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Curator Economy: Why Human Curation matters

This article looks at the concept of curator economy, why it is important and its present state in the age of information overload.

“Digital curators are the librarians of the internet”.

Anamaria Luga in Beyond on Curator Economy

With the rising quantity of content on the internet thanks to the boom of the creator economy, we are now at the age of information overload. Present-day AI is not yet powerful to wade through the vast information universe and provide content that has a context and an intent. Curators are humans who bridge this gap by curating relevant information from the vastness of information available to us. Over the years, curators have become a vital part of information commerce. The curator economy is booming and several businesses have proved it to be a sustainable business. This article looks at the context of the curator economy, why it is important and its present state in the age of information overload.

The Boom of Creator Economy

With the rising popularity of social media and the internet, the creator economy is at an all-time high. In 2021 alone, the creator economy has seen a record funding of $1.3 billion. The cost of creating content continues to go down as more content creators are appearing online. The shift of content creation from big corporations to independent small creators around the globe has resulted in an age where we are overloaded with the vast availability of information. Decentralised and democratised content on the internet is driving this creator boom.

Age of Information Overload

With the creator economy booming, sorting content from the vast universe of information is becoming harder day by day. The information you want to read is already there but is buried in the vast piles of articles, videos and blog posts. We are currently in an era overloaded with information. Every day we are bombarded with the never-ending streams of irrelevant content and it is easy to get lost in that. Here are some numbers to give you some context:

  • 300 hours of video is uploaded on YouTube every minute in 2021.
  • 90% of the data on the internet has been created since 2016.
  • By the end of 2020, 44 Zettabytes of data made up the entire digital universe growing at the rate of 1.7 Mb per second per person.
  • Every day 306.4 billion emails are sent and 500 million tweets are made.

Rise of Algorithms vs Human Curation

The rise of algorithms replacing humans in curating content started to gain some traction 20 years ago. Amazon replaced humans with algorithms for curating product recommendations to users. Algorithms play a major role in the content that we see on the internet today. Algorithms drive 70% of content on YouTube today.

Even though algorithms powered by AI are curating large chunks of content for users, the future of content is human to human. Human-to-Human interaction always wins over the logic of algorithms. The AI at present is limited in terms of context when it comes to curation. The main aim of AI is to make users stay on the platform as long as possible. The big difference between AI and humans is the intent behind it. Even though humans are inefficient in processing large chunks of information like AI, a human can bring context to information. A human can analyze content, find common themes and display only the relevant information. Even though AI is here to stay, as of now, it cannot replace human curation. Every curator is different as his/her skills and knowledge are different. So is the curator’s audience. These all factors create a unique combination that cannot be replaced by the AI advancement we have now.

📰 If you're interested, check out 10+1 Things: A weekly newsletter finely curated by me featuring 11 interesting things to feed your curiosity. Read the latest issue.

The Birth of Curator Economy

Curation of content enables users to understand, explore and make sense of the topic or issue by organising the best available information sources on the internet. When the information is served with a context, insights can be easily drawn saving time and effort.

Curation is one of the 3 Cs of information commerce: Creation, Curation and Consumption. Curation requires time and proper attention to sort through hundreds of articles and posts to recommend information. The curation economy is booming and over the years curation has become a sustainable business. As mentioned earlier, curation requires some effort and curators often monetize their work for this. To give you some idea of the current state of the content curation economy, here are some examples:

  • FlowState on Substack charges $8/month to get access to curated Spotify lists.
  • The Browser charges $5/month to access weekly article recommendations. The Browser currently has 10000+ subscribers who pay them annually.
  • The Generalist has 33,000+ subscribers and generates around $11,000 per month.
  • NowIKnow is a free newsletter that sends interesting things daily to your inbox has over 100,000 subscribers and makes around $1500 per month from patrons.
  • Everything Bundle has 1000+ paid subscribers within the first month of going premium.

Why Content Curation is Important

Based on my experience and research here’s a list of reasons what
makes content curation important:

  • Information is growing at an all-time high rate every day. There are multiple blogs, social channels and news sources launched every day. This makes finding relevant content more and more difficult.
  • With the rising information tsunami, it becomes hard for people who are inexperienced or new to the internet to identify reliable sources of information. If not checked properly, users are served with spam on misleading content.
  • Webmasters and creators are concerned over the visibility on various platforms, thereby optimizing titles and content for search engine optimization. This often leads to spammy content with clickbaity titles and no relevance.
  • Since the average free time for a person is decreasing, it is essential to only deliver and consume content that is precise, concise and relevant.
  • To get a grasp of the whole idea, some content usually needs to be contextualized.

How to become a Content Curator

A content curator is someone who wades through the vastness of information, chooses the best content and presents it in a context to the audience. Proper curation is about understanding the limited amount of time and attention span of the audience that is consuming the content. Best content creators consume large chunks of information, render the best from it to concise pieces of information by highlighting it to the audience.

For my newsletter 10+1 Things, I follow the steps below for curation:

  • Since curation requires expertise and knowledge, I read extensively ever since I started the newsletter. Every week I read 40+ newsletters, 70+ articles, 2 books and watch 20+ informative or documentary-style videos.
  • Every time I consume an interesting piece of information that triggers my curiosity, I create a note about it on my Knowledge Management platform, Obsidian.
  • On Fridays, from the long list of ideas, I finely curate 11 outstanding stories to create a skeleton for the newsletter. Every story featured will be cross-checked to ensure factual accuracy.
  • Content finalized on Friday will be elaborated on Saturday with further information to match the style and context of the newsletter.
  • Grammar check and readability tests are done to ensure content is delivered the best possible way for the audience.

Conclusion

The concept of the curator economy is not new and has been discussed over the years as the future of content. Curation can eventually build a personal brand or audience. Data has shown the content curation is booming and is a sustainable source of income.

“The future is in the intersection of Content Curation, Knowledge Management and Community”.

Founder of Glasp

This article is not an original idea and was inspired by researching various articles, research notes and blog posts from the internet. Read more about the reference sources and my research notes on my Digital Garden.

Enjoyed this article? If so, check out my 10+1 Things Newsletter that I send out every Saturday. It contains 11 interesting Things I thought were worth sharing including books,articles, projects, and other things I'm curious about. Click here if you would like to check out the previous issues and may be subscribe!  

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