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Finding the Information You Need Quickly, Reliably and Cost-Effectively

Someone raised the question on Quora a month ago:  Would most users rather have content delivered to them based on interests or by their social connections?  Then Arnold Waldstein started a Conversational Rant a few days ago on his blog, pointing out that he would like to “parse my world by conversations, by topic, by trusted connections daily.” Then Romain Goday of Darwin Ecosystem laid out five different approaches to content curation:

  1. Expert approach: curators
  2. Crowd approach: popularity
  3. User behavior approach: personalization
  4. Relationship approach: social graph
  5. Patterns approach: emergence

We all agree there is so much information available today that we need new methods (or new combinations of methods) to quickly, reliably and cost-effectively find the information we need. It’s a critical problem, compounded by the multiplicity of separate communities where information is shared, voted on, and reviewed. We are left with an uneasy feeling: what are we missing? That’s why we need content curation, a filter that helps us find what we want quickly, reliably and cost-effectively.

Finding the right filtering method can be complex. Some observations based on the foregoing sources and my own research:

  • What we want to do will determine which filters are acceptable.  For instance, if we want to assess raw information about “what’s going on” in order to draw our own conclusions about what’s coming next, filters subvert our efforts. Alternatively, if we want to know a good restaurant in town, we’ll seek the filter of connections whose restaurant recommendations we trust.
  • How quickly we want the answers will also shape the relevant filters. Crowd sourcing, for example, takes time.
  • The importance of comprehensive results also matters. If we need full confidence that no stone is left unturned, we won’t rely only on trusted connections. As Alex Clemmer noted on Quora, “It is inevitable that most of the interesting content in the world is discovered by people you don’t know.”
  • Why we want the information matters. At work, the priority may be to stay up to date on what the boss looks at each day or the activity stream related to a particular project.

Factors such as trust and the need for serendipitous information also play a role in the filters that best meet our needs.

So what does this mean for selection of the right content curation platform for your business? Here are three principles to consider.  First, curators who understand the context you need in your curation are essential because machines don’t have the discernment needed. The curators must be equipped with technologically sophisticated tools that make their work quick, easy, and reliably executed.  Second, even the best curators won’t be spot on for all users all the time.  Users must be able to select which parts of the curated content will be delivered to them. Faceted search, a robust taxonomy, and optional use of additional filters (e.g., popularity, recommendations of trusted connections) enable the precision needed in this selection. Third, ongoing discovery of new sources must be a priority because topics evolve, new experts emerge and sources change their emphasis. What other principles are relevant?



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