Content curation 101: Everything you need to know

By DJ Waldow

6 minute read

In 2016, Michael Bhaskar published arguably the most comprehensive — yet digestible — book on curation.Curation: The power of selection in a world of excess

In the Amazon description of Curation: The power of selection in a world of excess, Bhaskar defines curation as “the art of selecting useful information to form meaningful collections.”

The book description continues, “curation is a far more powerful and deeply relevant idea than we give it credit for” and promises to share “how a little-used word from the world of museums became a crucial business strategy for the 21st century.”

Finally, “curation is one of the most gripping and unignorable business ideas for our time, and organisations and individuals who make the most of it will position themselves to grow.”

At Filtered, we could not agree more with that bold claim about curation.

This article will lean in on the power of content curation, starting with a more comprehensive look into the history of curation. We’ll then dive into the advantages & disadvantages of content curation, discuss why content curation is important for Learning and Development (L&D) teams, and share some content curation models and templates (and strategies).

But first …

A (brief) history of curation 

A manager or overseer.

The guardian of a child.

A person who prepares a sports ground for use.

Those are 3 definitions of curation from the United States, Scotland, and Australia & New Zealand, respectively.

All fair. But when I think about the term curate, I think of a museum curator — a person who helps “artists bring their ideas to life” as Natalie Bell, the curator at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, said in a recent HBR conversation.

But curation is quite a broad term.

For this article, we are going to focus on content curation: “the process of gathering information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest, usually with the intention of adding value through the process of selecting, organizing, and looking after the items in a collection or exhibition” (Wikipedia).

But even that definition is decently generic and all-encompassing.

According to Google Trends, searches for the term “content curation” started showing up in about 2009. They peaked in January 2012 and again in September 2014 and have held relatively steady ever since.

Why the flatline? 

We speculate that content curation became even more nuanced: automated content curation, algorithmic content curation, and content curation in search and social media.

Over the years, we’ve seen content curation just about everywhere: personal branding and marketing efforts via email newsletters (see Benedict Evans with his 170k+ list and Substack who “makes it simple for a writer to start an email newsletter that makes money from subscriptions”), TikTok, Instagram, and so on.

Every media has its own nuances.

And then there is content curation specific to Learning & Development (L&D) departments and Learning Experience Platforms (LXPs). This is the kind of specific, intentional content curation we focus on at Filtered.

And this is the type of content curation we are going to cover over the next few minutes.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of content curation

Rarely in business (or life, for that matter), is something ALL GOOD or ALL BAD. There are almost always pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages. Content curation is no exception.

Let’s start with the not-so-good:

You still have to do the work: Truly great work still has to be created. It’s not like you can wave a wand and all the content just suddenly appears. The (deliberate, intentional) work has to be done!

There is ambiguous copyright status: How do you define “copying?” Copy/paste? Copy/paste/modify? How much “copying” is too much?

It can be risky: Every piece of content you curate is suddenly tied to your name/brand/organisation. It becomes something you are — for good or bad — associated with.

It’s time-consuming: While not as time-intensive as actually creating the content, current still takes time — there’s still a lot of new stuff published!

But there is good news too: 

Interesting results, fast: A solid content curation tool will return (often interesting, hopefully highly-relevant) content quickly. 

Leverage the people and the brands others trust: Good content curation takes advantage of trusted subject matter experts and beloved brands as their source of quality content. You can even dial up your content curation to get more of the brands and humans you like and trust.

High quality is prioritised: Speaking of quality, content curation algorithms should surface and serve up the best of the best content.

For learning, you can focus on context rather than content: When it comes to content curation, context matters. “Content can not be king without context.”

Back to the “bad news” for a second ….

We’d argue each of the 4 “cons” can be viewed as positives or opportunities. So let’s revisit each one briefly:

You still have to do the work: “Doing the work” is good! Taking the time, putting in the effort. Being deliberate and intentional — that’s how good content gets created.

There is ambiguous copyright status: This is 100% true, but keeping copyright status in mind as you create content will force you to be dialled in and truly focused on creating the best of the best content.

It can be risky: Of course! Most of the exceptional things in business (and life) involve some risk. It’s okay. You’ll be okay.

It’s time-consuming: Again, “doing the work” means it will take some time. But we promise you that you need to put in the hours to get the best content curation.

