The content economy (or ‘The case for curation’)

A man sits at a desk in a book shop

Why should you curate content? Tommy Collison of Lambda School summed it up in this tweet (and why write when someone else already has?):

I want to expand on this, and suggest why companies not only should, but ultimately will, curate content.

Numerous creators earn money by bundling other people’s writing; the value-add is bringing it together in one place, saving readers time by sifting through and finding the good stuff for them.

Now is the time for businesses to follow suit.

In the paradigm into which we are fast heading — where any business is a media company — content has to be valuable in and of itself.

And this is why curation counts for so much. You are trading access for attention. In our online world, audiences care less and less about where content emanates from, only that it’s good, and visible. Any half-decent content strategy needs to, therefore, include creating content for your audience and community, and curating it.

But this approach can feel inimical. If content (read: owned content) is a competitive advantage, why would you, a B2B software investor (to run with the VC example from my last piece) ever share Christoph Janz’s SaaS Napkin?

The answer is simple: curation is a positive-sum game.

The sea-change is that you can derive value from curation even if the creator — who may well be a direct competitor — does too. And the upside continues, because the curation also creates residual value: you can be a librarian, not just the author of one series.

I think of this as the fractional reserve era of content — one where a decent read can generate value for multiple, even competing, parties, at the same time.

And it’s not too bonkers to conjecture that evolving a cooperation reflex around content which, as part of that process, will be productised and monetised by millions of organisations, could usher in a new business order.

At some point, I’ll take a stab at suggesting what emergent properties we might see from companies sharing, and mutually benefiting from, stuff they write down or record.

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