3 curation sites to watch (and emulate)
As media companies experiment with a variety of curation models and tactics, a number of non-traditional publishers are stepping into the media space with their own collections of curated content designed to attract and engage visitors.
Consumer and B2B publishers can learn a few tricks from these sites, which are innovating in a variety of ways, including design, presentation, personalization and social sharing. Here are three to keep an eye on (and possibly borrow from).
ROCKZi is a news-driven website that was launched earlier this month by the creators of search engine Blekko. Patterned after sites like Digg and Reddit, ROCKZi organizes new stories by topic via “news boards” – similar to Pinterest pinboards – with Gen-Yish names like GamerZ, Stylista, Blue State and Newsologie.
The topic pages are similar to Flipboard, except the links are submitted by users via a bookmarklet button. People can vote on their favorites (“this rockz”), comment on or share an article via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
“More and more, we are seeing that people want to curate the web, and ROCKZi gives them the right set of tools to curate in a way that is easy and seamless,” Blekko said in a blog post introducing the site.
ROCKZi is closely tied to Blekko, a search engine that uses a concept called slashtags to filter out spam and other clutter from search results by crawling only sites that Blekko (and registered users) deem to have high-quality content.
“Blekko is all about curation — people want to curate, you just have to give them the right set of tools,” co-founder and VP of marketing Mike Markson told TechCrunch. “The goal with ROCKZi is to take the curation aspect out of the hands of just the power-users and hand it to the everyday users.”
LinkedIn continues to build out its publishing model with design improvements that provide a cleaner presentation of the updates and headlines that are most relevant to members.
The approach is more aggregation than curation, but LinkedIn adds value - a key role of any curator - by leveraging its member data to personalize news collections to members based on their profiles, interests and network. The LinkedIn Today page also includes curated Editors’ Picks featuring the top stories of the day.
The new design also reinforces the social layer that allows members to share content with their network and discover what others are reading.
The new design “makes it quick and easy to stay on top of what matters most, such as trending topics, news, and professional updates based on what your connections and industry are reading, sharing, and discussing,” LinkedIn’s Caroline Gaffney said in a blog post introducing the changes. “This means you’ll be spending less time hunting for information you need to be prepared for your workday and spending more time being great at the job you’re in.” Sounds like a worthy goal of any good B2B media site.
Reddit, which began as a community site for sharing news, is evolving into a site that also breaks news. This shift was in full display following the theater shootings in Aurora, Colo., as a new type of citizen journalist emerged: the citizen curator. Shortly after news of the shootings surfaced, Reddit user Morgan Jones, under the username Integ3r, began posting updates based on news reports and social media posts, curating nuggets from multiple sources into a comprehensive timeline.
“The post fuses together reports from traditional media, updates from a police scanner, and posts from social media — including Reddit, where a victim of the shooting posted images of his wounds,” BuzzFeed’s John Herrman wrote in an exhaustive recap of Jones’ efforts. “Integ3r ... has inarguably contributed more to the early understanding of this tragedy than any other single person.”
Salon’s Michael Barthel is still not sold on Reddit (and sites like it) as media revolutionary. “Citizen journalism is doing more or less the exact same thing that traditional journalism has always done, except not as reliably or sustainably,” he wrote.
Barthel added that this model may work well for really big news stories, but masks the real value of “mainstream media”:
“For all of their problems, one of the great values of journalistic organizations is that they have people on salary whose job it is to be aware of what’s going on in a particular area of society, every day, all the time. All the little, seemingly unimportant stuff gets covered that way, and when a big story breaks there’s someone with the expertise to put it in context. With citizen journalism, the only things that get covered are the ones with a critical mass of posters large enough to properly crowdsource the story on an amateur basis; ‘klatchsourced journalism’ doesn’t really make sense.”
But putting the fast-moving Aurora scene in context is precisely what Jones did on Reddit. Not in terms of a carefully written, highly edited, flowing narrative, but context in presenting multiple facts and points of view in an organized timeline that helped people make sense out of the information flow. This type of curation is highly valuable to an audience – and something that traditional publishers should aspire to deliver to their own communities.