In the “Information Age” and the “Attention Economy,” people who can make sense of the huge volumes of information available on the web are in demand. They’re called “content curators” and you can be one of them.
My thoughts are based on a talk recently given by Beth Kanter at the Social Media for Nonprofits Silicon Valley event. Beth feels that we should encourage “conscious consumption of information.” That means we need people to sift through information, put it in context for specific audiences, and then make it easy for them to find and digest.
Content curation is the organizing, filtering, and “making sense of” information on the web, and sharing the very best with your network.
In her talk, Beth used a great metaphor: a good content curator is like an experienced sommelier who finds the right wine to pair with your food, explains that choice, and waits to hear your feedback or answer questions about it.
A curator takes the time to add his/her own comments or a thought-provoking question—he/she doesn’t just dump a link and run. Sometimes the curator transforms the content to be more interesting or helpful, as in creating a compelling visual for a link on Pinterest or putting key points into a blog post like this.
At this point, I have to note that responsible curators always attribute content to their originators. You might want to look at an older post I wrote on the subject, [when sharing isn’t caring].
As Beth was talking, I realized that a good curator encourages conversations that allow information to take on new meaning and significance. And good relationships can be forged during that give and take of ideas. That’s why good communication skills are important as well as subject matter understanding, focus and the ability to avoid distraction, and fluency in the web and social media.
Producing effective communications is my #1 task, but #2 is curating content for my networks of clients, colleagues, and very smart friends. I do it here on the blog, in my Twitter account, on Pinterest, and to a lesser extent on Google + and other sites.
I’m also a grateful consumer of content curated by others. A key skill in curation is knowing where to look—finding others who consistently pass on good information and have interesting things to say about it. Like Beth Kanter!
You can see Beth’s slides for Social Media for Nonprofits Silicon Valley and some of the audience tweets at this link on Storify. The second part of her talk is actually about being mindful and focused so you don’t get overwhelmed with data or wander down too many of the rat holes of the Internet…