We’ve seen many automated content curation tools (often powered by AI) that claim to curate effective content for employees. 

But there is a difference between content CURATION and content AGGREGATION. Technology can aggregate. It collects, sorts, and categorizes based on taxonomy and keywords. 

Curation takes aggregation one step further and inserts the “human element” to make it relevant. The definition of curation is: the action or process of selecting, organizing, and looking after the items in a collection. Ah, looking after. Think of traditional curators in a museum, for example. They have an important role in the organization to gather, share and protect their collection. This cannot be 100% automated – the person is very important part of the process. The same is true when content needs to be curated: people make the difference.

Don’t be mistaken: technology plays a critical role in effective curation, but without editorial oversight and vision, you are likely not delivering content that is effective, engaging and useful to your employees.

So, why can’t a machine do end-to-end curation? 

Machines Can’t Create Effective Commentary

Commentary is the real value of content curation. What is commentary? Think of it as your own spin on the core information. Especially if content is curated from outside your organization (for example, a recent news article), it’s good for a person to lend perspective and relevancy on why this article is important, what impact the news may have, and more. If access to content (aggregation) is the appetizer, then commentary is the main course. Done correctly, commentary will reinforce your perspective and be something that is highly sought after by your audience.

There isn’t a machine yet that can produce effective commentary that is insightful, relevant, or even humorous. Sure, a computer might have passed the Turing test, but this is a far cry from providing a few lines of text that make you nod, smile, or even send an email starting a conversation with your team or customers.

No Machine Can Decipher Quality

The current state of automated curation looks at social shares and content engagement. While these might be a good indication of what is popular, they don’t mean it’s what your audience will find of value. Coupled with commentary, content quality is a critical factor for keeping your audience engaged and informed. If the content simply isn’t a good fit, it should not be included. It might include all the keywords and check all the (machine) boxes, but only a person can say if the article meets the needs of the audience.

Machines Lack Empathy

Combining commentary and quality, let’s take a look at the emotional element of curation: specifically, empathy. Machines don’t think or feel like us humans, so they inherently lack a critical element that most people possess. 

People can look at content and relate – we can feel what our audience feels. “Put yourself in your audience’s shoes” and you have a good idea of their pains, their aspirations, and their wants and needs. How will they react to this content emotionally? No computer or curation tool can get even close to knowing this.

Let’s face it: good content curation evokes an emotion in your audience. A computer can’t watch 30 seconds of video and feel the same range of emotions that a person can. Sure a machine can tell you that a ton of people have watched a certain video. But that machine won’t be able to tell you “this video is perfect for your audience” or “don’t share this video as it’s entertaining but your audience wouldn’t appreciate this from you”.

The Challenge of Curation

Excellent content curation is not easy. As we say at TEG, it’s a combination of process, people, content and technology – in the perfect proportions. We wish there was a universal magic formula we could offer our clients to curate. Unfortunately, there is not – but this open-ended equation leaves plenty of opportunity to do curation well. Our takeaway is: good content curation still requires a human element. Until machines/computers can replicate the same nuances produced by the human mind, it will be tough to see how automation really can reliably produce an effective result.

The human element is the main reason why we do what we do at TEG. We love to help make our clients successful as they design, build and deploy their own learning ecosystems. If you’d like to know more about how we can support your team, contact us at [email protected].