Content Curation

The power of human assisted curation


The importance of curation

The word curation has been said to have its roots in the Roman age – curatores were civil servants in charge of bringing aqueducts, bathhouses and sewers to the Empire. In the time between, its English etymology has evolved, but the idea of selecting and organising stuff, for the benefit of others, has relevance throughout our personal lives –whether that is someone selecting artefacts for an exhibition in a museum or a DJ finalising their set list.

In the workplace, curation primarily has a focus on digital content – documents, articles, videos – whether for training, professional development or communication initiatives to support the culture and values of an organisation. To get people to understand and make use of digital content is not just about removing barriers to access and letting people help themselves – although that may be important too – the role of curation is to guide and signpost where the best place may be to start or to continue to explore.


The problem is quantity

The problem, in a word, is quantity. There is just so much digital content relating to the workplace to consider – whether it is information and resources developed internally, elearning that has been created to train or develop people, or websites that people may go to when they need help with a problem in their job. Notwithstanding digital content may exist in many different places, in the systems that make up the digital workplace. This all adds up to digital fatigue, leaving people with a sense of frustration and reducing the likelihood they will engage with those resources in future.

In addition, the needs of the business are constantly changing – and agility is required to be responsive to those changes! Couple that with the overload of information people experience in the workplace every day, and it becomes more important than ever that whatever you are providing people with is both timely and relevant.

Workplace curation has the power to help create a signal from the noise – getting people to what they need more quickly and saving both time and money. In fact helping people find what they need when they need it’s a problem increasing in size and complexity (which was the number 1 challenge we heard during recent research to understand customer needs).


The rise of automated curation

The pace of adoption of AI technologies and the specialist areas that fall within it such as machine learning and natural language processing, is well suited to this sort of problem – automating tasks that are difficult, or time consuming, for humans. In fact, our digital consumer lives are awash with recommendations, a personalised curation of what may be of interest to us, whether AI-driven or otherwise.

In the world of curation, context is king

But the task of digital curation in the workplace is not necessarily neat and ordered in a way that technology can really be put to task. The information we hold about the content we are curating from, or the people we are creating for, may be patchy, unreliable or misinterpreted. In the world of curation, context really is king. And one area where humans may still outperform technology is in the nuances of context in the workplace. A lot of traditional learning and communications tools in the workplace were not designed for curation, whilst at 5app this has always been central to our thinking about how technology can help.


Human assisted curation – the best of both worlds

What is human assisted curation? Quite simply, it is the combination of automated curation to save time and a human curator to ensure what is ultimately being curated will meet the expectations of the audience. It’s an example of how we should view technology as a way to improve our experience in the workplace.

Human assisted curation can help ensure that what is being curated for is correct in the context of the needs of the organisation, team or individuals. This will ensure that the automated curation is given the best possible input. And once it has retrieved suggestions the human curator can provide information, directly or indirectly to help the automated curator get better over time. 

A human curator can also act as a point of quality control, something which could be important in high-risk situations where providing incorrect or misleading information could have more significant consequences.


Workplace curation…made simple

Our new intelligent curation engine, powered by the awesome team at Anders Pink, makes it quick and easy for an administrator or subject matter to curate content from any source – whether it is something created internally, licensed from a third party, or freely available on the web.

Content added to the curation engine is automatically matched to skills, saving hours of time when dealing with large libraries or inconsistent categorisation of content from different sources. A powerful search enables the curator to instantly sift through hundreds of thousands of individual content items and easily filter those based on type, length or language. Additionally, the engine can make AI-driven suggestions of content by inferring similar skills for example. 

Curation can be a team sport and you can collaborate with others to co-create or review what you have put together. A one-click process will make the final curation available immediately as a playlist in the 5app platform. 

From there our simple and elegant admin tools enable you to target the playlist for a particular group of people and easily understand how it is being engaged with, achieving in minutes something that previously would have taken hours or even days!

 If you’d like to see this in action, reach out for some time with me!

Duncan is Head of Product at 5app. Connect with him on LinkedIn or drop him an email on

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