Content curation is a huge deal on the web today. As content on the web grows exponentially, our ability to make sense of it is inversely proportional. In other words, we are fast sinking under the sheer amount of content pouring onto the web every day.
The social web hasn’t made life any easier on content production either – in fact its lowered the barrier to entry. According to Facebook, 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news blogs etc) are shared each month on the social network, with no sign of slowing. Right now it seems that content curation, and curation platforms are going to be an area of growth on the web. This collection of new and existing curation tools provide us with some organisation in the chaos; particularly when search algorithms fail.
Redux has over the past year grown organically to become one of the web’s best places for finding great content. Based around the premise of user generated content, and the ability for users to give one another ‘props’, it could be described as a mix between BuzzFeed and Delicious. As content receives more ‘props’ it rises to the top of the pile, with individual content silos created for different topics, and popular sections within each of these silos. This is extremely useful. Where delicious tags things collectively as popular, Redux allows you to filter popular items within sub area, and follow particular topics of interest to you.
A new startup still in Beta, Scoop.it again allows you to create topic centric information, and share with others. Recognising that it takes both time, energy and skill to write a blog, Scoop.it have lowered the barrier to entry for anyone to begin the curation process, and develop webpages which are high value, content rich, topical hubs. Content can be curated through the web interface directly, or through a browser bookmarklet, and the interface closely resembles that of Paper.li, with a column based newspaper style layout for each of the content hubs.
As with Redux, a way to ‘follow’ users and content as also been implemented to allow you to receive updates within a topic, and you can also suggest additional sites for the administrator of that topic hub to add to their curated masterpiece. Another clever touch is the statistics which are available on every scoop, which undoubtedly drives interaction forward, and encourages users to share all the more.
Curated.By offers twitter integration right from the get-go, although you can signup without an account. Once signed in to the service, your curated.by news feed shows you updates from all your friends you currently follow on curated.by- with their most recent activity shown front and centre. Although the service relies heavily on Twitter, and at its core, attempts to group and make sense of the tweets you are currently consuming in a more intuitive way under a variety of topics, it is worth mentioning that other links can easily be added to bundles via a browser bookmarklet and a Google Chrome extension.
Unlike some of its rivals in the market curated.by allows you to follow the actual curator behind the content, and not just the topic, which for anyone who already knows who is who will be a massive bonus. Bundles can also be embedded directly into your blog or webpage – and may actually provided added value in a number of cases when describing a particular topic that has active ongoing curation in real time such as a conference, or a rapidly changing topic. All in all a great little service that anyone on Twitter should already know about.
Keepstream is another startup that uses social services (Twitter and Facebook) as the heartbeat of its curation platform, allowing you to connect up your accounts, and organise tweets and updates as “collections” which can be published under another URL and shared back on the very platforms which you’ve curated from. A couple of blog platforms are also a part of the mix, but the implementation really only goes as far as embedding the collections you’ve created. At time of writing, integration with Google Buzz appeared to be underway as well.
Collections can be given a name and a description, and the stream for both Twitter and Facebook are implemented within a tabbed interface, allowing you to switch quickly between them, and hand pick the content you wish to save and organise. Collections created by other people can also be ‘followed’ so any updates under a particular topic can be received directly. Overall the interface within KeepStream is clean, simple to use and real time notifications from the service make it well worth a look.
Qrait uses a combination of OEmbed and their own parsing engine to determine exactly what it is you are trying to curate. For example, suppose you copy and paste a Tweet into their site, it automatically recognises that, styles it and displays it as a tweet in the final implementation of your curated page. Full streams, twitter searches or hashtags can all be added to your final page at the click of a mouse.
Bag the web is a mature content curation tool with a number of features designed to help you curate the content you need with ease. Firstly, their interface leads front and centre with a way to create “bags” containing both links, and original content. If for example you want to collect links on a topic, and write a small piece on your thoughts as well, then bag the web allows you to do this with ease. The social element to the website is also interesting. You can follow users, recommend and favourite ‘bags’ and comment on the content other people have curated, giving the site a much more community orientated feel. If you want to extend on the works of others, then you can add a ‘bag’, to your own, which provides additional curated links of relevance to the content you are creating. Other community features include a private messaging service, which allows interaction between members.
A nice touch all things considered, as this will not only drive traffic between the users of the site, but provide good internal architecture for their SEO. Whoever came up with that one at BagtheWeb, pat yourself on the back.
Other features include cross browser and platform support for different bookmarklets, and a way to embed your bags on your site. A very well rounded community site, that is well worth a look if curation is your ‘bag’. ( Pun intended).
A flash site with an interesting interface, PearlTrees allows users to curated content either together, or with the assistance of others. Individual URL’s or ‘Pearls’ as they are known in the interface can be added to a PearlTree, or a root element, bringing together websites under a particular topic area. Users can choose to join forces, and collaborate together to create huge Pearl Trees with infinite links.
A social element is also available with the service, and users can see how many hits both their pearls and profiles are receiving as well as commenting on other Pearls.
For those of you not so keen on using Flash to wiggle your way around, a browser extension for Chrome is available, allowing you to easily add to a Pearl directly from the browser without the hassles.
Storify looks and feels very similar to KeepStream, although I do feel they have the upper hand with the interface, attention to detail and number of social services which have currently inside their interface that you can curate from. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, RSS, Delicious, SlideShare, AudioBoo, Causes and http://embed.ly/ – are all supported to create your curated content stream.
Searches for keywords or content types on these networks allows you to pick and choose the content that interests you, and publish to a unique URL which can then in turn be shared across social media networks, or in turn, embedded. Other editors can also be invited along for the ride, so you could infact have a collaborative story, reminiscent in many ways of Google Wave – except for social content.
The users whom you’ve referenced in your Storify Stream, can also be notified that they’ve been referenced, which is a good and a bad thing depending on how much adoption the service gets.
I for one have become somewhat frustrated with the number of tweets from services which “@reply” me to let me know someone has referenced what I’ve said (Yes – I’m looking at you Paper.li ) – especially considering the receiving user can do nothing to turn it off.
All things considered? Storify provides a friendly intuitive way to curated a social media stream, and has a plethora of services to tie your content together with. For old timers and new curators, you’ll feel right at home.
Equentia offers a personal content curation and aggregation platform. Instead of the usual approach of looking at the stream of news and picking out what is appropriate, Equentia indexes hundreds of thousands of articles a day, analyses them for semantic patterns (to categorise them) and then performs social analytics of those articles. Users can choose to add particular topics to their stream, and Equentia brings the news that is likely to be of interest to you. Content finds you rather than the other way about. It’s an interesting approach, and one that many search engines are surely looking at as part of their core offerings.
A number of products based around this platform are available – including an Enterprise version. Twitter and Google reader sync are now also available in the interface. Any Tweet with a link that you favorite on Twitter will appear in your personal stream, along with starred and shared items in Google Reader.
For personal curation, a Bookmarklet is also available, and when you are viewing a webpage that you’d like to add to your Personal Stream, you can simply click the toolbar webpage button, or send an article to a personalised email address dedicated to your stream. It’s not the sexiest interface I’ve ever seen, but right now the sheer volume and complexity of the service they are offering is the impressive part.