Curation. Can you Filter Free Content


Hey, hey! Steve Rosenbaum is up to talk about content curation and this session is slated as only being 20 minutes long. That means we’re going to BLOW through this. Oh goodie, goodie! :)

His goal is for us to leave saying this is the best session we’ve attended all show. He also says we don’t have to feel guilty if we check our blackberries or email.  We’re all busy. There’s been an explosion in data.

What is all this “curation” stuff about:

  • The volume of data is growing like CRAZY! The fact that we feel overwhelmed is an opportunity.
  • Real-time, location-based and consumer content swamps search. We’re not near a plateau point.
  • Web visitors trust sites, voices and individuals
  • The Web has always been about curation
  • Now traffic is shifting from URLs and search to destinations

How does curation work?

  • Successful curators have a voice and a content mix. People come to your site expecting something. They’re expressing intent. People want your point of view.
  • Sites will create some unique content. (CREATED)
  • Sites will invite visitors to submit content (CONTRIBUTED)
  • Sites will use tools to aggregate and filter (COLLECTED)
  • The curated mix is powerful, unique and economic. (Google is doing curation well. They’re not making content and they’re doing *just fine*)
  • You have the right to profit from the value you add (HUZZAH!… okay that was my huzzah, not his)
  • You don’t have the right to steal value or remove ads

With that said, shake off your guilt.  You have the right to make money based on content curation…you just can’t steal it.

Who is doing curation?

  • Media Sites like New York Magazine, Drudge, Mediaite, HuffingtonPost (you can’t tell the difference between which posts on HuffPo are links, which were paid for and which they were written by staffers, and that’s intentional)
  • Brands like Pepsi, Zappos, Etsy and Starbucks
  • eCommerce/Consumer sites like Yelp, FourSquare and RocAWear

The way the Web is set up, if someone doesn’t like how you’re using their material, they can tell you to stop.  We have the Google/Viacom deal to thank for that. The leading media companies in the space are way beyond asking people for the content they want to use/take.  You should be doing curation aggregation the same way.

If people are passionate about your site and want to make content for you, LET THEM.  It’s cool if your visitors get in the habit of making content for you.  Don’t publish everything they give you (you have to protect your brand), but let them get into that habit.  You’ll put your economics in a better direction.

What about Copyright?

First understand this isn’t a new idea. Media has a history of building brands by organizing content and commenting on it. Yes, you can organize and collect the copy. There are rules about what you can do.

  • Content posted on the Web can be linked to.
  • Content on sites with open APIs can be embedded
  • Understand the DMCA and abide by it
  • Don’t edit, obscure or destroy revenue sources on content
  • Expect that your original content will be aggregated and curated as well
  • RESPECT others. Play nice. If someone asks you to remove their content, do it. There’s lots more out there.


  • The history of content is about filtering and commenting
  • Curation isn’t a crime. It’s a necessity.
  • Robots are your friends. But don’t let visitors smell the metal.
  • Have a voice. Be transparent. Be honest.

Wow, I really wish there would have been more time in this session.  With so many content farms killing remarkable content, I think we could have created a great conversation here.  How do you best curate content? How much is too much? What do users want? Ah, so many unanswered questions.

Back in a few minutes with the next 20 minute session! :)

Your Comments

  • Steve @ 2010 Taxes

    I have some forums that run MyBB and have automated RSS feed insertion. They work alright but original content is liked better by the users and by the search engines.

  • Mike Hunt

    Blah, blah, blah. Lisa, most of your stuff is entertaining, if for no other reason than you personality shining through. This article is like, what’s going yawn? You’ve got to inject some of that Lisa Barone juice to make this stuff interesting baby.

    • Lisa Barone

      Sorry, Mike. Tough to work much into a 20 minute session and still get the meat. I’ll try harder next time. :)

      • Mike Hunt

        I hear ya Lisa, no problem. Think nothing of it. By the way, if you would, please call me by my full name. After all I’m not just any Mike, I’m Mike Hunt and Mike Hunt is unique. Say it out loud a few times, if it helps you with the visualization.

        • Mike Hunt

          Lisa, I’m sorry. You need a little delete function on here so people can come back and delete their own comments, after their done amusing themselves. I don’t mean any disrespect at all. I’m just so juvenile sometimes.
          You the best baby!

  • Jason at Internet Exposure

    Steve do you think the issue is that people have seen the content before (i.e. they’re following that feed in their RSS reader already) or that it’s too obvious that it’s automated?

    If it’s the latter, perhaps the secret is trying to make it that content seem more integrated / natural?

    As the post says:
    “Robots are your friends. But don’t let visitors smell the metal.”
    “(you can’t tell the difference between which posts on HuffPo are links, which were paid for and which they were written by staffers, and that’s intentional)”

  • Mike Hunt

    Regurgitated content is regurgitated content any way you lay it out. That’s just lazy, has limited value and only serves to corrupt the Web with duplicate information. Yeah, they maybe able to get some traffic from it initially, but eventually they’ll suffer the penalty of exclusion. Just about everything is based in some way on things that were created before, but unless you are creating something truly unique and better from the modified components, what is the point?

  • Jason at Internet Exposure

    I understood the point of the post / presentation as being that including some curated (and/or regurgitated) content in your site’s mix is a good way to it make it a better website. There is certainly a continuum – it can’t be all republished content and I believe they did a good job emphasizing that it needs to be a mix.

    “Now traffic is shifting from URLs and search to destinations”

    Having a mix of unique content, commentary, and news from around the web makes your site more of a one-stop destination. To use a highly-oversimplified example: it’s not a bad thing that I can get the weather on my homepage and don’t have to go to a dedicated weather site.

    If you successfully spark a meaningful discussion around a scraped news story in your forum, isn’t that creating something “truly unique and better”?

  • Mike Hunt

    Why? Why use anyone else’s content? Because it’s cheap, easy, available? Those are all reasons, but not good ones, I don’t think. Weather, whatever, some entities a good at obtaining specif data, but there is an API for just about everything now, twist it up yourself and make it better, that’s where the value comes from, not only for your visitors, but for you. It’s completely customizable and it’s yours, you own it. it’s unique and your own creation. That’s art, that’s evolution. Otherwise you’re not doing any thing a five minute script couldn’t do a thousand times faster and better.

    I wouldn’t consider using anything scraped. News is news, extract the facts and run it through your own brain for the results. Why would you want Joe Smuckles opinion about anything on your site?