The Future Of Content Curation Tools - Part II
In the coming months and years, I expect content curation tools are going to play a very important role in many different fields. From news journalism, to content development, to learning and education, ecommerce and tourism, there are plenty of areas that have a common need: to better organize the huge (and growing) amount information they have available, in a way that makes it more effective to be consumed, explored and comprehended by others.
Photo credit: 3D colorful abstract by ShutterStock
This common, vast growing need for organizing and skillfully presenting information sets, is being addressed by content curation tools that facilitate exactly the task of finding, organizing and presenting in effective ways, sets, streams or collections of content already available out there.
In Part II of this guide, devoted to explore the traits, trends and features that will characterize future content curations tools, I continue my humble exploration of what I have identified as possible areas for betterment, innovation and improvement of content curation tools, by identifying and describing some of those that appear most needed. (Here is Part I - The Future of Content Curation Tools)
-> continued from Part I - Future of Content Curation Tools
Contrary to popular belief, the nature of the web is quite volatile. A large percentage of the overall content available online, is moved, taken down, deleted or disappears on a daily basis, at times only because the website owner has no more money to pay his hosting bills.
If you run a check for broken links on your web site you will see what I am talking about.
How many times have you run through a list of tools on a blog post, only to find that a bunch of them were not available anymore?
How many startups are created and how many them survive after one or two years (and with them their websites and blogs)?
Even without you as a publisher doing anything wrong, the links you create, pointing to other sites, tools and information, do disappear.
This is the life of content on the Internet. It is an imperfect life and no page is guaranteed immortality.
Unless you save it on the Internet Archive or on some similar service.
But one of the official digital curator key responsibilities lays specifically in archiving and preserving anything of value that is collected, just like a museum curator does.
For these reasons professional content curation tools will have to include among their features the ability to:
a) fully photograph,
b) archive and
c) create a searchable index of any such web content, page or information resource being curated.
A few innovative online services have already started in these direction:
More will follow.
I also expect that many of the existing curation tools will start offering the ability to permanently save a copy of the original content, among their premium feature set.
9) Private Collections
If it is true that curated collections of information on specific topics can carry a great value for some people, as they can save enormous amounts of time to those searching for specific information on a topic, then the need to offer "private" collections / streams that can be accessed via subscription or sold as downloadable PDF (or in other formats) will also come of time soon.
While many content curation services already provide the ability to create "private" collections, very few if any provide the ability to share private access via password to other qualified users or to sell access to such private collections whether in the form of a one-time fee or a monthly subscription.
10) Full Capture Abilities
Investigative journalists, real-time news reporters and bloggers often need to curate content as if they were wildlife explorers, craving for the possibility of capturing at an instance notice, parts of a page, of a news story or of an image that may not be there in a few hours or days.
Just like the wildlife explorer who relies on his trusted analog photo camera to capture unique, unrepeatable moments, also the curator needs to equipped with qualified tools that can allow him to easily clip a short text excerpt from a page, a whole web page, an image or parts of a video.
Few content curation tools excel on this front, and none does a great job of creating screenshot-based web page collections that contain full page screenshots. (Gimmebar is the best on this front).
Some provide good tools to clip contents components of a web page, others allow you to "capture" parts or all of a web page, and yet others do a good job of presenting the captured content on the screen, but none does all of this stuff in an effective way like Clipboard.com (now sold to Salesforce.com) used to do.
I am definitely on the lookout for curation tools that will integrate or focus specifically on this feature set.
In the meanwhile I leverage the power of Awesome Screenshot an excellent add-on for capturing and saving online any full web page image or any part of it.
If you are a content curation service and you provide effective tools to content curators it would only be logical to expect that, at least a tiny fraction of your user-base is going to create some uniquely valuable curated collections or streams.
Why let such great work and authorship run out of steam?
Future content curation tools not only will go out of their way to highlight, showcase and present to the widest possible audience the great work produced by their curators, but will actually find ways to sponsor, to re-distribute and to up-sell the best of such content to qualified brands or academic / learning / training institutions that may be looking for such a match.
Even present-day content curation platforms need to do a much better job in "curating" their own assets and in making it as easy as possible for users to perceive their curated hubs as treasure troves of well categorized, high-quality info and news, on just about any topic.
They are all too-focused in pushing their curation tool-platform rather than showing you first the great fruits it can produce. I think this is a hot topic for further discussion.
