Why do you curate? The 3 intents of curation and how they create value


I was recently in Rome for 24 hours to run a workshop for the senior technology executives of a global Fortune 50 company. While I was in town I was keen to try to catch up with collaboration and new media expert Robin Good, who I have known online for many years but never met, so I got in touch to see if we could catch up.

Fortunately he was available, and he took the opportunity to do a video interview with me. He has excerpted part of the interview in a great post Curation – A View from The Future: Ross Dawson, which includes 4 brief videos of me sharing my thoughts on curation.

Here is the fourth video in which I talk about the 3 intents of curation.

Here are the 3 intents, presented in reverse order from the video.

The First Intent of Curation is to get attention.
It seems most discussions of curation today are implicitly about objectives of attracting attention, becoming visible, and demonstrating expertise. It is hard work to create content, but today simply by curating other people’s content you can build a powerful social media profile.

This attitude is entirely valid, but it only represents the first layer of value from curation.

The Second Intent of Curation is to develop your expertise.
I have been blogging for almost 10 years now, and it has been immensely valuable to me in many ways. Perhaps the greatest value has been in helping me to develop my own expertise on the topics I write about. Whenever I write a blog post I have to structure my thoughts, do research, and check my facts in order to create something I am happy to share.

It is not only possible but commonplace today for content curators to not read in depth what they share, but simply to find links that seem interesting and will reflect well on them. The intent of developing expertise from curation creates a very different approach, in uncovering, reflecting, and developing personal insights. In this case the curation stream that other people see is almost a by-product of the intent of developing expertise. The curators are primarily seeking to develop their expertise rather than show it off, though it becomes evident in what they share.

The Third Intent of Curation is to contribute to others.
My personal frame on this is helping to bring the networks to life, or contributing to the birth of the global brain. In essence we share the things that we think others will find valuable or interest primarily for others’ benefit. While the intent may be simply to provide things of value to an immediate personal network, this act also creates value on a far broader scale. Well considered curation is at the heart of creating collective intelligence, it is a way of contributing to all of us.

However, having a primary intent of contributing to others is in fact probably the best possible way to achieve personal objectives. As I often note:

If you help to bring the networks to life… you will create success for yourself.

So what is your intent from curation?