I ran across an article recently called Content Is No Longer King: Curation Is King. Naturally, with a headline like that, I had to take a look.
What I saw was a discussion about how content has become ubiquitous and unfiltered. Content can be created by almost anyone now (any semi-literate person with an Internet connection can create online content).
But does that mean that content is no longer king? I'd have to say no.
What it does mean is that there's an awful lot of content to choose from. Thus, the importance of curation. Separating wheat from chaff and getting the good stuff in front of enough eyeballs.
Ah, but who makes the determination of what's eyeball-worthy? That's the question.
The article refers to "pressures" the overabundance of content creates on certain institutions. They include publishing, experts, advertising and search. (Um, when did search become an institution? Oh, never mind ...)
In the interests of brevity, I'll focus on publishing. (Even though, as a lawyer, I could go off on the subject of so-called experts. Especially people who finagle the system to appoint themselves as such. But I digress.) I'll also focus on the quality of the writing, as opposed to the accuracy of the information (a topic which, as a librarian, I could also write a book about).
With respect to publishing, the article notes: "In a world where everyone makes content, publishing is no longer able to lay claim to being the 'best' maker of quality content in their field. In fact, content creation is [sic] costly and painful though this may be, may not result in measurably better content than content curation. Mixing creation and curation is essential for survival. Check out Huffington Post for a mix of created, curated, and crowd-sourced content."
Okay, maybe the notion that publishers could "lay claim to being the 'best' maker of quality content" was a bit specious to begin with. In any case, publishers have always chosen the content that writers create. The notion of curation is nothing new in that sense. The difference is that now content is widely (and often freely) available. Increasingly, if anyone gets to choose what's the "best" content, it's the people who read it.
What's interesting is the paragraph starts with a notion I find a bit specious and morphs into something I might even agree with.
In a sense, this represents a loss to some people who feel someone with a depth of editorial experience should be making decisions about what's available. However, in another sense, it represents the possibility that good quality content can be distributed and noticed without a formal stamp of approval.
This lowers the threshold for writers who are good at putting out the work and allows readers to render judgment about the quality.
Does all this mean that content is no longer king? Hardly. If anything, creating good content is even more imperative. How will the curation decisions be made otherwise? (Check the article's comments. I think the point is raised there, too.)
And though (for good or ill) effective promotion and marketing play an essential role, haven't they always? Surely, the cream of the writing crop haven't always gotten their due in terms of notice and success. This was true even back in the day, before print-on-demand technology, the Internet and ebooks lowered the bar for entry into publishing.
So, while we may be drinking content from the proverbial fire hose, I have to think that people will notice if the waters are tainted. I think readers can decide whether the content is champagne or vinegar.
If content is no longer king, I'd say it's been promoted to emperor.