How do you feel about “content curation”?

I recently learned about a relatively new start-up in Cambridge called HiveFire.

This company sells “Curata,” a “content curation solution.” Basically it’s a tool that finds relevant content on the Internet (often in the form of blog posts or articles), aggregates a list of the content, and lets you select which articles you’d like to highlight on your website or blog.

Once you make your selections, the articles’ first paragraphs are posted on your site (check out some examples in the “Featured Content Curation Articles” section of HiveFire’s blog).

The whole idea behind content curation is that it can save companies time and money. It’s not easy updating your site with new content every day, so why not borrow content from other sites instead? Or supplement your original content with borrowed content? That’s the philosophy.

Well this begs the question: Is it really ethical to curate content? I guess sites do it to some extent all the time by linking to other articles, or summarizing other articles. But that’s not as automated a process as having one tool seek out (like Google Reader), format AND publish the content. Plus, many borrowers don’t publish content word for word like Curata does.

I’m not a lawyer and do not know the legal implications of content curation, or at least the type of content curation conducted by Curata. I guess Curata’s method is better than automatic publication (there’s at least some human effort involved with the selection of the articles). Plus, it can give exposure to other people’s content.

But hopefully the content curators are not getting rich off of others’ original work. That’s what I fear. But at the same time the Internet is an open place where ideas are exchanged and shared all the time. When no one can curate anyone else’s content that openness become jeopardized.

I guess I’m sort of conflicted about content curation, or at least the type you can do with Curata. Anyone have any thoughts?

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4 Comments on “How do you feel about “content curation”?”

  1. ina Says:

    My view is that as long as they are quoting the source, and they are forcing users to click on the article (by not publishing the entire thing), then the author of the content is actually getting the traffic. In that case, it’s a win-win. I’m not a lawyer, but I play one on TV. đŸ˜‰

  2. Taariq Lewis Says:

    Hi Christine! Great to see you article today. Yes, well, Curata picked it up, so err..yes..I curated it as a very great insight into the ethics of curation.

    You bring up a great question: Is Curation Ethical? It’s our view that the question of ethics really arises out of the objective of the Curator. Curata’s customers are providing an educational service around topics that are critical to their customers. The objective of each Curata portal is to make it easy to find relevant content, critical to a topic or issue.

    Providing that relevant content also requires transparency and direct pointing back to the original source, author, and URL. This is because our customers curate brief snippets (a few sentences at most) of insight to deliver context. Thus, Curata’s customers provide a service to both those who need to consume information and the publishers of the curated content.

    The act of making money isn’t itself unethical and good curators drive traffic and eyeballs back to those publishers who depend on the content for a living.

    Good Curators help publishers get found in a sea of content. As curating takes effort to actually give context to a snippet, we’re not surprised to hear some Curata Curators receive original content from publishers, directly.

    Curation will continue to grow, but we must remain committed to an ethical standard that respects both the publisher and the information consumer.

    What do you think? Did I help provide further light to this growing area of information management?

    Taariq Lewis
    Director of Sales & Marketing, HiveFire

  3. Hi Christine,

    Two quick points to think about:

    First, Google has built a multi-billion dollar empire off of everyone’s content, but at the end of the day everyone uses and applauds them for it.

    “Google is not ours. Which feels confusing, because we are its unpaid content-providers, in one way or another. We generate product for Google, our every search a minuscule contribution. Google is made of us, a sort of coral reef of human minds and their products.”

    Content curation is very much the same as Google except instead of an algorithm sitting in the middle it’s a person.

    Secondly, I recently wrote a blog post on this exact topic:


  4. Christine Laubenstein Says:

    Hello Ina, Taariq and Pawan,

    Thanks for your comments and insight. You provide a number of reasons why Curata’s method of content curation is ethical (and even beneficial to publishers).

    Those reasons include:

    – The curated content is appropriately sourced

    – Only the first two or three sentences are curated

    – The links can bring publishers traffic

    – The curated content helps educate customers/potential customers

    – A human is partly involved

    – The links can boost the publisher’s SEO standing (since nofollows aren’t used)

    These convincing arguments make it hard to argue against Curata’s method of content curation.

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