Before you curate it, you’ve got to locate it…
Curation and learning start with knowledge discovery. Before we can filter, evaluate, structure and add value to content for our audience, we have to discover the new knowledge and content that may be relevant. No amount of skill evaluating and adding commentary can compensate for missing important new content. Knowledge discovery is the critical first stage in reinventing how organisations discover, collaborate, and share knowledge. So just find the best stuff and share it, right? Easy to say. In practice, not so easy…
Look outside to stay in front
Traditionally training has been front-loaded: you spent many years learning a trade or skill that you could apply for the next 30 or 40 years. If you worked for Henry Ford, you were trained once, and you were done for life. Times have changed, and as pointed out in this recent article from techCrunch continued learning is essential to survive. It notes that knowledge workers at AT&T were told that if they don’t invest 5-10 hours a week keeping up with change in their sector, they will make themselves obsolete.
“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”
Jack Welch, former CEO, GE
The key issue identified by Jack Welch, is the rate of change of external knowledge. What new ideas, developments, products, productivity improvements and technology are happening outside the walls of your organisation? You do not have a monopoly on new ideas. Even Google, despite recruiting the best engineers they can find, do not have a monopoly on new ideas. If all you’re doing is looking inwards to discover knowledge, you’re in an echo chamber. That’s not good for you, or your business. If you don’t keep learning, you won’t keep earning.
Benefits of external knowledge discovery
Knowledge discovery allows you to identify and filter the most relevant external content to deliver staff training, team knowledge and continued learning. By continuously sourcing and sharing external content relevant to your industry, team roles and competitors, you can raise the knowledge, skills and understanding of your team and help them capitalise on strategic opportunities. Teams can:
- Understand new ideas quickly
- Keep up on current trends
- Continuously learn and develop
- Gain competitive advantage
- Ensure you’re not missing risks, opportunities or threats
So how do we discover external knowledge? Hint: Don’t Google it
The answer for many people is Google. But while Google is an incredibly valuable resource, it’s not where you’re going to find the latest content. Google is designed to help you find authoritative content, not the latest content or ideas that may be bubbling up. Thus most new content is not found using Google but using social platforms, tools and specific sites. Social networks have become important content discovery platforms. Over a third of all traffic to major publishers comes from Facebook alone, which is primarily people visiting content their friends have shared. Social has overtaken search as they way most people get their news, according to Shareholic. On social you can use your network as a discovery army, particularly if your network includes people that are ‘resource investigators’.
I first became aware of resource investigators when looking at Belbin team roles. Belbin defined resource investigation as a key role in teams and recommended that teams included people who act as resource investigators. These are the team members who go out of the group and bring ideas, information and developments back to the team for discussion and consideration. These people tend to be outgoing, they make friends easily, are good at networking, they are curious and constantly look for new ideas and information. What makes them particularly valuable is they share these new ideas. Thus in your social networks and communities you can benefit significantly from resource investigators. Every team needs them. To use another word from Harold Jarche (and to pander to the Harry Potter fans): every team needs a seeker.
Ask a group: Community discovery platforms
There are a range of large networks and community sites that have become important discovery platforms. These include:
- Quora. If you have questions there is a good chance someone may have already asked them on Quora. You can search for all questions asked on specific topics and see the answers.
- Reddit. There is no end to the specific interest groups on Reddit where you can discover latest content and ideas.
- Twitter. The feeds from Twitter can spin faster than a hamster on a wheel so finding relevant content can be difficult. Twitter lists can help you get more control and there are a range of tools you can use to focus on the content being shared on Twitter. For example, you can search for any topic on BuzzSumo and sort by the most shared articles on Twitter over the last week.
- LinkedIn Groups. Many of these groups have become overwhelmed by marketers sharing links but there are some good restricted groups where people share interesting content.
- Pinterest. If you are an interior designer after ideas for small gardens or kitchens or more or less anything then Pinterest is a great discovery platform. Users curate content on specific topics.
Get Automated: Knowledge Discovery tools
Knowing that you need to curate relevant content from a number of sources is one thing, but finding time to identify the most relevant content on an ongoing basis is a major challenge. Ideally you want to discover knowledge every day without spending hours upon hours digging through different sites. You could easily spend 20 minutes every morning checking Quora, Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn Groups and Pinterest for relevant content for your team. But you’d burn through a lot of time, with no guarantee you’re going to find good stuff. And are you going to do that every day? Seeker fatigue will set in very fast.
You can use tools that allow you to aggregate RSS feeds so you can see new content being published by various sites. However, this only provides a small view onto the wider world. This is why at Anders Pink we crawl content published across the whole web every day and allow you to filter this by keywords. This does mean you see a very wide range of content but this is important for the curator. It’s automated, so you have a base feed of relevant content to curate from. The needs of the curator and the learner are different. A curator needs to look wider and see more content as it is their role to then filter and add context to content. For a busy learner, often less is more.
Anders Pink allows you to create discovery criteria and filter all new articles being published every day. These criteria include:
- Keywords: Multiple keywords, must include words and exclude words
- Domains: Only crawl content from whitelisted domains or exclude domains
- Twitter: Crawl content shared by specified Twitter users
- Rss feeds: Crawl content from RSS feeds that matches your keywords
Thus you can for example, specify that you only want to see new content on say elearning from Reddit.com, Quora.com and LinkedIn.com plus articles shared about elearning by a dozen experts on Twitter. You no longer have to visit multiple sites. You can bring this new content into a single daily briefing.
Using a knowledge discovery tool such as Anders Pink will help you to spot and understand developments quickly. Here are some examples, latest articles on advertising trends and healthcare trends. Not only will this help you keep up with current trends, but it will help you gain a competitive advantage. With capabilities like competitive monitoring and faster contextual discovery of knowledge, gaining an advantage on your competitors is inevitable.
Next Steps: From discovery to curation
Of course knowledge discovery is just the start. You need to evaluate, add context, share and discuss new information. You also need to structure and repurpose for learning or to support learning courses. However, if you have a good process for external content discovery, and a good automated feed of content to curate from, you have a good solid foundation for your curation and learning. Curating poor quality, irrelevant or out of date content is not helpful to anyone. Give yourself the best change of curating effectively with quality sources and you’re on your way to being a curation hero.