless content demand on your social media sites – it doesn’t mean you can’t succeed. Content curation is just as important as creation and can take your business places – without the headache or expense of having to generate unique content. If you can’t afford articles for a while, then spend that month gathering the best content in your field.

How Do I Get Started? (Web source can’t find URL)

Gather the most popular keywords in your niche and use news syndication services like Google, Yahoo and MSN to source great content. Bookmark excellent blogs you come across. Use sites like StumbleUpon to get great content that doesn’t rank well for keywords – Twitter is also a good place to look for fresh links.

Syndication – not another one of those ‘ion’ words.

Content aggregation (the automated gathering of links) can be seen on sites like Google News. Overall, this type of aggregation has been seen as a positive thing for content creators and publishers, and up until very recently, it was left to technology. Content creation, meanwhile, was a human effort.

But all that changes with curation — the act of human editors adding their work to the machines that gather, organize and filter content.

For more see Social Media MagicCMSWire and one other URL that I used and lost (sorry to the author).

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