The Value Equation: Curators and Aggregators


More data and information are available to more people today.

Yet, the science and art of seeing patterns, zooming on what matters, connecting the dots, and betting on the right futures that can make or break a business still depend on the ability to filter, sort, interpret, and make decisions.

All characteristics of human intervention.

In a business, you look closely at the profit and loss (P&L), the actual representation of what is happening, not just at what is possible.

It's the same conversation with people. While we know that at the time of birth each human being has the same genetic potential of Leonardo da Vinci, not everyone gets there. Experience matters.

Difference between content aggregators and curators

Even as search parameters and algorithms are becoming more sophisticated, there is a reason why people still make their own playlists, consume information differently, and use multiple/multimedia sources.

Curation is very different than aggregation.

There are power tools you can use for content aggregation, with curation done by you. The role of content curation in developing and transmitting news is not the purview of news organizations anymore. Journalists and editors have a knack — and training — for doing it better.

Take a look at this list of nearly 100 fantastic pieces of journalism curated by Conor Friedersdorf, associate editor at The Atlantic. It is probably not the list you would compile. However it's filtered by someone who understands good content and is not just a list of articles that got the most page views.

That would be produced by a content aggregator. The difference is judgment and a personal, if trained, bias. I particularly liked the multimedia and art of storytelling sections. Some of it you may recognize from links that got spread on Twitter, others are new discoveries.

I even spotted an article titled exactly the same as a blog post I wrote two full years earlier — generation why. You know what they say about great minds… and validation is good for the heart.

Curating information

There is still plenty of opportunity to curate information as your content strategy.

Being found in search — by engines that aggregate and sort content — is the mere tip of the iceberg. If your value doesn't come across when people land on your site, your bounce rate and business conversion suffer. You suffer proportional to the degree of expectation matching reality.

Case in point — I was looking for a photographer a couple of days ago. Although I spent about thirty minutes searching for one using the appropriate keywords and geography within the context of a business setting, I kept getting results on family portraits and weddings.

When I asked my network, I came up with environmental and funky landscape photography. Also not a good match. Because a search is still subjective and situational, if you take that kind of photography and wanted more business, you'd have a really good chance of standing out.

Build a curated collection of work you have done. Put smart keywords in your posts. Help people share it with their friends. Here's an example of a curated photographic collection that has "road trip" as the theme.

I would have added keywords in there if I wanted to attract clients for photography on the road. Show what you know through what it looks like — using lighting to flatter an image or highlight a particular spot, adding color to make an interesting backdrop to the story, etc.

Selecting content with specific criteria in mind is a form of curation. Aggregating the information is good, adding observation and analysis takes it further, and makes it more valuable.

In digital formats, it also means giving others the ability to find your work more easily. Even museum exhibits attract on the strength of the story they help people tell.

Value equation 

You've got to distinguish between what if and what is when you look at true value creation and valuation.

While value is subjective and situational — entire brands, and economies, are built upon good stories people want to hear and tell, because they identify with them. Execution sets apart what gets found and talked about and what isn't.


I've been curating content and information at this site for almost five years, and I have more than 1 million and 107-thousand page views to show for it.

This is a very engaged and smart community of professionals who are making ideas happen every day and are connecting with other people and businesses to do so.

Based upon many conversations I had in the last couple of months, I decided to offer you the ability to promote your business, event, or service at this site by sponsoring its weekly feed. I'm just getting started with this model, so there is room to experiment with you on optimal exposure.

Learn more about how to become a sponsor here.


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0 responses to “The Value Equation: Curators and Aggregators”

  1. The Web as we now know it started off with keyword stuffing and spam.
    Then we had ‘authority’ as our goal.
    Then we had to become ‘trust agents’.
    Thanks for the insight, it illustrates how sophisticated the online world has become. Trust is now about true commitment to your industry and all it offers, on a daily basis.
    Know your industry, gain authority.
    Keep up the great thinking. Appreciate the perspectives.

  2. Valeria, I know I’ve already reached out to you once in regards to a business proposition. I guess I’m raising my “This is my second time” flag.
    The first half of your post talks about aggregators…
    How would you feel about contributing to my company’s #SMMGR Magazine on a periodic basis? Unlike guest posting, we’ll utilize some of your archived blog posts (so you don’t have to write new content) and help you (1) establish thought leadership and (2) elevate your brand’s visibility and buzz with our readership?
    Additionally, if you have any products or affiliate programs, we’ll earn a commission off any sales made through the newsletter, you’ll get more exposure / sales / leads, and our readership will learn from you, a qualified expert. It’s a win-win-win.
    Please send me an email if this sounds of interest to you.
    P.S. We already have Yaro Starak and Natalie Sisson on board.

  3. Story. Such a simple concept, but so poignant.
    Yes, aggregation has value, especially in a world where there are crazy terabytes worth of information being created on a daily basis. It’s almost impossible *not* to curate on some level. I think we’re always filtering in one way or another, be it a niche, or even just the random pursuits of a gearhead who dabbles in knowledge management/social media. 😉
    Curation, however, is akin to journalism. It’s about context. It is the how behind the why. I don’t think you can be very successful at curation without an eye on specific outcomes. So the story should parallel pathways to those outcomes.
    Aggregators are digital hoarders.
    Curators are digital story tellers.
    Really appreciate this one, Valeria. Best of luck to you with the new sponsorship project. You’ve built a community on genuine value over the years and I know anything you might do to monetize this site is only an effort to further benefit us. 🙂

  4. I would like you to pause and consider that a) I have built a platform out of 10+ years of hard work online — who needs exposure from whom? b) as I wrote at the end of this post, the opportunity for you is to be a paid sponsor at this site.
    Or maybe you’d like to subscribe to my premium newsletter. Chase, I appreciate the comments. Is selling me your products on my site appropriate when I politely said I am not interested offline?

  5. I’m really glad you see it that way. Plus, now I have something to point companies that pitch me to that can benefit us both. You do know that I am still a useful filter because my aim is to facilitate a meaningful conversation.

  6. I don’t think the difference is as pronounced as you’re implied it to be.
    Aggregation and curation can work hand in hand very well. As a leading aggregation, curation & republishing platform, we’re seeing that curation and aggregation are just a means to an end (ref
    Aggregation empowers the curator. And human curation enriches the aggregation results. They are very related.

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