Curating the Content Overload

Curating the Content Overload

If I were a venture capitalist, I’d invest in applications and companies that attack the problem of curating content.

Content used to be king. The best content attracted attention, consumption and dollars. The quality of your content determined your success.

But today, our brains are in a state of constant cognitive overload. I used to struggle to create my content network, whether I was writing a paper in school or looking for news. Now I’m overloaded with blogs, news sites, social networks and all kinds of email. My RSS reader and inbox taunt me with unprocessed information.

Likewise, now that content creation and delivery systems like Blogger, Flickr or Wordpress are free, diverse and accessible, content creators find their videos, photos, writing and ideas lost in the content sea.

The struggle to curate pervades our personal and professional lives. In our personal lives, we can’t effectively prioritize the information we need for recreation, play and enjoyment. As learning and development professionals, we have to sort through all of the content that might be worth passing on to our colleagues. And ultimately, we have to support our colleagues in curating their own personal learning environments.

How do we sort it out?

And how do we enable our colleagues to sort it out? If it were up to Mark Zuckerberg, we’d use our social networks to identify the videos, news stories and websites we want to spend our time on. If you ask Google, they would probably argue that better search algorithms - ones that get to know your preferences - will edit the Internet for you. If you ask Diigo, social bookmarking is the future.

As learning leaders in enterprise environments, we must push for the tools that strengthen our learners’ ability to curate their learning environment. On my wish list for those tools:

  • Learning platforms that enable users to tag content with keywords for easy, granular search.
  • Learning platforms that enable users to “like” or “recommend” specific pieces of content, perhaps sorted by type of colleague or learner who would benefit from it.
  • Quora or Yammer-type apps organized by profession or industry type, rather than by company. These could be supported by professional associations and connected to continuing education processes.

OpenSesame Has Your Tools for Curating eLearning Content

OpenSesame is doing its part to solve the curating challenge by making it easy for you to find elearning content and make informed purchasing decisions through granular search of features and characteristics, customer reviews and informative buyer profiles. OpenSesame enables you to search for courses with specific learning objectives, interactive features or seat time, or any combination of of features you need.  Furthermore, you can use the author profiles, customer reviews and course previews to quickly focus on the courses that meet your learning and development requirements.

OpenSesame gives you the tools to select the elearning content you need.

Photo Credit: Paul Lowry on Flickr

    2 Reviews
  • oliver starr
    oliver starr January 15, 2011

    Curation vs. Search vs. Discovery

    As you've clearly noticed, content curation as a means of making sense of information overload has recently become a very hot topic - no where more so than in Silicon Valley where this issue has of late been the subject of many discussions, blog posts, etc.

    As you so aptly noted there are a lot of approaches to solving this problem and in no small part the approach a person takes (or even more particularly) might recommend has to do with the lens through which that individual sees the Internet.

    From my perspective, as Chief Evangelist of one of the most popular and powerful social curation communities, Pearltrees ( best tool really depends upon what you are trying to do.

    Search hasn't been (and I don't think will ever be) replaced by curation, bookmarking, Q&A or any other tool, however it is rapidly becoming a different kind of resource as these other tools improve and mature.

    At present I think you can break these issues down somewhat as follows:

    Search (Google, mainly) is becoming most useful for finding something very specific - a single link on a narrow topic or a particular resource - likely something you already know exists and you simply want to find that link quickly.

    At the other end of the spectrum is discovery - you aren't looking for something specific and may just be idly looking for something cool, funny, interesting, etc. For this I think things like Twitter, Stumbleupon, and even Facebook are one of your best means of making great finds.

    Between these two sits curation (at least the sort of curation that we think of when we talk about things like a well curated museum exhibit). Curation tools straddle the two previous areas in that you may already have a topic that you find interesting but for which you aren't looking for something very specific. Maybe you want a deep dive into a topic that has your attention?

    It's here that tools that allow curation and sharing of content really shine. That's because they do something the other tools don't do (at least not very well) - they harness the power of people and more specifically people that have already spent considerable time and energy studying a topic and then sorting through the vast amount of material on that topic to identify the very best available resources.

    Let me give you an example of how this plays out in the real world. Take WikiLeaks for example. A Google search on WikiLeaks yields: 63,000,000 results ( this is not useful. Unless you know exactly what it is about WikiLeaks you want to find you could spend an unreasonable amount of time opening pages that don't deliver the sought after result.

    If you select just one topic: Internet and filter the results Stumbleupon gives you with one term "WikiLeaks" you get this (at least I did) as my first result:

    but look at my second "stumble":

    This may be interesting, but certainly not if I'm only after material on WikiLeaks.

    Now look at what happens when you use a Social Curation Platform like Pearltrees:

    If you were to choose the top ranked result (the one featured in the dead center of the display) you'd get this:

    Take a look. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive resource in any reasonable amount of time.

    The other interesting aspect of a collaborative approach to curation is that tools like Pearltrees allow people to spontaneously "Team-up" to work together to help take their domain expertise and create lasting (archival) resources that are both personally useful as well as potentially globally beneficial.

    Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg and as I said above there is no single best tool - only tools that are best for a given person and for a given use. However as the field of curation matures I think you'll see that it begins to cut an ever widening slice of pie out of the areas that have largely been dominated by search and casual discovery.

  • Kelly Meeker
    Kelly Meeker February 22, 2011

    Thanks so much for your detailed comment!

    And for the hard thinking you're putting into curating the content overload. It looks like a great tool.