Human Element Still Needed
If, as Deshpande feels, curation frees authors from the need to pump their writings full of Google-happy keywords, does that mean editors are also disposable? For Odden, curation brings a lot to the table-curation tools, he says, "are powerful and essential for social content sourcing and creation," and he adds that "curation is also very useful for surfacing real-time trends and the appearance of topics across multiple media, channels and platforms"-but a proper substitute for a real live editor isn't necessarily one of them.
"A human curator definitely brings the skills needed for modern content editing, but obviously, there's more to editing than sourcing, annotating and promoting content," Odden says. "Storytelling and connecting brand narrative along with creative execution is increasingly important for the corporate editorial function. Those are skills not always present with curators."
As VanPuersem sees it, curators can only do so much. The human side of editing can never be duplicated. "If you try to completely automate the system-using tools to create aggregations-you only provide a very limited service to readers," VanPuersem says. "The human element-the skill of filtering, the skill of reshaping, highlighting what's most important, dumping the stuff that no one needs to see and gathering into the right context-this will not be replaced by tools."
Indeed, it seems it's a matter of editors being refined, not replaced.
"The ‘new editors' are simply people with the same skills they've always had," VanPuersem says, "except they add this one: they're getting better at using tools to find the best, most sought-after information out there."
While curation is indeed changing some aspects of creation, it's not replacing the original news curators-editors. There will always be a need for a human touch in curating, and in an age where machines are replacing humans all the time, that's bound to be comforting.