The caveat of content curation

At last week’s Learning @ Work conference in Sydney, Clark Quinn declared:

Curation trumps creation

And this resonated with me. Why spend time, effort and money reinventing the wheel?

However I’d like to explicate his implied caveat:

…if good content is available.

There is a belief prevailing among L&D folks that all the information we need is at our fingertips. We can learn anything online. Everything is googleable.

But this is a myth.

Empty fuel gauge

Anyone who’s spent 5 minutes in an organisational setting appreciates how difficult it can be to source relevant, actionable content. If it’s not hiding in a walled garden, it’s of terrible quality or doesn’t even exist.

We’ve all scoured user manuals and discussion forums and video libraries, seeking assistance for that one specific thing we need to do, only to give up dispirited and empty handed.

Under these circumstances – when the right content can not be found – there is nothing to curate, so we have no choice but to create it.

Half empty fuel gauge

Having said that, I recognise a halfway point.

Clark observes that finding good answers is more problematic than just finding an answer. In an agile environment, it is also important to realise that an answer will be useful if it is good enough.

By way of illustration, I am currently piloting what I call a “MOOC-like” training program at my workplace. Uncertain of whether this kind of L&D will fly with my colleagues – and mindful of failing fast and cheap – I have purposefully avoided investing big in scenario production. Instead, I have found a couple of videos on YouTube that are good enough to support my minimum viable product.

If the MVP proves to be a success, I’ll scale it up and invest in producing scenarios that press all the right buttons.

In other words, I’m taking Clark’s advice to create when I have to, but only then.

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6 Comments on “The caveat of content curation”


  1. “Clark observes that finding good answers is more problematic than just finding an answer.” Couldn’t agree more Ryan. Good answers are few and far between, and sometimes it does seem easier just to create it yourself. However I like the idea of launching with a couple of YouTube vids that are ‘good enough’ to start the conversation rolling, then develop the context & application discussion afterwards, based on what you need in your workplace. Your MOOC-like experiment sounds interesting. Would love to hear how it went when you’re done.

  2. ozbecky Says:

    Well said. The wheel is good! Let’s customise it and use it! Like your “near enough is good enough” to get the “wheel” rolling! Cheers BP

  3. Ryan Tracey Says:

    Thanks Matt & Becky :)

  4. Bruno Winck Says:

    There is a bit of fad in this curation enthusiasm. For some it’s a way to gain cheap amplification, for others a way to show appreciation. I spent hours discussing with professional curators like Cendrine http://socialmediaslant.com/ and it’s really an art, not something you do at random.

    Content curation is one thing, Learning material curation is again another.-It could be raw material wrapped to add learning value, or originally designed as a learning artifact.

    I’m currently thinking with others on how to design a repo of such material, knowledge package i call them, if you are on the same travel we could share some ideas.

  5. Ryan Tracey Says:

    Indeed, Bruno, curation can be done badly!

    One of the things that I believe the curator should do is put the content into context for the target audience. Too often I see a simple link (or worse, a naked URL) without explanation of why it’s important or how it fits in.

  6. belencasado Says:

    Reblogged this on Redacción Eficaz and commented:
    Not everything is googleable and many things should be investigated more deeply than reading two blog posts.


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