A few weeks ago, I was participating on the #prwebchat when someone posed the question, “what’s the difference between content creation and content curation.”
I responded, “Creators write, curators collect & aggregate. Anyone can curate, not everyone can create.” Apparently this struck a chord, because a lot of people were responding and retweeting to what was just a throwaway line which made me realize there’s a lot more to this idea than I originally thought.
Thanks to the blog tools and plug-ins (like Zemanta, which lets you link to related articles), Twitter lists, and RSS readers, anyone can compile a list of the interesting stuff. It’s a matter of identifying the most interesting articles from very popular or esoteric sources, and sharing them with your network.
But I don’t think content curation is that valuable. It’s important, to be sure. With a semi-decent RSS reader, anyone can be a content curator. But it’s not that valuable. Think of what the curators are actually collecting: content that someone else created.
Truman Capote once said of Jack Kerouac’s literary efforts, “That’s not writing. That’s typing.”
A stinging rebuttal to be sure, but it’s one that explains the difference between creation and curation.
Think of the effort that goes into creating a single blog post. There’s research to be read, surveys to be compiled, and opinions to be formed. And then you have to be able to present it in a way that not only flows logically, but is compelling to readers.
Still, curators cannot exist without creators to provide them with material to share; creators rely on curators to make sure their stuff is shared. So I can’t entirely bag on the curators, since 1) I rely on them, and 2) I’m trying to be one myself too.
Occasionally you’ll get creators who can handle their own curation — and that’s what social media has done for us — but we always get a boost when other people do some curation for us. For example, I always see a huge traffic spike whenever Jason Falls shares my blog posts with his readers. And Jason is a great example of someone who both curates and creates in order to provide value to his network.
So which are you? Are you creating, curating, or doing both? Is one more important than the other, or are they equally necessary? Can content creation actually live without curation? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on Amazon.com, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.