The great challenge of the Internet is coping with information overload.
Never in human experience has so much information been available so effortlessly. The phones we carry in our pockets and purses are actually mini-computers with processing power that mainframe engineers of earlier generations could only dream of.
They link us to a web containing more than 125 million active sites and more than 25 billion pages of information. Meanwhile, companies are becoming publishers, offering their own branded content directly to consumers.
“The joy of the Internet is also its downfall: There’s too much stuff,” says Tim Brunelle, president of the Minneapolis marketing agency Hello Viking. “The fire hose is always on.”
Brunelle’s agency has incubated a spinoff business, Curation Station, that aims to help companies and agencies manage the torrent of information.
Curation Station has created a cloud service that helps clients filter information and then use it for either internal reporting or commercial purposes. Priced at $99 a month, Curation Station to date has attracted clients that include 3M, Children’s Hospital of Minnesota, Nature Valley and Marshalls.
“We are aggregating tweets, photos, blog posts, videos — then putting together specific [curation] tools to make one master tool,” he said.
Some clients are using the tool to leverage Facebook content, which is a challenging proposition, according to Curation Station partner Jennifer Iwanicki. For example, discount retailer Marshalls lets Facebook fans share their shopping finds on its site via a Curation Station tool.
“Facebook is a walled garden,” Iwanicki noted. “It’s very difficult to get content out of Facebook, but we found a way.”
Remember when RSS feeds came into use as a way to keep up with the news? It was only a matter of months before people were complaining that their RSS inboxes were too full to keep up with.
A device meant to manage the flow of information had itself become part of the problem. Curation Station partner Joseph Rueter said the tool is designed to avoid that.
“Curation celebrates constraints,” he said. “We’ve taken the notion that you have to pay attention to everything that’s said about you, and turned it on its head.
“You only have to pay attention to the most important areas. And we help you choose those.”