I have a Safe Hands Facebook page on which I share my own writing, as and when I do any writing. I also use it to share links about topics that interest me: editing, writing, journalism, business models for journalism, health and so on. I try to share one article a day on Facebook, and another on Twitter as part of promoting my business.
All this takes some time so I was gratified when a friend recently thanked me for the links, calling them: “Curation at its best.”
Which made me think that it might be useful to write a little about curation, and to share where I find my links.
The Oxford dictionary definition of the word curate goes like this:
Select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition):
1.1 Select the performers or performances that will feature in (an arts event or programme
1.2 Select, organize, and present (online content, merchandise, information, etc.), typically using professional or expert knowledge
I guess I am doing 1.2 – selecting, organising and presenting.
In newspapers, this function is carried out by a person called a copytaster who scans the publication’s news sources (ie the “wires”) and suggests possible articles that will work for that publication’s readers. That function carries over to online news, though it might not be called copytasting. (See this article for more on different kinds of editing).
How the big players do it
Curating for a newspaper or an online news site is demanding and stressful, but it is made easier by a set of limited parameters:
- there will be finite list of sources which the publication has the rights to use
- the feeds will usually sit inside the company’s content management system
- and the prism through which articles are filtered will be the publication’s known policies and leanings, and the copytaster’s understanding of the interests of readers.
When done online, knowledge about the interests of readers is derived from the publication’s own tracking systems and from external systems like Google Analytics or Chartbeat.
How I do it
For a freelance curator like me the landscape is considerably bigger! My potential links exist in the whole of the internet – how do I find them then? Here are my secrets:
Feedly allows you to get feeds from websites, and to organise them according to categories as you see fit. I have categories for editing and writing, for journalism and for news (among others). Then as I am going about my way on the web, I find sites that are interesting and add them, like this:
Every day, I visit Feedly (which I have bookmarked) and find a list of headlines, organised into topics that interese me. Fabulous!
I follow over 400 people/organisations on Twitter – there just isn’t any way to keep track. So I use Twitter’s lists feature. As I find interesting people or organisations I add them to a list (often I do this rather than following them). Here’s how that looks:
And this is what a list page looks like.
Every day, I check my lists quickly and see who has been saying what.
Tip: You can have other people do all the hard work and subscribe to their lists. Mine are here.
This is a social media sharing site that I don’t really use for its intended purpose. In the free version, you can set up a content stream based on keywords, like this:
And then you look at it every day to see what’s there. It has much wider scope than Twitter or Feedly and often turns up things that aren’t in my own filter bubble (Breitbart turns up occasionally, for instance).
Yes, yes – it’s just a blogging site. But it has some seriously good writers. You get an account, start following people and topics via its Customise Your Interests feature and then go back every day to see what has turned up.
This changes all the time. I subscribe to sites or aggregation services as I go, and then unsubscribe as they turn out be useless (or not). I have them filtered into one folder in my email, and then just skim through that folder once a day. My current crop includes:
Nuzzel (sends you stories based on what your contacts are sharing on Twitter)
Piqd – seemed promising, offering curated content from the web. But hasn’t delivered much so far.
The Knife – US site that takes topics of the day and see how slanted/distorted/spun they are. Fascinating but hardly ever covers African stories
Burn Media – good source of local tech news
Bizcommunity – marketing and media news