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Curation Isn’t Actually A Word But It Matters A Lot

By , on June 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm

So our company does something that technically isn’t a word.

Oh sure, it’s a word in the Internet sense, in that people in a certain industry who read and talk about certain things have acknowledged its general purpose and meaning, but it definitely , at least not in this form. And if you bring it up with people who aren’t familiar with this particular flavor of jargon, well, you’re going to get a few curious looks (and maybe even some snickers).

Our company does “curation.” And no, that is technically not a word. Instead, it’s a nominalization of the verb “curate,” which means the word has been transformed into a noun through the use of the suffix “-tion.” It’s a practice that is generally frowned upon by grammar nerds everywhere, but in this case, it’s a perfect description for what we do.

With that in mind, and in the absence of an actual definition in a fancy dictionary (which these days even acknowledges “Tweet” as a word), let’s take a shot at exploring what curation means for companies like ours (and yours!):

Is curation new? In its most general sense, curation means assembling content around a specific theme or idea. People have been doing this in one form or another for years, in lots of different forms and forums: museum exhibits and collections, photo albums, radio DJs, literary magazines, etc.

How does curation work today? On the web today, curation means pulling together content from disparate sources with one unifying theme. It could be something you or your business cares about, or it could just be a topic, idea or thing that you personally care about.. The idea is that the found objects all add up to one coherent whole for the visitor or viewer.

Where do I find curation? People and businesses curate in lots of different places and forms. You can curate things on your own website (sharing quotes, pictures, videos, etc.) and you can also curate content to share with the world via your social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine and LinkedIn.

Is curation automated? While people and businesses are doing a lot of their own curation, there’s also tons of automated curation happening all the time. Whether it’s Facebook’s EdgeRank shuffling your Newsfeed, YouTube suggesting videos you might like, or Pandora choosing your next song, technology is organizing information for us (in very personal ways) all day, every day.

So why does this imaginary word matter so much these day? Why do we care about curation? Because whether it’s for a major corporation or for your new garage-rock band, curation fills out the surface area of your brand and builds a bigger, more expansive portrait of who you are and what you care about.

What’s driving it forward so much in the media and popular conversation — as opposed to a decade ago, when the extent of curation might’ve been picking articles for an email newsletter — is the expansive range of publishing and sharing tools at everyone’s fingertips. You can share a politician’s Vine, retweet a colleague’s link to a newspaper article, or tag your company in a Facebook picture, and that’s just the beginning.

Of course, with all of these options come challenges for brands (personal or otherwise), which are outlined in our previous few blog posts. But the takeaway is that it’s becoming easier and easier for you to express yourself and your company in surprisingly unique ways through other people’s content, and to share a bigger and broader vision of what you and your brand is all about. .

And if someone tries to tell you that curation isn’t a real word, you should agree with them. And then remind them that it’s a non-word that matters. A lot.

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