We do all of this because content curation is essential, especially for Learning and Development (L&D) teams.

Why is content curation important for L&D

There is no shortage of digital content.

Depending on who you ask, the explosion of data produced daily is, well, exponential.

According to Raconteur and this incredible “A Day in Data infographic,” 463 exabytes of data will be generated each day by people as of 2025.

So yeah. A lot of content.

In the L&D space, we continue to see massive growth in the number of requests for content as it relates to skills, specifically upskilling. So much so that we often can’t respond fast enough to business changes. 

The amount of content created daily combined with the increasing demand has made the perfect storm for content curation in learning, hence the emergence of LXPs, AndersPink, Filtered, etc.

As we wrote here, “Some of the most impactful content experiences – great books, movies, and documentaries – result from a painstaking curation process. Like Mark Twain said, ‘There is no such thing as a new idea.’ Great authors read a lot, assess the zeitgeist, identify their position and mix it with existing takes to create something new. Great creations rest on curation.”

The last sentence is worth repeating: Great creations rest on curation.

The good news is that curation enables higher impact learning. 

At Filtered, we see “flipped curation” as a more efficient way to get to higher impact learning design. Flipped curation puts technology-enabled curation at the front of the design process.

    • Curate the best resources on a topic first.
    • Tailor the most relevant content by adding context.
    • Finishes with a focused takeaway.

For more details on flipped curation, read this article.

This Havard Business Review article details the importance of learning pathways, specifically that “good pathway design comprises thoughtful structuring and sourcing.”

First, take the time to understand and build out the optimal structure for your learning pathway. Only then can you add content. A few things to consider as you are adding content: 

  • Offer various format types to keep learners engaged.
  • Ensure content is fresh and recent (though there are always exceptions for evergreen classics).
  • Mix up providers for a more diverse viewpoint and to protect against biases.
  • Lean on short-form content, but don’t ignore cornerstone, longer pieces.

All of the above sound good in theory, but how is it actually done in real life?

learn to curate CTA

Content curation models and templates (and strategies)

When thinking about content curation models/templates/strategies, it’s important to break them down into individual and organisational ones.

INDIVIDUAL

If you are looking to current your own content for your own learning growth and development, here are a few strategies we recommend:

  1. First, subscribe to a few essential newsletters and sources. This will help build up your library of relevant and exciting content.
  2. Keep track of what you curate in Pocket or a similar bookmarking/content clipping service.
  3. Regularly reshare what you curate — publicly via LinkedIn or other social channels and privately through a company Slack channel.
  4. Adopt a schema for adding context: who benefits from this, why, what are the key takeaways, and so on.

Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

ORGANISATIONAL

When it comes to organisational strategies, remember that when you go from one (individual) to many (organisation), content curation gets much, much harder. Think more than one cook in the kitchen. Whatever you do, do NOT underestimate this fact.

Be sure to adopt consistent definitions of what “good” looks like. Then, your corporate quality barometer can be determined by asking a set of questions with yes or no answers and scoring samples of items from a provider (or individual items) against that rubric. 

In practice, these questions can include, but are not limited to:

  • Is this content suitable?
  • Is it visually appealing? (and enjoyable and succinct (good value per word)?
  • Is what we are curating novel, and/or authoritative, and/or persuasive?
  • Have you considered the structure and the publish date?

Creating a process model is critical so content doesn’t go stale, and your team can easily (and quickly) adapt to change. 

In addition to the four questions above, here are a few other criteria to evaluate the quality of a learning asset, which we detailed here. Each piece of content must be:

  1. Business-useful (applicable in real business)
  2. Evidenced
  3. Original
  4. Independent: no in-content agenda (e.g., selling a product)
  5. Serviceable: available, mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, not full of clickbait/ads
  6. As a selection: a good mix of length and format-type

But when organisational curation for learning grows in scale, more sophisticated systems a necessary. For example, you’ll need sophisticated taxonomy tagging and quality criteria.

We strongly (albeit biasedly) recommend using our AI-powered curation engine.

There is more to the process, of course. But this is where it gets super-specific to each customer. So for a more detailed look into how our AI works, book some time with us to chat.

New call-to-action

Free learning content library benchmark
Filtered logo rotating

Get the best return on your L&D spend.