Leadership / Management | Technology & Social Media

Curation — not content — is king in the information age


I nuked my Outlook inbox the other day.

I didn't mean to. It was 7:45 a.m. and I was barely awake. I permanently delete e-mails all the time, so I didn't think twice when the "Are you sure that you want to permanently delete the selected item(s)?" message popped up on my screen. As my right index finger clicked "Yes," I noticed that all of the items in my inbox were selected.

"Oh, shoot," I said. Only I didn't say "shoot," if you know what I mean.

In retrospect, it was a pretty radical way of dealing with information overload. There's too much stuff flying at us these days, isn't there? E-mail, articles, headlines, white papers, links, blog posts, podcasts, videos, photos -- who can keep up with it all?

Deleting it all isn't an option (although I have to admit, looking at that empty inbox was perversely satisfying). We need some of that information, after all -- just not all of it.

Our problem, in the words of Clay Shirky, isn't information overload; it's filter failure. We need better filters that will give us the information we need and let us ignore the rest.

Welcome to the age of content curators.

Steven Rosenbaum calls content curators "the new superheros of the web," and with good reason: They keep us from drowning in the tsunami of information that hits us day after day.

In his April 28 DigitalNow keynote, Rosenbaum -- founder of Magnify.net and renowned contributor to Forbes and the Huffington Post -- cited this stat from Google CEO Eric Schmidt: From the dawn of time to 2003, the human race created five exobytes of data. Today, we create that much data every two days.

There's opportunity in that flood of information, though, and it goes way beyond mere content creation: If we can identify and deliver the really important stuff to our clients, we'll be irreplaceable.

"Authority is no longer bestowed to content creators," Rosenbaum said. "Curators are today's trusted authorities."

But how do you become that trusted authority?

Simple, says Rosenbaum: Have a voice. Don't just regurgitate information. Provide context. Offer a point a view. Tell your clients why this is important. Do that over and over, and you'll become indispensable.

By extension, if we don't give our clients that clarity and context, they'll find someone else who does.

"If our (clients) were transported to a desert island and they had to choose one source of information, would they choose us?" Rosenbaum asked.

If you're afraid of the answer, your path is clear. Curate. Clarify. Provide context.

The alternative might be extinction.

Want to learn more?
Watch Rosenbaum's DigitalNow keynote in its entirety here. (Scroll down to "Saturday General Session" and click on "Play Session.") Free registration is required.

Then, check out my interview with Rosenbaum before his DigitalNow keynote. He offered a few insights that conference attendees didn't hear. Listen to the interview in its entirety.


Bill Sheridan