Continued from previous entry.

Content curators define their job as picking the best content on the Web and sharing it with customers for the same reasons that companies create original content: educating, engaging and attracting more customers according to Pawan Despande, CEO of HiveFire.

Proponents of curation argue that using third-party content is an efficient way to sift through masses of information to present the best to potential consumers. They liken their process to that of a museum or gallery curator. But the analogy quickly breaks down. Museums and galleries are financially invested, whether as owner of the object, part of a reciprocal loan or as an artist’s representative. Content curators seldom (rarely!) make financial investments in their third-party creators.

Those who create original content (“creators” or “creationists” as opposed to curators) are keenly aware of the time, personnel and monetary costs required. They know the value of offering their consumers, whether they’re personal blog readers or potential shoppers learning more about the advantages of a product, unique and authoritative content. Creators fully understand just how much hard work and time it takes to become trusted, authoritative sources.

Lee Odden pointed out in his blog that big companies, too, are coming to realize the Herculean demands of providing a steady stream of high-quality and relevant original content. He asked industry leaders to comment, and Rebecca Lieb, Vice President, North America at Econsultancy, offered that more people are relying on trusted sources for Web information. Those “trusted sources” now extend beyond family and friends to group blogs like boing boing.net which are, in essence, curation in progress.

While the persuasive powers of social media appear to foster curation, content creators and their rights are sometimes being overlooked. Establishing the economic value and setting editorial boundaries are rights of creators, and having work usurped, mashed into an aggregate assembled by someone else, and used for profit is at the heart of this debate. Companies clearly see the value in snarfing up an authoritative article from a third-party and using it to bolster their reputation, but are they compensating the creators … have they even considered it? Truthfully, few are being paid. Reprint rights are an established fact in the traditional world of publishing, but in the digital world, caveat emptor.

Stay tuned … more to come on the topic of content curation.

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