Brands Have a Role to Play in Helping People Find the Good Stuff

Digital Curation Is a Key Service in Attention-Strapped Economy

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The internet offers an endless buffet of choices. And that supply of content choices is far outstripping demand (our attention). As a result, each of us is going to have to make choices about what we consume and when.

Steve Rubel
Photo: JC Bourcart
Steve Rubel is a marketing strategist and blogger. He is senior VP-director of insights at Edelman Digital.
Today we're increasingly electing to allow Facebook to dominate our attention. According to a recent study released by Drake Direct, the social network now accounts for 25% of all page views on the web. Facebook is also rapidly closing in on Google, the top site in terms of visitors. Tomorrow another site may emerge, but I expect these two powerhouses to continue their dominance for the foreseeable future. Google and Facebook know how to combine algorithms and friends in clever ways that surface relevant content that we care about right when we need it.

Still, Google and Facebook can't consume 100% of our attention. What's more, they're often a mile wide and half-an-inch deep. This means that whatever time remains up for grabs will likely to flow to human-powered or automated sites that curate content in high-interest niches. Smart companies are already seeing this and staking their claim to categories.

Here are a five places where you can see digital curation at work:

  • My Parents Were Awesome is a group-contributed tumblelog that honors our elders and has received national recognition.
  • PopURLs Brown Edition, by UPS, curates information all around business news.
  • Microsoft has built an entire brand-streaming site that showcases conversations around Windows 7.
  • Sawhorse Media is creating a next generation media company by curating tweets in different topics like pets and now Twitter lists too.
  • IBM is using Tumblr to curate ideas for a smarter planet.

It's clear to me, a least, that digital curation -- both automated and human-powered -- will be the next big thing to shake the web. There's an evergreen need for those who can separate art from junk online. However, in this era, journalists won't be the only ones to fulfill it. Brands, as the examples above illustrate, can play here too.

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