Mish Mash“‘Information overload’ has become an increasingly common complaint,” wrote Mashable founder Pete Cashmore last December. “In the attention economy, with its millions of daily status updates and billions of Web pages vying for our time, how do we best allocate that scarce resource?” In his CNN column where these words first appeared, Cashmore was predicting the top Web trends for 2010.

With an abundance of content creators across the Web, there is a growing need for content curators. These are not to be confused with scraper blogs, or even the legitimate automated aggregators such as The Huffington Post or Google News. Content curation relies on actual human judgement and selection to assemble the best and most relevant reading for a particular audience.

“Curation comes up when search stops working,” said NYU professor Clay Shirky. “Curation comes up when people realize that it isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community.” Content creation can be a service for readers with a particular topic of interest, but it can also be a service to the content creators because it can help them increase their audience.

Automattic, the company behind blogging platform WordPress, launched a new site about a month ago called FoodPress. The niche content aggregator is compiled by a food blogger named Jane Maynard, who handpicks her targets “by scouring food-related tag pages like food, recipes, baking, cocktails, and more.”

FoodPress is updated each weekday to include excerpts and links to what Maynard deems the best food-related posts, photos, and recipes on WordPress blogs. (The site only focuses on WordPress.com-hosted blogs for now, although it may include self-hosted WordPress sites — i.e., where the software is installed on the blogger’s own server — in the future.) The company’s only foray into content curation so far has been Freshly Pressed, a feature on the WordPress’ homepage. It’s a collection of featured blog posts handpicked by Joy Victory, WordPress’ Editorial Czar.

FoodPress LogoFoodPress is still in beta testing, so Automattic won’t release traffic stats yet. Automattic has already partnered with Federated Media, however, whose services include securing advertising and other sponsorship deals for blogs. FoodPress advertisers so far have included Swanson and Lindt.

Christina Warren, an Internet media reporter for Mashable, writes, “As a potential vertical and monetization strategy, FoodPress is pretty interesting. WordPress.com is able to leverage content in its networks, sell ads on that content (well, ads on those excerpts) and drive more pageviews to WordPress.com as a whole.”

As with the concept of content curation in general, there has been some negative feedback to FoodPress. Some of the questions raised include whether advertising dollars will be shared with the original content creators, and whether or not bloggers can opt out of being featured since they don’t submit themselves for consideration in the first place. For the most part, however, response to the newly launched FoodPress has been receptive. Lois Beckett of Nieman Journalism Lab writes:

If the FoodPress model takes off, it could be the beginning of a series of WordPress content verticals covering different topics. WordPress.com currently hosts more than 15.1 million blogs, and when the FoodPress launch was announced, excited WordPress commenters were already asking for additional themed pages on subjects like art, restaurants, and beer.

You can also find FoodPress on Twitter (@foodpressed) and Facebook.

Source: “Welcome to FoodPress!,” FoodPress, 10/19/10
Source: “Introducing FoodPress,” Just Another WordPress Weblog, 11/01/10
Source: “10 Web trends to watch in 2010,” CNN Tech, 12/03/09
Source: “Why Content Curation Is Here to Stay,” Mashable, 05/03/10
Source: “With its new food blog, WordPress gets into the content-curation game,” Nieman Journalism Lab, 11/22/10
Source: “WordPress.com Launches Food Blog Aggregator,” Mashable, 11/01/10
Image by aprilandrandy, used under its Creative Commons license.
FoodPress logo used under Fair Use: Reporting.

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