Before today, imitation was the greatest form of flattery. If your idea was good enough to be copied, then you were golden. But now, with the state of the web in our lives, this balance is shifting. While “copying” still does exist online, the concept of “copying” is now simply a way to bump your own Google ranking by farming someone else’s content. This, is not flattering. Even if correctly cited, 100% republished work is simply cheating to get ahead. Curation, on the other hand — the meaningful selection, enrichment, and sharing of existing media — combines imitation and creation. Curators have to create a new perspective or idea on top of the existing media which supports the content in the original.
True curators endlessly search for the best of the best, the cream of the crop. Think of them as a “critics of all the things.” Critics are often the our best sources of information — when you are checking out a new restaurant, you often take a look at what Yelp or a quick Google search has to say about them, or perhaps you read an article in your local newspaper about the establishment. Pundits are often in control of the flow of political information. Literary critics determine the success or failure of many authors’ works. Curators of online content are simply critics of many things; people who’ve been incredibly well-educated about a certain topic and are seeking the best things available in the vertical they’ve chosen.
As a creator myself, I’ve seen many straight content creators get upset that their work has been curated. We so hope we can shift this opinion! Curators are paying you the ultimate compliment when they have selected a piece of your’s to enrich and share — they think you are among the best of the best, the creme of the crop.
At the end of the day, the curator has selected your work, from the myriad upon myriad options available, to reshare with his or her network. Keep in mind the results of a simple Google search on most things — many searches are easily upward of 50 million results — and you’ve been plucked straight out of that noise. This person has willingly and organically picked up your content and shared it with a completely new and different audience, which means more eyeballs for you.
If we no longer had “critics of all the things,” the web (and real life, in many cases) would be a fundamentally different place. How would we know if restaurants were great or terrible, an infographic was beautifully done or completely biased, or even discovering new, interesting content for ourselves? The content we discover via social media and trusted sources is a pivotal part of our online experience, and is, itself, an act of active curation.
If your work is being curated, that means it’s awesome, and it also means that other people are recognizing its awesomeness. The best curators will shower you with praise, credit, and constructive criticism, which will only strengthen your own platform and bring you new fans from the curator’s audience.