Curation As An Emerging Skillset | A 5 Step Guide

5 step curation skillset plan

How to become a curation king / queen.

Traditionally, a curator researches and puts together a collection which speaks to a narrative and / or serves a larger idea in art galleries and / or museums.

In the current digital habitat, all can participate in this activity, so the challenge is honing the skills and leveraging the tools. Why?

Because for you and the organisation / company you serve, curation will be at the forefront of:

  • developing new ideas;
  • broadening discussions;
  • navigating and sifting through information to concentrate it into action;
  • celebrating those in specific industries; plus
  • uncovering / creating / deepening relationships to those that matter.


Here we go:

1. Find : Track other digital curators to emulate / learn from.

Follow / learn from Tina or Jason or Maria or Shaun or the Open Culture peeps etc—rather just serving individual tastes, these guys are also aiming to inspire, educate, challenge, explode wonder, intrigue, curiosity, in their audience.

2. Find : Deliberately forage content from many sources.

Online is a noisy place and it’s not simple to find the signal. For many of us with the tools such as advanced search techniques plus RSS it’s a simple case of making the web work for you. RSS allows for a filtering on a delicious scale which when mashed up with things like IFTTT and Yahoo Pipes can become the perfect recipe for making yourself look double awesome.

3. Follow : Click those inspirational digital breadcrumbs.

Be careful not to get stuck in the filter bubble—sites like Tumblr and Pinterest exemplify curating platforms plus once you start clicking you will discover how deep the rabbit hole goes. Don’t worry too much and just click away, flow around areas of interest, follow those links and see where those web-roads take you. You’ll be astonished with the gems you’ll find.

4. Focus : Sharpen the sights and cull the chaff to find the good stuff.

Now you’ve been using the above tools / techniques for a while it’s time to sort and strain. It might be you’ll decide to stop following certain feeds and replace them with ones who serve more specific content. It should always be a trial and error process in pursuit of revelatory inspiration.

5. Frame : Context is king so reposition & tell stories with the new found ideas.

The best curators (some listed above) contextualise the treasures found by weaving a narrative around. This adds the much needed context for the audience and yourself when you return years later plus demonstrates your ability to join ideas into salient points. It’s time to shape the reason and link the work to creative action (whether that be an infographic, white space in an established industry, applying divergent technologies into traditional approaches, learning from obscure voices from other sectors to influence innovative strategies etc). Wrap those finds up in beautiful potential.

So examples of where this can be applied:

  • students can be taught the above as a research methodology for their studies;
  • product designers can utilise these steps to gain a deeper picture of the problem / industry their serving;
  • teachers can employ these techniques as a way to collate content related to their subject focus;
  • start-ups can use these tools to aggregate ideas around the market they are entering;
  • leaders can illustrate brand stories in which they would like to emulate.

…you get the idea!

Follow the plan and basically suck the juicy wisdom out of the web then humanise it for good.

How relevant is curation in your role / organisation? And who else is talking about this as a skillset (am keen to learn / connect)? Riff in the comments!

Related / inspired / remixed from original post 2013 | Create / Curate plus all images from Graphics Fuel


  1. I’ve just begun to notice the attention that curation is getting. It makes sense with so much content being released it seems to me that it will be nearly impossible to keep creating original content. So why not filter for the best of the best and put together librarys of related ‘super content’? I like your 5 step approach and the infographic. Thanks for the post.

    1. Appreciate you taking the time to read and thanks for the kind words sir. The challenge has always been on creating original content, although now most folks have the tools and distribution methods we are still not exploring our own ‘voices’. And we definitely need more of that :-)

  2. Thanks for this DK. In the 1st term this year I am working with 2 other teachers on a module based all around curation as a skillset. We are getting the students to curate the museum of themselves. We will be investigating the various artefacts that can represent us – passions, spiritual, physical and digital artefacts etc. – then visiting some museums and galleries before the students then start creating their own museum to exhibit at the end of the term. The students are definitely going to be introduced to the ideas in this post!

    1. What a wonderfully delicious challenge to set the students – let us know how they get on and the results of the ‘museums’ :-)

  3. Great advice DK! I especially agree with point no 4. It’s very easy to settle into a routine of reading and sharing from the same content sources. Mixing it up regularly can open your eyes to some powerful new ideas – and great content to share with your network!

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