More content is produced every day than a person can consume in a lifetime. It would take the average music listener 59 years to listen to all new professional music sold in a year, and the average reader 247 years to read all new books in a year. The rate of video production is even higher, with 12 years of video uploaded every day to YouTube. Simply put, we are overloaded with content.
When you want to find new content you like, by definition, you don’t know what it’s called yet. And if you don’t know what it’s called, you don’t have keywords to search with, and Google can’t find it for you. A common work around is to describe what you would like to find, like “good music” and Google will retrieve results—millions of them—and leave you to sort them out. And that’s the core problem of content overload: sorting too many results. Google can’t sort them for you because it doesn’t know your personal definition of “good”. To complicate matters, what is good for you may be bad for someone else. Search engines can’t tell the difference because they don’t understand the subjective.
And neither does Facebook. It’s popular to speculate that social networks like Facebook will help people discover content they like. What people find however, is that social networks increase the torrent of information in our lives rather than focus it. Facebook displays what your friends post and does not prioritize content based on your subjective tastes.
Content curation is changing this. Millions of people are curating on services such as Pinterest, Topiat, and Tumblr and producing tens of millions of human powered recommendations. Similar to a previous era when independent book store owners could provide personal, informed book recommendations, and when record store employees could personally guide you to new music, curation reinvents recommendations for the digital age—and it’s growing at a scale not seen since the invention of blogging.
Content curation is set to overturn the $2.2 trillion global creative industry. It revolutionizes how we create, market, and discover content. Whereas today’s tools force consumers to either wade through endless oceans of unknown content, or appeal to top-ten lists aimed at the lowest common denominator, content curation points to a future where likable content finds you. For content creators, curation allows for success outside the manic extremes of superstardom and obscurity, growing a healthy middle of niche-markets organized by the curators who make sense of it. And it revolutionizes how content is sold as consumer trust moves further away from traditional brands to the curators who lead tastes.