I Love Curation, Hate Aggregation

My pal Tadas captures the sprawling debate about content creators vs aggregators vs curators on his incomparable site Abnormal Returns.  I’m a big fan of curation and the curated links on AR are truly the most essential reads of the day.  They are indispensable for those of us on the lookout for perspective, intel, color and ideas.

Here’s what the Master thinks:

The cat, that is curation, was let out its bag a long time ago.  As we wrote back in November the need to curate content is ancient one that tries to make our complex world a little bit more comprehensible.

In the Internet age curation has become both easier technically, but has also become a more vital as the amount of content has exploded.  Despite the rearguard efforts of the incumbent media the world has changed for the content business.  The only seeming defense seems to be generating quality content that people are willing to pay to read, either explicitly or implicitly.

I don’t know whether or not Tadas also considers himself to be an aggregator, but I can say emphatically that he is the best curator out there, the center of the financial blogosphere.

To me, aggregation is different from curation…and by different, I mean it sucks.  It is for people who listen to Top 40 Radio and read USA Today and only get around to buying a new book when John Grisham pukes up another southern fried legal thriller.  

The typical formula for a post on an aggregation site goes something like this:

  • Hysterical Headline
  • Generic image from iStockPhoto.com.
  • Half-confused introductory sentence from someone who may or may not have finished reading the source article.
  • Blurb from source article selected seemingly at random.
  • Conclusion sentence wrapping up the premise of the source article along with a blizzard of tags and links to other such wastrel posts that may be tangentially related to this particular mound of textual debris.
  • Comment section filled with insults directed at the blogger who wrote the pointless post and some questioning of the sexual preferences of said blogger.
  • Banner ad for Zack’s Investment Research free 14-day trial.


I hate aggregation for aggregation’s sake.  I think writing a post about every single thing that happens just for the sake of page views is the most puerile part of the internet experience today.  It is the http equivalent of spam email and its becoming impossible to escape. 

And while posts referencing and excerpting great articles are essential to blogging (I do a bunch of this myself), entire sites built on that premise with very little originality are worthless, I don’t care what their SEO rank says.

Long Live Curation.  Aggregation?  Not so much.


Content vs. Aggregation vs. Curation (Abnormal Returns)

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