Curation is traditionally defined as “The act of organizing and maintaining a collection of artworks or artifacts”.
Curators are knowledgeable about their domain and hence the ability to pick the best work for a collection based on their research and knowledge of the subject matter.Curation has two defined characteristics – organization and maintenance - Organization implies that you can always access the collection and know where things are - Maintenance implies that you can always add or subtract items in time.
Many products or activities that are simply filtering – even human filtering are advertised as curation products. For example many call twitter list’s as curation - But is that really curation? How? The list is just a list and the tweets are random. Lists are certainly filters, but can they be identified as curation?
Another activity that is being branded as curation is what traditionally has been known as syndication. This article by “Steve Rosenbaum” is branding Huffington Post as a curation site – A content site where editors pick other people’s content for different segments of their publication. Is this really curation or loose syndication?
A search on Huffington post on “social media” gives me this. It’s certainly a nice list, but where is the organization? where is the organized context?
Let’s compare the same search on KBucket. The search for "social media" gives you this with other related articles organized and accessible in context.
I think there is a lot of value in filtering and managing streams – Aggregation with human editorial touch is also very useful and there are great successful models of that like techmeme.com – But these are not new activities, they have been around.
What is new with curation are tools and platforms that let users be managers of context and also search for information in context Organization, purpose and maintenance define the value of the curated set. Search defines the value of the curated platform.