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April 5, 2012

What Is Content Curation?

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What is content curation from Atlantic BT Internet marketing blog

Curation can be controversial. Content curation doesn’t seem like a job to anyone who isn’t curating. To those happy few who worry about pins, scoops, their Facebook wall, Twitter followers and Klout scores curation is hard, constant work. There are several reasons why content curation seems so cool to those doing it and so weird to the uninitiated including:
* Content Curation Is Artistic
* Content Curation Is Nonlinear, Capable of Curating Opposing Ideas
* Great Curators = almost invisible so hard to “see”
* Content Curation Always Happens NOW

Content Curation Definition
Content curation is the art of collaging sometimes seemingly disparate content from a variety of sources to make previously hidden truths manifest with a NonZero goal of helping others see, understand, interact with and contribute to emerging ideas, memes and truths.

If my content curation definition sounds a like a collision of art, commerce, gaming, life and love then you are thinking like a curator. Two of the hardest lessons Alton Pickens, a great artist, teacher and mentor at Vassar College, taught took years away from college to more fully understand:

  • Artists must be capable of holding two opposing ideas and be capable of drawing energy and force from either in order to achieve a goal only he or she sees
  • YOU are the instrument, so, when something isn’t working, tune YOU not IT or THEM

There is always a pattern, Alton explained. Finding those patterns, finding magic, requires suspension of judgment and disbelief. Judgment moves ego back into the center circle, the ego’s normal residence. The problem, Alton told me on one of his frequent unscheduled studio visits, is great art is rarely created with ego. Great art must tap the universal to be honest and lasting. I had no idea what any of that particular Alton sermon meant then, but some years later I realized Alton was saying great art is about love.

Great content curation is about love too. Like graffiti artists Shepard Fairey or Bansky, great curators steal into the night to “tag” metaphorical digital walls. “I am here and LOVE this, what do you think and do you see IT,” these new digital age “bombers” say and ask with each Scoop, Pin, Blog or Status Update.  When a Robin Good, Michele Smorgon, Mike Ellsworth, Kelly Liberman, Gerrit Bes and/or any number of other great people/curators share ideas, use an idea or contribute we become instant and deep friends. We are brother and sister curators.

Don’t Get It…
It isn’t surprising really. Not everyone understands everything all at once especially not in our post Moore’s Law cool startup tools times. Things are changing fast, faster and fastest so anyone who doesn’t feel dislocation isn’t alive. The good news is content curators are in the business of teaching, sharing and learning. Did you just see the big bright light bulb above my head? The bright bulb is there because writing about the NonZero giving core of content curation, the education and learning, helped me see why there are so many educator/curators. Content curation may come most naturally to educators since helping others find “manifest truth” is what educators thankfully do for a living.

Artists are the other tribe swimming in the swift stream of content curation as if born for just such a challenge. My art teacher Alton Pickens couldn’t help me become half the painter he was, but his exercises and lessons continue to teach new lessons as my curation “instrument” changes and moves through the fabric of this special time.

How Can You Reward Content Curation
Who is TOP or MOST or BEST is a meaningless barrier. When I created the first Content Curation Contest I suspended judgment on the difficulties of comparing the incomparable. I put my head down and decided to steam forward figuring some recognition and thanks is better than none. Community votes determined “winners” of our three “prizes” an iPad 2 for Susan Bainbridge, a Kindle Fire for Khaled El Ahmad and the New Voices badge for Giuseppe Mauriello. Seven other curators receive profile pages on Atlanticbt.com where juice form our site will flow across to several links these TOP CURATORS choose (as our ongoing THANKS for the hard work and great curation).

Our spam algorithm had to work overtime, but you can see the final vote counts on my Top 2011 Curators post (working on it now). Susan is a great education curator, Khaled cares about social media or Giuseppe is brilliant about social media and marketing strategy.  Curators don’t curate because of a contest or possible reward. Content curators are NonZero, meaning they are willing to contribute in more than they may ever take out.

After reading NonZero by Robert Wright I became convinced of our human desire to help each other. I tested my belief by riding a bicycle across America putting my fate in the hands of strangers. I was NEVER disappointed. People help at every turn.  There is an army of content curators out in cyberspace helping right now.

Some of my favorite content curator/teachers didn’t “win”. I hope every contestant knows how much we appreciate their perspective, hard work and curation. My life (and millions of other lives) make more sense because of YOUR work. Thanks and keep doing what you are doing despite not everyone understanding everything all at once.

How Can A Company BUY Content Curation?
There is a debate about if someone else can act as a curator for your company. No debate for us since we currently curate content for several companies. The “How Do I Buy Content Curation” question deserves more time, tips and ideas than we can capture today so stay tuned.

Thanks….
I hope every hard working content curator reading this post knows how much their silent, admiring audience appreciates their midnight runs, posts, pins, Hunches and scoops. Atlantic BT Founder and CEO Jon Jordan, our President and Chief Operation Officer Mark Foulkrod and every member of our 70+ web development and Internet marketing team thanks every artist/curator who entered our contest, voted for content curators or who toil late into the night to tag the world so others may see IT too.

You guys ROCK.

Marty Smith
Director Marketing
Atlantic BT
(@ScentTrail and Curation Revolution on @Scooop.it)

Ps Thanks to my brilliant, talented friends who’ve created some of the coolest “living art” on the plant including tools such as Hunch.com, Scoop.it, Facebook, Twitter and the startup entrepreneurs working hard in some basement or garage somewhere to empower Curation The Next Web Revolution. You Guys ROCK pretty seriously too. Thanks, Marty

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