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by Graham Cookson
in Big Data
on 11 August 2014

Curating a world full of content

The Internet is a very noisy place, especially when it comes to news articles being produced and shared. There are so many websites and apps devoted to news updates and a wide variety of news types, that it has become increasingly difficult for consumers to keep track of everything.

Often people will look at multiple news sources to keep up to date with current affairs, which is a great practice, because then they will receive a wider range of news articles in different styles – rather than just sticking to one source. The problem is, that it has essentially become a full-time job to truly keep informed of all the news out there.

One way people have got around the mine field of news articles is to use content curation (sometimes referred to as ‘content aggregation’) services, which have become an increasingly popular method of gathering and creating content for websites – especially news sites.

Aggregating content

The process of content curation involves obtaining articles from multiple sources, removing any unnecessary information and displaying it in an easy to read manner, so that readers can go to one place to read articles based on their interests.

If you think about museums or art galleries, they all have curators – people who select items for collection, display and are often in charge of research for said items and their care while on display in a museum or gallery. Museum curators are also tasked with ensuring that any artefacts brought in are not fraudulent and are in keeping with the theme of the exhibit. Curating digital content is a similar process, just on a much wider scale and at a much faster rate.

The majority of this content curation practice involves aggregation software that pulls in articles from multiple sources and then human editors choose and curate the articles, adding their own titles and photos.

However, there has been a growing trend in recent years for fully automated content curation, where the human element is all but eliminated from the aggregation and sorting of articles. Possibly one of the most advanced and well-known news curation services is the Yahoo! News Digest (YND) app for iOS and Android devices.

The YND app uses algorithms which carry out contextual analysis and collate similar stories together, which are then amalgamated and condensed to deliver short, concise news articles. So essentially, rather than having a mess of news articles cluttering up a page, or just one long article with multiple sources, the YND app is able to work out what parts of the article from each source are relevant and makes the story its own. It also adds in elements referred to as ‘atoms’ which are essentially visually engaging pieces of imagery, such as maps, photos and graphs, to break up the story and make it quicker to read and take in.

The app updates in the morning and at night, the idea being that it ‘simulates’ reading a morning and evening newspaper and that you don’t need to constantly keep reading news sites all day - because all the news will be there for you to see.

However, the downside of YND, compared to some other curation services, is that the news is not delivered in real time, which can be a problem for some people – especially those in businesses that rely on breaking news.

Knowledge is power

The benefit of receiving news in real-time is obvious, it allows readers to stay up to date on breaking news and, in terms of business decisions, it gives them the edge over others who may only look at news once or twice a day.

But content aggregation isn’t just about receiving news as it breaks, it’s also about receiving news that is pertinent to the reader’s needs.

During the process of curating information, a lot of unwanted content is filtered out - meaning that the overall flow of information is reduced, ensuring that it is all targeted to the end user’s interests.

The main advantage here is that it allows the user to accelerate the process of discovering relevant material, which is especially crucial for businesses that process large amounts of information.

When you couple this targeted content with real-time updates, it makes for a powerful tool that is vital to a lot of businesses these days.

And, just like the aggregation process, filtering information so it can be curated, even digitally, is far from a new idea – the chances are you will have experienced a form of filtering when visiting an everyday website.

Websites such as YouTube and Amazon filter results that you see on their homepages by basing results on your prior activity on those sites. Many other sites will suggested articles based on semantics – where content is broken up according to topic, subtopic and category. And then you have content filtered based on user ratings, where the system finds people with similar interests to the end user and filters recommendations based on their activity – this is often used in social media sites, such as Facebook.

Filtering out the noise

Over the last few years, big data companies have also been adopting new methods of acquiring news and are now able to curate content in a similar manner to Yahoo! News Digest, but some companies, like Digital Contact, are to provide the information in real-time and with a more focussed approach to results.

As the technology progresses, we are likely to see more and more companies making use of content aggregation tools, simply because it makes life so much easier in the long run.

That's not to say that all content online will be made through content curation, for this form of curation to exist there still needs to be original, user-created content out there. But for companies that need to get a good idea of what is being said around a topic, or read breaking news, content curation is a great tool and method to use.

And Digital Contact intends to be at the forefront of such technology, as it rolls out its Insights Engine later this year, with Trading.co.uk being the first website to use Digital Contact's own content curation platform.

Summary

It’s an old cliché, but when it comes to gaining an advantage in the business world, knowledge is definitely power. Without knowing what is happening in the world around you, no good business can survive.

It’s especially for true for trading and investments – where the world and all its commodities can change at the drop of a hat.

By utilising a content aggregation tool or service, like Digital Contact’s Insights Engine, to fulfil your needs, business owners can stay up to date with real-time news and information that matters to them.

If you would like to download this white paper, 'Curating a world full of content', please click here for the PDF version.

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