Thing 10: Content curation

galleryWeb 2.0 has enabled internet users to create, participate, and share in entirely new ways. With so much content now available on the web, digital content curation has become a valuable skill.

In this Thing we will look at content curation, why it is valuable, and tools you can use to curate and enhance your brand.

The size of the web

The defining characteristic of Web 2.0 is that it has enabled internet users to create, participate, and share in entirely new ways. There are now more than 4 billion pages on the indexed web [source], and in a single internet minute, Twitter users tweet nearly 300,000 times, YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video, and Google receives over 4,000,000 search queries [source].

What is digital content curation?

Digital curation gives some structure and selectivity to all of this content. A digital curator finds, selects, sorts, and collates digital content relevant to a particular interest or topic, and then shares it with others.

Essentially, it adds a human layer that makes sense of the knowledge available online, and it enhances the reputation and brand of the curator.

Rogit Bhargava (2011) outlines 5 ways in which content curation is often practiced and demonstrated on the Web:

  1. Aggregation, the simplest and most common form of curation where the most relevant content about a topic is brought together in one place.
  2. Distillation, where the curator distills general discussion about a topic to its most important and relevant essence. With the proliferation of similar content available on the web, focussed, essential views of a topic have high value for a web audience.
  3. Elevation, where curators discern emerging trends or insights from curated content. This requires some analytical skill.
  4. Mashups, where curators create and present a new original point of view by juxtaposing, merging, and synthesising different content. This offers a way of creating new content, while acknowledging and building from the work of others. A wikipedia page like this one on digital curation is an example of a collaborative mashup.
  5. Chronology, which demonstrates the evolution of a topic, and changes in understanding of the topic, over a period of time.

What to curate?

Joyce Seitzinger (Australasia’s own social media curation expert) identifies three types of things you can curate:

  1. Artefacts / Objects – a range of tools can enable the collection and curation of digital artefacts. A social bookmarking tool such as Delicious is one way of curating individual artefacts into collections.
  1. Data streams – people are now able to create and access constant streams of media content including social media updates, blogs, video and twitter streams. We have already looked at one way of collecting data streams with news feeds in Thing 5.
  1. People streams / networks – The most important element of social media of course is the people who use them, and the networks these users form. Services such as Klout provide tools to allow users to find and form collections of others who share similar interests, and track interactions between themselves and other users.

Why curate?

Creating new content on a regular basis can be very time consuming. Even very prolific writers may only produce a blog post once or twice a month. However, brokering information produced by others can facilitate connections between yourself and others who share your interests, while also supporting the promotion of your personal brand, and building your reputation as a current, critical and collegial thought leader in your area.

Effective curation is beneficial to you as a researcher in managing your sources and resources. Digital content curation can serve the purpose of an annotated bibliography. You can build a collection of useful and reusable resources that makes it easy for you to find significant resources again when you need them, and saves you time.

Curated data and content can also be an interesting research data source for future study. For example, you can tag online commentary curated from different sources to gauge and reflect on popular and trending discourse about an issue or topic, and how this shifts over a given period, or in response to specific events.

The extended value in becoming a good curator however is in the social opportunities that curation can provide. Creating and sharing a resource of value to others is a good starting point for useful conversations around your research topic. It encourages interaction on your site and invites interaction with other people and resources.

Audience is an important consideration curating content. Consider who you might be curating for, and what value you could offer them. What audiences might you curate information for, and what curation expertise might you offer that they would find valuable?

Curation tools

There are a range of content aggregation and curation tools available to enable curation of different types of content including links, photos, sounds and videos.  JD Lasica has a good summary of some of these tools, including, Storify and Pearltrees:

Marcela De Vivo also covers and RebelMouse (social media aggregator) in this article:

You may also be interested in looking at Learnist, which is similar to Pinterest, but tends towards education-oriented content.

try-this-iconTry this

Content curation is about increasing the connections between yourself and other people online. For this Thing, we’d like you to reinforce these connections by sharing some content from another 23 Things for Research participant on your blog.

Search the list of 23 Things blogs on Canvas for a particularly good blog post. Share a link to that post on your own blog, along with an explanation of why you found it valuable or interesting.

(You may also like to add a comment on their post, to let them know that you have “reblogged” their post, or Tweet a message to them.)

explore-further-iconExplore further

“Digital curation … has potential for use in an educational context throughout the lifespan of both teachers and learners, from early childhood education, through to higher academic and research-based contexts. Curators can be thought leaders and change agents with their insightful selection of artifacts.”
Flintoff, K., Mellow, P., & Clark, K. P. (2014). Digital curation: Opportunities for learning, teaching, research and professional development. In Teaching and Learning Forum 2014. Retrieved from

“As the population of web citizens participating in content creation reaches critical mass, curation is emerging as a promising new way to interact with social media”
Duh, K., Hirao, T., Kimura, A., Ishiguro, K., Iwata, T., & Au Yeung, C. (2012). Creating stories: Social curation of Twitter messages. In International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. Retrieved from

“for scholars it sometimes feels as if the social media landscape changes too quickly to fully grasp and leaves scholars permanently lagging behind.”
Hogan, B. & Quan-Haase, A. (2010). Persistence and change in social media. Bulletin of Science Technology & Society, 30(5), 309-315. doi: 10.1177/0270467610380012

“we study the social value of content curation and show that curators attract more followers with consistent activity, and diversity of interests”
Zhong, C., Sundaravadlivelan, K., Shah, S., & Sastry, N. (2013). Sharing the loves: Understanding the how and why of online content curation. In Proceedings of the Seventh International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. Retrieved from


Parts of this Thing were adapted from 23 Research Things @ Melbourne / CC By-NC-SA 3.0

Header image: fortymillionsheep / Flickr / CC By-NC 2.0
Icons: Everaldo Coelho and YellowIcon / GNU Lesser General Public License

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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