Finding great content isn’t getting any easier. Search engines do what they can, but for many of us they’re not always adequate. And because we only have a few interests at any given point in time, we look for other ways to collect and sort through all the available material on the Web.
And that’s where curation comes in.
Curation has been going on forever, but I think we’re going to see even more of it in the years to come. And I don’t think it’ll focus primarily on computers doing the work–there has to be the right balance between the organizers, community and technology to get curation right. As much as we rely on technology to guide our lives, there’s a certain comfort and trust when we know there are humans behind it, leading the charge.
Product Hunt is a good example. Ryan Hoover and Nathan Bashaw started it with a very rough minimum viable product, got some early adopters, and then started to scale it out. Product Hunt is a daily leaderboard of new and interesting products. The engagement on the site is awesome. I’ve been there since day one, and I return frequently every day to see what’s going on. There’s not a lot of tech behind Product Hunt – it’s success is driven by the founders’ hustle and the strength of the early community. But I know over time, they’ll add more technology to manage duplications, cheating (which is almost inevitable in these sorts of things), etc.
Product Hunt actually led me to two other interesting curated resources: Happy Inbox (which tracks the best newsletters out there), and AddonList (which tracks the best products for developers). Both are very cool and worth digging into.
GrowthHackers is another great curation example. Started by Sean Ellis (who coined the term “growth hacker”), it’s an awesome resource for people interested in marketing and growth. The content on the site is incredible. People share great resources and the dialogue + engagement is powerful. GrowthHackers is helped by the fact that it was started by Sean Ellis (I’m not sure someone else would have had as much success) — he’s a leader in this field and was able to quickly bring in early adopters and get them engaged. The technology comes later.
Curation is about people. It’s about knowing what people want, when they want it, and how they want it. As smart as computers are (and will be), I think we all appreciate the front-and-center engagement of humans with high degrees of expertise in certain subjects, guiding the curation process.
I’m participating in a curation project of sorts called Launch This Year, started by Mikael Cho, founder of ooomf. I’m putting together a curated list of resources (blog posts, etc.) around analytics for early stage companies. What’s interesting about this project is the blend of curation and education. The stuff I’m putting together (along with what others on the site will be doing), will get shaped into lessons of sorts that people can follow through.
Curation isn’t just about “the best links” on a subject. Context is key as well. And again, that’s where humans come in, both organizers and community. The discussions on GrowthHackers add tons of value. The shaping of a bunch of links into a lesson or plan (“read this first, then this, then this…”) on Launch This Year will guide people through a ton of material. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the content online. Curation helps. Curation with context (whether it’s for discovery, education or some other purpose) makes things even better.
Photo courtesy of YLev.