I’m sure most of you bristle at the thought of curators being more valuable than creators. After all, the former have no job without the latter. I agree, but it’s not as if the content creation population is declining. In fact, that number only increases every month, and that’s what’s driving up the value of curation.
Regardless of your preferences and interests there’s simply too much content to read. Whether it’s books, magazines, newspapers, blogs, websites, newsletters, etc., every year it becomes more difficult to keep up. Faced with this steady firehose stream of content, we can all use some help determining which elements are worth reading and which are a waste of time.
Separating the good from the bad is, of course, where curation comes into the mix. My favorite magazine, The Week, shows just how powerful and useful curation can be: Every week their editors sift through the latest news, presenting both sides of every story and saving readers countless hours with their summary coverage. Flipboard is another example of a platform that leverages curation. At first Flipboard curated the content and then they expanded their platform so now anyone can create a Flipboard magazine. Here’s mine, for example.
Despite its success, Flipboard illustrates the fact that curation still has a long way to go in its evolution. I say that because the signal-to-noise ratio of Flipboard and Flipboard magazines is getting worse. Every week I find fewer new, interesting Flipboard stories to read and reflip for others to discover.
So where will this valuable curation and consumption take place in the future? Today it’s spread across the web but I’d rather have it all united in one convenient stream.
The Evernote platform has the potential to move from simple note taking to becoming a more powerful content curation, sharing and consumption service. I’ve stopped using Instapaper because it’s so easy to clip, annotate and save web pages into Evernote. I’m also clipping magazine pages from my Next Issue subscription and pouring those into Evernote. In short, Evernote makes it easy and convenient to curate content from a variety of sources and splice them all together.
Here’s the thorny question that will probably need to be answered soon: At some point, does a service like Evernote offer an option to buy access to the curation of others? In other words, can I charge you for access to my curated Evernote collections, including all that content I have no right to redistribute?
It’s yet another example of The Innovator’s Dilemma: Traditional publishers will aggressively fight to prevent it while forward-thinking ones find a way to participate in the revenue stream it represents. And this revenue stream, by the way, will be one where the curators are highly valued and, in some cases, become the key brand.
(Orignally published in Joe Wikert’s Digital Content Strategies.)
Here is the bottom line:
CONTENT MAY BE KING — BUT PROMOTION IS THE SUPREME EMPEROR!
As a self-published author (since 1989) and also a traditionally published author with Random House/Ten Speed Press (since 1997), I will always find new innovative ways (that 99 percent of other authors won’t) to market my books so I don’t have to use Flipboard or Evernote.
Having said that, the first step is to write an outstanding book (good isn’t good enough). These words of wisdom apply:
“Books work as an art form (and an economic one) because they are primarily the work of an individual.”
— Seth Godin
“Even the most careful and expensive marketing plans cannot sell people a book they don’t want to read.”
— Michael Korda (former Executive with Simon & Schuster)
In a word: Yes.
This is why marketing still matters, even in the internet age. This is why book blogs can build a following, and why Daring Fireball can be successful even though it is “just” a link blog.
Curation matters. There’s so much content being produced right now that curation, or choosing the best of the firehose, is worth something.
And yes, you can charge for the recommendations; booktrade.info is doing just that. They don’t, however, charge for the content.