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Content Curation versus Content Creation

by Tom Johnson on Dec 22, 2010
categories: blogging creativitytechnical-writing

Content Curation versus Content CreationScott Abel has a good post on content curation strategies. He writes,

In order to develop an active and engaged audience, you have to publish as much interesting and informative content as possible — as often as possible!

He notes how tweets and blog posts are short-lived, so you have to keep publishing all the time:

... Add to the mix the sheer volume of tweets, posts, and updates being made every hour on socially-enabled sites around the digital globe, and you'll soon realize the best strategy for getting noticed is to publish as often as possible, 24 hours a day, especially if you are trying to reach a global audience.

In order to satisfy the demand for content, you need a content curation strategy:

...I decided what was needed was a way to curate content and publish it to social networks automatically.

For more, see Content Curation: Streamlining The Process Of Populating Your Social Networks With Relevant, Interesting and Engaging Content.

I've noticed a trend about content this year. Last year, I could publish a post and still get comments 3-4 days later. This year, the comments mostly stop the day after I publish the post. Twitter is even more transient, but it's always been that way.

Scott is right about the abundance of content -- there are too many new posts to read, new tweets published, new articles posted each hour. Why should I bother to read something published last week, or worse, last year? The amount of content increases exponentially.

No one has the stamina to publish interesting and engaging blog posts day after day unless it's his or her full-time job. I struggle to publish several posts a week, and lately I've been feeling even more strained for original content.

Many say blogging itself is in decline. Janet Egan highlights a recent Pew study showing headlines about blogging's decline:

What's really interesting about the Pew report is the way various news organizations summarize it in their headlines. The top themes seem to be blogging in decline and and (gasp, shudder) old people using the Internet. Here is a sampling of the headlines, in the order they showed up on Google News when ordered by relevance:

Pew study: Everyone uses email, but blogging is on decline USA Today (blog) - Stan Schroeder
Blogging 'Peaks,' But Reports Of Its Death Are Exaggerated Wired News (blog) - Ryan Singel
Pew: More Old People Using Facebook, Teens Blogging Less Switched - Amar Toor
Millennial Generation's Web Dominance On The Decline, Pew Study Says The Huffington Post - Amy Lee
Older web users catching up: Pew report - Matt Kwong
Internet is No Longer a Domain for the Young Alone
Elderly people rapidly adapting to online social networks TechRadar UK - Adam Hartley
Old catching up to young on US Internet: study AFP

Content curation is much easier than content creation, because you don't have to strain for original thought. Just note something interesting, maybe make a few remarks, and voila, you're satisfying your hungry audience's need for information.

This post, despite my more extensive commentary, is still in the style of content curation.

Content curation with commentary such as this evokes more of the conversational web; these curated posts give me interesting starting points, so I'm already going in a good direction. You don't have the blank page fear, faced with the raw need to create.

Despite the growing trends of content curation, I'm not sure I want to transition from content creation to content curation just to keep up. It seems a step downward. If a curator's life is only to push article after article across Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress, day in and day out, as many times as you can sanely publish in one day, then let me out of that information ratrace.

You may be a center of attention as you're publishing, but the instant your information well dries up, you're forgotten. As a curator, you're a nameless supplier to the information junkies of the Internet.

Content curation is something that, if everyone did, there would be no new content. Think about that from a Kantian perspective.

Content creation, not content curation, is also more rewarding. A good post changes how you think. It converts you to a new perspective. When I closely examine an experience, perhaps research it, and analyze it into the shape of a post, by the time I click Publish, something has changed inside of me.

I don't think Scott is recommending content curation instead of content creation. He's right that curation is the only way to keep up. But surely there's a balance to remember -- for every few posts you curate, write something of your own. Switch off between long and short posts on your blog. Let the content you curate be a starting point for a more in-depth analysis.

About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm an API technical writer based in the Seattle area. On this blog, I write about topics related to technical writing and communication — such as software documentation, API documentation, AI, information architecture, content strategy, writing processes, plain language, tech comm careers, and more. Check out my API documentation course if you're looking for more info about documenting APIs. Or see my posts on AI and AI course section for more on the latest in AI and tech comm.

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