You Say Aggregate, I Say Curate

Information is no longer the currency it once was, I think everyone can agree to that—there is so much information everywhere that information alone no longer has the same competitive value. To offset information’s decreased value, many librarians, competitive intelligence professionals, knowledge managers and the like, got into content aggregation several years ago to help companies and clients make sense of the dearth of information.

Content aggregation, in this context was loosely described as putting multiple pieces of information together in one platform. Sometimes aggregation was done with the aid of software and key words. Other times, aggregation was done with elbow grease. But aggregation often did little to account for content quality or tone and more often than not, aggregation was just as cumbersome as straight information.

So we turned to calling the craft of collecting, organizing and vetting information “content curation.” Carefully, we chose information from all the content in the world by way of curation, the way a museum curator puts a show together. Curation puts the stuff you need to know, the “meat” of the issue right up front and leave all the small unimportant bits behind. Curated content can help to address business problems. But is curation really better?

To help understand the differences, I created a chart of the similarities and differences to provide a gap analysis. Capturing what we know is, after all, what we in information analytics tend to do.

Infinite Sources

Annotated

Well Presented

Technology Assisted

Project/Event Specific

Aggregation

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Curation

No

Yes

Yes

Sometimes

Often

Advantage

Curation

Curation

Curation

Aggregation

Curation

At a very rudimentary level, curated content has the advantage over aggregated content. I would argue in some cases, such as using research to define rather than frame a key intelligence topic, aggregation takes the prize and knowing more or having more content makes it easier to define a business problem. Aggregation is also less labour intensive.

Content curation, on the other hand, is more time-consuming, but gives you an instant benefit. “Curation moves you from a voice in the noise to a leadership role.” According to Steven Rosenbaum author of Curate This! and the CEO of Waywire.com in a recent article for Forbes.com. Rosenbaum goes on to describe curation as a shift from delivering ‘facts’ to exposing and amplifying patterns. Patterns and more importantly their implications are the difference to me between information and intelligence.

How do you move from aggregating content to curating it? Here are five things to consider:

  1. If Aggregation = getting it all together, then…
  2. Curation = presentation in new and exciting, useful ways – think infographics or dashboards.
  3. Show people only the information they NEED to make a decision or move a project along.
  4. Remember the power of framing, and find a way to order the chaos of information into manageable chunks – that’s curation!
  5. Stir it up! Good curated content borrows from a variety of media and sources, don’t stick to one kind of information, mix it up and create something new and interest.

Happy curating!

Download the New Rules of Content Curation Free 18-page white paper

Editor’s note – republished with the permission of the author – first published on infodesk.

Posted in: Business Research, Communication Skills, Competitive Intelligence, KM, Libraries & Librarians, Library Marketing
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