By Stephen Walsh, passionate about content, curation, learning, technology and startups. He’s spent over 20 years in learning and technology, co-founding 3 businesses including most recently Anders Pink, a new content curation tool to help professional teams stay smart. He regularly blogs on content curation, news and tech. Image from pixabay here.
Curation means continuously filtering content from multiple sources to stay smart. Here’s why that matters.
What is content curation?
Here’s a good start from Rohit Bhargava:
“A content curator is someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content on a specific issue online. The most important component of this job is the word continually.”
So curation means:
- Finding the best content from multiple sources, usually external content
- Filtering it so only the most relevant content makes it through
- Adding value to that content with commentary, context or organisation
- Sharing it with the right audiences, at the right time, in the right places
Why does it matter? Here are three reasons we should all be curators – especially in tech.
- Your skills have a shelf life: If you want to keep earning, keep curating and learning.
If you worked for AT&T 30 years ago, life was sweet. You were working for the company that once owned the patent for the telephone. How cutting edge can you get?
Flash forward to today. AT&T are fighting to survive. What happened? In simple terms, they didn’t keep pace with change. They stopped learning. They got Ubered (or in their case, Googled, iPhoned and Amazoned).
They’re not alone. Companies are only as smart as their employees.
- The average shelf life of a business competency has dropped from 30 years in 1984 to 5 years in 2014
- 89% of the companies on the Fortune 500 list in 1955 were not on the list by 2014
- In the next 10 years, 40% of all S&P 500 companies will disappear from the list
Ask yourself: are your skills and knowledge more valuable today than 6 months ago?
Our skills have a shelf life. No matter what training or expertise we’ve gained, we’re becoming less relevant every day if we’re not keeping pace with change.
Curation helps by building a habit scanning, consuming and sharing relevant content. As Albert Einstein said “once we stop learning, we start dying. And a good 21st century addition might be: “If you stop learning, you’ll stop earning”.
2. We’re not alone – We learn faster when we curate as a team
If you were working on your own to curate content to stay smart, it’d be an endless and lonely task. But we’re not alone. We operate in teams. And teams are much better at filtering and curating external content than individuals acting alone, because teams have Collective Intelligence. MIT has found that collective intelligence is a good indicator of potential team performance and is a far better indicator of success than any individual’s performance.
Curation helps teams outperform by providing relevant content which the team can act on through:
The best teams leverage their collective intelligence through actively sharing knowledge. Trying to stay updated as an individual is hard. There is simply so much content in the world. However, a team can leverage its members to scan and research the environment and share information.
Team discussion and collective understanding
Sharing on its own is not enough. A team discussion enables individuals to share views, ideas and attitudes when focusing on issues together which produces a collective understanding. Behavioural Psychologist Jens Krause calls it “Swarm Intelligence”: people gather information independently, curate and share it in social interactions, and use it to solve cognitive problems. In swarm intelligence, “because people act collectively, they can consider more factors, come up with more solutions, and make better decisions.”
So how smart is your team?
- How regularly does your team scan the outside world for new information and insights?
- How much social sharing and curation takes place in your team?
- Are there team discussions to build collective understanding?
3. Filter Failure and Fake News: We need to Control with Curation
If curation was as easy as spending 10 minutes a day checking a few blogs and Twitter posts and immediately finding relevant content, we’d all do it. But it’s not that easy.
- The Washington Post publishes 1,200 articles a day (yes, a day)
- Over 3 million new blog posts are published a day
- The amount of content on the web is expected to increase by 500% in the next 5 years.
- Google indexed 1 trillion articles in 2007. Today it has indexed over 30 trillion.
- Google “Big Data” and you’ll get 267 million articles.
We are in an era of what Mark Schaefer calls “Content Shock”, where the rate of new content produced significantly outstrips our capacity to absorb it. If we measure intelligence as the percent of the world’s content we’ve read and understood, then we’re all waking up dumber than we went to bed.
NYU Professor Clay Shirky calls this “Filter Failure”. In his view, it’s not about too much information – it’s too much of the wrong information. Anyone can publish anything, and we’re letting too much of the wrong stuff in. Hello, fake news.
Effective curation tools help you filter the web to only see relevant content to your interests. For example in Anders Pink you can filter by specific sites, RSS feeds ,Twitter users and topics to see just what you want.. Curation tools update regularly to give you a more controlled feed of information. Here’s a daily briefing on Future Tech for example.
Take control of your content, save time and keep yourself, your team and your broader audiences up to date through content curation. It’s one way to fight filter failure and fake news, and stay smarter in the process.