Posted on March 27, 2011 by william
The Internet has a history of hyping concepts. Gartner popularized the term “hype cycle”, where a “peak of inflated expectations” follows the initial “technology trigger”. I believe we’re at that peak with Digital Curation.
I’ve been to that movie before in 1999 when the advent of electronic marketplaces was a hot trend that was supposed to turn into a trillion dollars opportunity. The “hypers” suddenly realized that electronic marketplaces will replace bricks-and-mortar business because e-commerce was possible. It made a lot of sense, on paper: frictionless commerce, lower transactions costs, borderless reach, infinite number of users, large markets, etc… At the peak of these inflated expectations, more than 300 such marketplaces were predicted to flourish, each with billions of dollars in revenue potential. Then, it all collapsed, and only 2 marketplaces survived. I won’t go into the reasons for that, but the lesson learned is that when everybody starts to grab a term and use it loosely, it loses its meaning. It becomes over-used, abused and mis-used. It becomes hyped.
Here are 4 reasons why I think Curation is hyped, today:
1) Companies touting “curation” as the business model are being generously funded, whereas these are just features that no clear benefits or end-state. I already wrote a post saying that Curation is a means to an end, not the end itself. If your company relies solely on curation features, it’s dead-ended. A lot more is needed on top of that.
2) Several companies offering social readers that rank your social content by popularity of sharing and liking are calling themselves Curation services. Sharing and Liking is not curation. Sharing and Liking allows us to see the signal from the noise, but its loose interpretation of what curation is about.
3) Content farmers and SEO-hungry blog post are writing about “Content Curation”, just to appear in SEO searches. You go there to read it because of a catchy title, but these posts are empty SEO-optimized regurgitations. I’m not going to name these blogs, but enter a Google Alert for “content curation” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
4) More curation by the masses is not necessarily better. It will come with a heavy toll: disorganization, poverty of attention, lower quality, and an end-state where noise is higher than signal, again. Curation by experts or incented users is more useful. Curators must be “trusted”.
I don’t want anyone thinking that I’m against Curation. I’m not. I’m betting my future on it. The company I founded offers a comprehensive curation, aggregation and re-publishing platform, with tons of curation features. We even have have a resident, full-time Chief Curator, a position I established about a year ago.
But I don’t want this concept to be hyped or belittled. When something difficult is made to look trivial and easy, it’s the beginning of hype. Curation is hard work, when done right. The end result should be a reference point for others, not incomplete sets of content.
- Are Content Curators the power behind social media influence? (businessesgrow.com)
- Curation is a Means to an End, Not the Objective (eqentia.com)
- Curation (avc.com)