A couple of weeks ago in the Sunday New York Times there was an article in the Style section titled On the Tip of Creative Tongues, with the above artwork attached.  The theme of the article was how many things now are curated.  They gave as examples:  merchandise, entertainment, food stands.  The word used in the past might have been edited.

But now, among designers, disc jockeys, club promoters, bloggers and thrift-store owners, curate is code for “I have a discerning eye and great taste.”

At Alacra, and especially for our recently released Alacra Pulse product suite, we’re all about curation.  I often remark that when starting Alacra (Data Downlink) we had a chicken and egg problem: it was hard to license content without having customers and it was hard to get customers without having content.  So we would license whatever content we could, until we reached critical mass or a tipping point, where publishers started calling me rather than me having to call them.  (It took years.)  Now we’re pretty selective with regard to what content we add to the Alacra data warehouse.

For Alacra Pulse, where we’re trying to filter the real-time business web for our customers, the selection or curation of our sources is critical.  Since we believe “you can’t boil the ocean” (read everything) choosing what feeds to read programmatically is vitally important if we’re going to deliver the most relevant information to our customers.  We spend a significant amount of resources maintaining the list of feeds we read for Alacra Pulse.  We have curators around the world.

Keeping track of the mainstream media sources is relatively straightforward.  It’s new and alternative media sources that are much harder to find and maintain.  For example:

  • All the bloggers at Forrester Research
  • All sell-side analysts who set up their own shops and have RSS feeds
  • Trade publications, by region by industry

And, while gathering the hard-to-find stuff is a big part of the curation process, keeping out information from sources that do not meet our standards for credibility is equally important.

In a recent blog post, Craig Newmark (founder of Craig’s List) wrote:

Trust is the new black, as I like to say. The great opportunity for news organizations is to constructively demonstrate trustworthy reporting, and to visibly do so.  News curation, that is, selecting what’s news and should be visible, that’s an equally big deal.

Alacra Pulse is doing exactly what Craig suggest – finding and presenting reliable, trustworthy sources of business news.