Photo credit: "The Dark Knight Rises," Warner Bros.
Nerds and geeks know the feeling well. You know, you're heading to a party, and you know when you get there that you're not going to know what to say. I mean as the President of Geek Central, you know a little about a whole lot. It's not as if you don't have suitable topics to talk about. It's just that you know that once you start talking about them, you're going to sound like an entry from Encyclopedia Britannica. Major party foul.
About Cocktails, Conversation-Starters, and Content Curation
Content curation is a bit like that it seems to me. (Parties are as well for the record.) I have a lot of topics I'm interested in and could even write and talk about. But for the longest time, knowing how to distill them into understandable chunks of information has been elusive.
I mean, until recently, I really couldn't see why anyone would be interested in information that I was just "passing on."
Thankfully, this week's assignment in EdTech 543 dealt with content curation. For me, it has been a little like getting the little black book of conversation starters that won't fail at parties.
"You know when you're talking about Batman? Yeah. Talk about Batman as an orphan archetype."
"Maybe you should explore PTSD by talking about book or comic characters that could have it like Katniss Everdeen from 'The Hunger Games.'"
Otherwise, you're just passing on the phone book or encyclopedia.
I Want Just the Facts, Ma'am...
This seems a bit counter-intuitive to a former journalist. Journalists aren't really supposed to have an opinion - at least not a discernible one. Rather, the closer we can get to giving both sides a say - an equal say at that - the better. It's considered a compliment when people say they can't guess what political affiliation we have example.
But it turns out that maybe that's not what your audience wants. Instead, these days your audience wants your two-cents worth as my dad used to say. In other words, give your given topic a context. You don't just post a link without saying why.
Part of the problem that I had with this was that I thought that I was to create all new original content. It isn't that this is a bad idea. It's just that it's also okay to contextualize the work of other authors, too.
One of the side benefits as I discovered - aside from the fact that I now have an excuse to look for content about writing and other topics that I'm passionate about on a daily basis - is that I actually come into contact with topics that I love from sources I might not look at otherwise.
And as much as I am loathe to admit it, some writers can encapsulate some ideas better than I can. At least some of the time. Once I looked at content curation through this lens, it made a lot more sense.
Creating Content Curation Parameters
In our EdTech 543 class, we were given some parameters for this assignment. These not only gave us a list of resources to use for own content creation platform - I went with Scoop.It - but also the whys of curating content. The parameters additionally asked us -myself and the women in my group, Mary Carter and Alanna Shaw - to create our own best practices list for choosing content to curate.
First for the "whys" of curating content, at least from my point of view:
My thoughts on on the "why" of curation were largely influenced by Corinne Weisgerber's and Shannan Butler's Slideshare.net presentations (Butler, et al) as well as my own experience in marketing and SEO writing for the past decade.
I found working in a group on this to be a useful and positive experience. Normally, I'm not a big fan of group work, being a writer I tend to be pretty solitary for the most part. However, the ladies in my group turned out to be very talented and had a lot of insights into how to create a good curation list.
As a whole, I felt that we worked well with the materials given to us. The process also helped me clarify my own thinking about curating content, because I had to see it through their eyes. This was especially true if something I liked didn't make sense or needed refining. They proved to be valuable allies in the process.
As for the list of best practices for curating content - at least according to us - you might find it useful to take a look at this graphic that our group created for the assignment:
The final thing I'd like to add is that I've decided that content curation is a good way to augment my blogging efforts. Although Scoop.It helps you find a list of articles, blog posts, videos, etc. about your topic of choice, you also have the option of adding your own link choices to the mix.
Because of this, I not only made some of my blog posts part of the "main event" so to speak, but also I linked to it in some of the posts by other authors if it was related. It presented me with a cool way to expose people to my blog without seeming pushy.
Here's my first attempts at using Scoop.It:
Finally, for those who want to create their own list of best practices for content curation or to learn how to do it, you might find this slideshow helpful. It was created by Corinne Weisgerber, Ph.D. and Shannan Butler, Ph.D. at St. Edward's University:
Truly, this particular unit has been useful in a way I didn't expect. Sometimes when you're learning to build a presence online, you don't know what you don't know. I must admit that content creation for me was one of those topics.
Glad to be caught up now and ready to converse at the digital party.
Butler, S., & Weisgerber, C. (n.d.). Re-envisioning modern pedagogy: Educators as curators. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/corinnew/reenvisioning-modern-pedagogy-educators-as-curators-11879841?ref=http://edtech.mrooms.org/mod/page/view.php?id=94340
Weisgerber, C. (n.d.). Building thought leadership in an age of curation. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/corinnew/building-thought-leadership-through-content-curation?ref=http://edtech.mrooms.org/mod/page/view.php?id=94340
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