Content Creators, Aggregators and Curators, what has happened to the Curator?

The two roles that stood out for me in Richard Scarry’s21st Century Busy Town Jobs” cartoon were those of “content creator” and “content aggregator” – although the “web design complicator so that users will accidentally click on ads” role did make me smile.


It seems then that the “curation” phase is over?, was nobody able to monetize it or has it just evolved into a human role that helps teach the algorithmic aggregators like a CAPTCHA teaches the OCR?

Flipboard like their “creators” to be curators of content that they aggregate:

“You’re more curating than you are creating: endorsing and recommending content,” says McCue. “Curating is a much easier thing. We’ve been watching our beta testers, and they have been creating all sorts of amazing magazines.”

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Attributing journalists to content and discovering their social identity

The more that I subscribe to RSS feeds and consume “content” via RSS feeds in apps such as Flipboard or Zite the more aware I am becoming of the article author(s). This is compounded by following more journalists on Twitter and seeing their Tweets promoting their work that reinforces for me the connection between them and their content – I am finding this a useful filter for sources such as the Guardian where I tend to look for the author by-line before reading the article.

However, there appear to be a lot of unsung journalists who do not receive any attribution in a “formal” by-line or if they are attributed there is not link to find out more about them and maybe “follow” them on Twitter or other social networks.


In terms of identity Twitter has become the default social profile for journalists taking far more prominence over LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. For TV news the @handle is the simplest and most effective to convey and newspapers are even curating pages dedicated to their journalists like The Times Twitter Directory (old version), or Bloomberg who provide profile pages for “Opinion” authors together with embedded Tweets and and RSS feed of their articles (rare to see an RSS feed for Bloomberg!).

RSS is the predominant technical means of syndicating content. RSS feeds comprise of a “channel” section relating to the whole feed (eg “Business news”) “items” relating to each article, these channel and items sections all have “elements” that are used to mark-up and describe the content. From an attribution point of view the RSS <item> element caters for an <author> and suggests usage relates to an email address but also notes that some developers do not use this to avoid spam. Where an RSS feed is published by an individual (as opposed to multiple people publishing items in the same feed) the RSS Advisory Board recommends using the channel managingEditor or webMaster elements. Email address does not seem very “social” for each item and managingEditor or webMaster does not seem very “personal” from an attribution point of view.

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Social signal overload and social “communities”

Tools in social media to provide a validation signal to the creator in terms of “like”, “favourite”, “kudos” etc. have become the norm but along with them comes the danger of dilution through liking everything and implicitly stating that every blurry badly taken Instagram is a “favourite” of mine when clearly it isn’t.

I can appreciate, admire and enjoy a post, photo, Strava ride etc. but don’t want to feel like I have to publicly “cheer” and endorse every one of them!

Cheers! by marc thiele


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Tweeting URLs, context is everything

Twitter is a link sharing machine and it is undoubtable that what you share can build a picture about your interests that can be algorithmically determined as evidenced by services such as Klout, but to what extent is context and sentiment analysed?

When we share a link the options are:

  • manual – compose a tweet putting the link to be shared in context personal to you
  • semi-automatic – click the share button on the website to share the link with the predefined message prepared by the website publisher
  • retweet – retweet the link with the context prepared by others

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Digital Newsroom Reporting Skills: No journalism required

An interesting article by Roy Greenslade on “The reality of digital newsrooms

So, after linking to article and without further to do here is an image and a couple of quotes because that is what blogging is Smile

File:The associated press building in new york city.jpg

Image: The Associated Press Building in New York cc-by

The reality of a modern digital newsroom is complete reliance on the wires and PA. I have worked for three national newspaper websites, and all of them want copy thrown online with a photo. No journalism required. It is basically admin.

Quite a contrast to one of the press wires “where life is never dull” for their Chief Reporter.

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Summarising the news

We’re quite used to seeing news summaries everywhere now: on websites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn and in apps like Zite and Flipboard. The news summaries tend to follow the same format of being a title, short description para and an accompanying image – as most web applications use the news summaries that we see has become quite uniform.

Most mainstream publishers include the meta tags title, description, and/or Facebook Open Graph Protocol and other other markup which is respected and used by RSS was probably the precursor to the main “consumer” of the markup and presenting these summaries in the produced feeds: 


oEmbed is also used to show and embedded version of the “full” content, eg Slideshare presentation, YouTube video, SoundCloud audio etc.

Circa and Yahoo! New Digest are taking a different approach.

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2014: build a news app to chase that $uper Pac

2014 is looking like it will be the year for the rise of news “appification” built on the social web, ranging from circa curating, distilling and presenting news digests and doing, well, doing what Summly, or rather Yahoo! Digest appears to be doing along with @jason and Inside (inspired by to new news ventures such as First Look Media and World Post to established media companies such as News Corp and the Washington Post.

What is the opportunity for all this sudden interest in news and journalism?

The Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project from November 2013 may hold some insight:

Profile of the Social Media News Consumer

Social media news consumers still get news from a variety of other sources and, in some cases, even more so than the general public does. YouTube, LinkedIn and Google Plus news consumers are more likely than Facebook and Twitter news consumers to watch cable news. Twitter news consumers are among the least likely to turn to local and cable TV. And nearly four-in-ten LinkedIn news consumers listen to news on the radio, compared to about a quarter of the general population.

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What blogging was… reclaming my identity on the web

cc-by liquidnight

cc-by liquidnight

I enjoyed reading this post “what blogging was” by David Weinberger that was a personal “memoir” of his blogging history.

I have become more fascinated by the early blogging “community” aspects recently and in particular the more “openness” to external websites, networks and so on compared with the big familiar social network platforms that currently dominate.

Before Twitter et al I used to regularly blog and used it as a way of digging deeper into a topic and as a way of reflection to articulate (to myself) what my thoughts were at that time. That blog has long gone and although the content is archived I have little to no interest in reinstating it. I do, however, now have a desire to blog again and to reclaim my own space and identity on the web and not be silo’d into any particular publishers platform.

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