Content curation

March 16, 2021

We live in an age where it has never been easier to have access to content about pretty much every subject of interest to us. This is changing the way we reason about our education system, relationships and ultimately society itself.

Seeing this through the lenses of centralization/decentralization we realize that our world has been slowly moving towards a decentralized structure for content creation and sharing. Social media and search engines have allowed us to reach a wider audience that previously was only possible through mainstream media channels like television, newspapers or magazines.

This shift from content as a scarce resource to an abundance of content changes the way we derive status from it. For example, would you gain status by reading and commenting on something that everyone else can also read and comment for free? Probably not if you don’t have anything to add to the discussion. But what if you could? Enters quality.

This shift from scarcity as a way to achieve status to quality as a way to achieve status has been both fascinating and challenging to me as someone who likes to learn new things constantly. New initiatives like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are emerging to adapt scarcity and funding to our digital world, but let’s leave that topic aside for a future post.

So, what are my challenges? To put it in simple terms, it has become incredibly hard to know what to read in order to learn something. What are the best resources? How do I know if something is accurate? We have moved from a scarcity of resources to a resource overload.

Is this a bigger problem than what we had before? Does it warrant moving back towards a centralized model? Of course not, but some degree of centralization is needed, and that’s when content curation and curators enter the picture. Having an abundance of content curated by specialists brings the right tension of centralization versus descentralization to the picture and generates value to someone that is trying to learn more from a certain area or industry.

Tracing a parallel from the delivery industry, in order to serve a limited audience well the industry has been moving from centralized fulfillments centers to micro fulfillment centers. Curators are the micro fulfillment centers of specialized knowledge. They serve a limited audience, but they do it well. Universities and newspapers would be our centralized fulfillments centers in this case, with a one-size fits all approach to a broader audience.

Content curators have the tough job of trying to find and appeal to an audience that can derive value from their expertise. Interestingly enough we already have people ready to fill this role, the same people responsible for our content overload problem, creators.

Strong creators already have the trust of a limited audience, they also have an open communication channel through their own creations in order to promote this service. The next step involves creating and moderating communities where people can derive value from each other. Good examples of this new shift towards communities being formed from content curation are Morning Brew or The Generalist.

The near future should bring even more curators across industries, with the biggest ones forming communities and doing collabs. This added value will be monetized in different forms, from premium content to courses or events. How far can we push this concept before a new push towards decentralization arrives?

Bernardo de Araujo

Application Security Manager @Shopify.

© Bernardo de Araujo 2023