Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Content Curation

The internet is full of information and we all look at it everyday. We surf for entertainment, for research on where to eat, for the best doctor or dentist in our area, and just to see what our friends have been up to among many other uses. As we search through this information we also make comments and post terabytes of data. Content curation is all about how we find, save and share data that we like, find interesting or think that somebody else might find interesting.
When I first started researching this topic I tried to make sure that I had an open mind but I had low expectations for how these kinds of tools might be beneficial for anything other than entertainment or perhaps marketing purposes. I in fact did find that there can be a number of uses that an agency, non-profit, or firm might have for content curation tools.
I have found that for me it helps to put content curation tools into 3 categories; Aggregation tools, User Curation tools, and Bookmarking tools.
Aggregation tools are automated in some way. A user sets some sort of parameter and the tool then begins to aggregate together the sources that the user has requested. In some ways these tools act like a limited search engine. One example of how this works would be if an individual selected the twitter feeds of several news agencies that focused on science and technology and then selected the Pintrest account for the National Science Foundation (this is pure speculation because I am unsure if NSF has a Pintrest account) which the aggregation tool would then pull together, according to a regular schedule, for the individual to view  and make comment on.
For the purposes of the government the most obvious use is to highlight important topics and push them towards the public and encourage the spread of a particular topic. Some tools that fall into this category are Feedly, Google Currents, Curata, and The Tweeted Times
User Curation tools are not automatic by contrast and rely on an individual filtering and selecting relevant information on a specific topic. I found that this tool was particularly useful for saving research and sharing it with others. Sites like Pintrest, Pearltrees and Tumblr allow a user to gather information together that can range from video and picture formats to websites, documents, and tweets. The information is then saved and shared for comment and in some formats can even be edited by other users. All of these tools obviously have potential use in participatory governance. One of my favorite uses though is how Americorp is using it not only to advertise but also to sustain the community feeling of Americorp.
The last category is that of Bookmarking tools. These tools help to track a path through the webpages that people find interesting or useful and again should be based around a particular subject. My favorite tool in this group was Surfmark. I played with this one for a while and it occurred to me that this would be an excellent way to breach the walls that exist between agencies. I pictured someone doing research for their drivers license on the DMV website and being directed through an application to a saved search on school zone safety that tracked through several webpages on statistics, pictures and perhaps even the opportunity to volunteer as a crossing guard with the local school district.
The uses are only limited by the creativity of the content curators and there is the real opportunity to tap into the creativity of the general public. Content curation must be a good fit for the agency and the mission there of and not all tools are created equally. With careful consideration governments can make content curation tools into a powerful asset for reaching the public that they serve and for encouraging greater participation.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for abundant explanation on curation. Pearltrees site is impressive to show big relation to relevant site with one shot.
    Contents Curation sites are very useful to get more accurate information on government side. Especially, the same kinds of information about specific theme can be chased and categorized, so easily find out the accounts;public events, policy memo, and announcement on participation and survey.