In my view, all these platform have an opportunity to gradually discover and identify the most valuable curators in their community and to support them by either having relevant brands sponsoring specific verticals, via sponsored stories (like Techmeme does), or via paid subscriptions.
12) Content Types Begging To Be Curated
Most of the curated content today are news, images and products.
The majority of the curation tools available focus on the ability to capture real time news streams emerging from blogs, Twitter, social media and news sites and to pick and select relevant stories to curate and add to one's own site or social media streams.
Still, there are some areas that completely lack, or offer only one or two useful and easy-to-use curation tools.
Take for example audio curation. There's no dedicated curation tool that I know of that can help me curate podcasts, audio recordings and newscasts easily, while providing with me tools and facilities similar to the ones available to news curators.
Another vertical that is super-ripe for curation is Instagram, the service through which people shoot and share zillions of unique images via their smartphones.
Given the willingness of many authors to share and let others re-use and republish their imagery (you can do so by utilizing a creative commons licensing option) and the immense quantity of new imagery produced hourly by this formidable service and by its users, it is only a matter of time before some startups will start to provide curation tools for Instagram (and for similar tools like Flickr), allowing users to create thematic collections, not just with their shots, but also with the best pics from other willing-to-share (and be credited) users.
This is content that begs to be curated in ways that do not compromise individual rights but which maximize the ability to reward those who invest serious time in finding golden needles in haystacks and in organizing them in ways that can be useful to others.
13) Beyond News & Articles
Until now we have been used to see the work of the content curator give life to streams of news stories via a Twitter or Facebook channel, or to listings of resources or tools in a particular field, or to a visual collection of items, objects or images like many have done on Pinterest.
In the future it is very likely that beyond these popular uses, you will see the work of content curators specifically contribute to the creation of valuable collections in the form of actual:
- video playlists - programmes
- shopping directories
- learning maps
- catalogues of examples
- thematic success stories
The logic behind this reasoning is that quality curated content has by definition a much higher value that standard content available online and can therefore be sold at a price for its value to the end user.
Beyond what school or college requires you to, if you were to want to learn everything there is to know about a topic, would you take the official textbook provided at Stanford or would you be interested in paying a small fee to know where are the best free learning resource, video clips and papers on that topic, that are freely available online?
Obviously the more you dig in this direction and the more the issue of how to manage the rights of the content you curate comes up as a possible issue.
But until the curator's job online is one of acting as pointer and guide through the maze of resources available replicating and preserving only where this is permitted or encouraged, this should be not an impossible obstacle to overcome.
14) Specialized Curation Tools
Each of these content curation tasks requires a different set of tools and skills.
This is why I believe that the next generation of content curation tools will not be designed for the broadest or most popular use only.
Most of today content curation tools, are general-purpose collection tools, some more oriented to text, some more to images and video. But they all purposely avoid specialization in fear of losing market share.
I expect new curation tools to diversify themselves from the crowded competition by specializing in a specific area and for a specific group of users.
As we progress, new professional content curation tools will emerge, that will be characterized by their having been designed, not for generic use, but for a specific curation application or use.
For startups wondering how sustainable this approach can be, my answer is that it is much better to have a small but willing-to-pay market following, than having millions of free-wheelers with tons of different needs and expectations.
Content curation tools will increasingly provide new tools and services that can help us tame and organize the huge amount of information available to us.
In the near future it is likely that new content curation tools will provide more dedicated features for specific application and uses while becoming more aware of user needs that so far have not been taken into serious consideration (attribution, archiving, monetizing).
While large content curation hubs and platforms are likely to start realizing that their best value yet to be extracted is in the content being curated by their users, new tools will likely target more specifici and professional uses rather than the general public needing simply to collect and repost content on their blog or social media channel.
Originally written by Robin Good and first published on MasterNewMedia on Tuesday December 17th 2013 as "Future of Content Curation Tools: Part II".
Robin Good -
Preservation - Big golden by Shutterstock
Private Collections - Closed box by Shutterstock
Full Capture Abilities - Beautiful young woman with camera by Shutterstock
Monetization - Gold casino chips by Shutterstock
Content Types Begging To Be Curated - Golden gramophone by Shutterstock
Beyond News & Articles - Newspaper or magazine from tablet by Shutterstock
Specialized Curation Tools - Special scissors by Shutterstock
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