I attended an interesting webinar on “Content Curation on the Social Intranet.” given by Shel Holtz of Holtz Communication + Technology on December 13th. While the concept is not new and several articles have been written on the topic, it did make me wonder why law firms have not utilized content curation to bring together commentary that they have published on their websites, blogs, twitter feeds, email blasts, videos and podcasts. Curating the best content by topic would make it much easier for clients to find all of the information produced by a law firm on a particular subject.
According to Shel, organizations need to think like publishers and become trusted guides and content curators. In an early blog posting from 2009, Rohit Bhargava defined the content curator as “someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online.” Anybody who has used social bookmarking tools like Digg or Delicious or shared links via an email or Twitter could in fact be called a content curator.
Shel adds to this definition by stating that curators must also provide context and meaning to explain why they have decided to share specific content. According to Shel, the curation process should involve the five following steps:
- Identification – Know your audience
- Collection – Collect content based on a topic
- Documentation – Document the original sources of content
- Context – Provide additional context and meaning
- Display – Present the information in the best possible way
ITWorldCanada is an excellent example of content curation in the enterprise technology context. It collects stories from around the world and each story has an annotation as to why it is worth reading. A big thanks to Connie Crosby for highlighting two Canadian curation tools called ConnectedN and Equentia and mentioning the ITWorldCanada site on her blog. Law firms could provide similar micro sites that curate their own content from a variety of platforms on topical and timely legal issues.
A couple of tools mentioned during the Webinar are Storify and Scoop.It which combine aggregation, curation and the ability to add context to each post. I tried both and found Scoop.It easy to use. It allows you the ability to create multiple curated topics and quickly publish a blog post or web page that you are reading on the fly. The stories are presented in an online magazine format and topics are searchable and can be followed by other people. Scoop.IT also creates an automatic search that runs in the background and is based on keywords that were added during the creation of the topic. You can choose to publish any stories found in the search results, delete the story or remove the source.
In order to test the software, I created a topic called Holiday E-Cards and curated law firm holiday e-cards that have been sent to me or posted on law firm websites. I also added an e-card from a design firm that was mentioned a number of times on twitter and is quite innovative and fun! Using Scoop.It, I was able to move the position of the cards displayed as well as add personal commentary. Scoop.It just launched a professional version for business organizations that can be branded with the firm logo, colour and fonts and integrated on its website.
Shel also talked about using content curation internally to address the abundance of information on Intranets and also provide context. Good use scenarios include curating content from employee blogs, firm initiatives, training and social events. Marketing departments could also curate content about the company, competitors, industry or market place. Finally, content curation can be used for personal knowledge management to collect and organize information on specific topics. Twitter Lists, Twitter Times, Google + Sparks and Paper.Li are individual curation tools that collect content based on subject matter expertise, keywords or a particular interest, to read at a later point.
Content curation, whether used for internal or external purposes, is a very effective way to filter through the enormous amount of information that is being published on a daily basis. It helps you distinguish the signal from the noise.