Recently, Flipboard, the reading platform for iPad, announced a new feature allowing users to create their own personalized magazines with Flipboard content. Ironically, we also recently unveiled a new feature. We created Read.it, an interest-based reading application powered by Scoop.it content and curated by our community of users. Why is this ironic? Because the two huge platforms for curating and consuming content have simultaneously entered each other’s spaces at the exact same time.
Flipboard reached 20 M users in 2012. We recently reached 100 M indexed pieces of content, in just 15 months since our public launch. Both platforms are seeing immense growth and traction, but each of our respective users was looking for something more out of their platform; they wanted functions missing from their chosen content experience but available on other similar applications. A clash of titans of this magnitude must bear significance in the greater landscape of web media and content.
I think what we can take from this is that consuming content and curating content go hand-in-hand. One can’t exist without the other. A constant feedback loop and a constant content engine based on curation instead of aggregation is required to build a robust — and complete — knowledge sharing and gathering environment. Content without a home, without a place to been seen, is really just information. As curators, we strive everyday to turn information into knowledge. With no eyeballs to read it, how can we say we are successful in this mission? This is the proverbial “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear, does it make a sound” scenario. The reverse is also true — if there are people actively seeking content to edify themselves and their peers with, but the only option is a firehose of aggregated content with no discernable rhyme or reason, readers become overwhelmed by useless content that is neither value-adding or educational.
Content consumption powered by curation is the way of the future. Aggregation is dying; Google’s announcement that Google Reader will be turned off this summer is a testament to this death. A useless river of information is no longer good enough for the average reader and the 24 hour news cycle on the web. Readers and active curators alike are seeking clean, focused, interest-driven content streams with insights that don’t suck and have been organized by smart, capable, like-minded people. People, not robots.
Of course, as curators, being a major engine in the new media and content cycle places a heavy responsibility on our shoulders — but it is an incredibly noble one. Our role as media and content on the internet evolves is absolutely integral to the user experience of readers and learners all over the world. How we organize content, what context we place upon it, and how we interpret it are becoming the gold standard of what gets seen and what falls into obscurity via the black hole the web presents.
Don’t get me wrong — curators also absolutely need passive readers. We can only survive on our own fat for so long, meaning we can only survive with only other curators seeing and using our content for so long. Curators need passive readers to spread their message and learn from their content.
Curation is an irreplaceable part of the new content consumption and knowledge-sharing cycle just as passive readers are becoming an irreplaceable part of the curation cycle. This union is the ideal environment for smart, immensely valuable, and educational content on the web to proliferate and spread like wildfire, which ultimately what we want. A smarter world is a better world.
So I challenge you, curators. Are you up for it? Are you up for the responsibility of keeping the pulse of relevant content under your thumb? Because readers around the world need you.