The Value Of Skilled Curation

Like many words in business today, curation is over-used and abused. Everyone’s big on curating everything they’re interested in and inspired by, often over sharing information. Anyone can look like an expert by pulling together creative and unique items from others. Yet the more content that’s being shared the more of a challenge it is to discern what is actually valuable. Editing, organizing and curating content is key for a number of reasons. You need to trust the source, be efficient with time, and practical with value. I wanted to take a deeper look at curation, so I spoke to one of our collaborative partners, expert curator, trend hunter and connector of information Jody Turner from Culture of Future.

Jody is highly adept when it comes to engaging with others, collecting, sharing, and igniting ideas and trends. In Jody’s line of work, curation is the backbone of her business and vital to her success. Trend research and analysis require a continuously updated collection of curated global content within a wide range of categories to allow for the hypothesis and predictions of future trends.

Everyone’s lives, loves, interests, and behaviors are on display for the world to see through social media 24/7. People are often overwhelmed and stressed due to the massive amounts of information they’re getting, and despite the many tools and techniques available, many haven’t learned to edit or curate the information or the people they are engaged with.

Expert Curation Is Imperative In Business

Understanding what people admire, collect, share, talk about, desire, and think about has always been imperative for companies to remain relevant. Defining when shifts and changes occur helps us understand the rationale behind the changes, what effects they have over time, and what and where we should focus our efforts in the future. Jody defines this as “emotional sense-mapping,” a process of collecting and curating stories, experiences, and examples that lead to relevant connection, relationship building, and opportunity strategies.

Where Curation Is Making A Difference In Business

Curated brilliance can be found at Nike. Jody worked in the Design Library there, where she learned trend and business curation from a brilliant Trend Thinker and Design Librarian who scoured the globe for inspiration—everything from biomimicry to robots. It was here that she quickly realized that inspiration is an animal that must continuously be fed to successfully fuel innovation. Nike is an educated company that knows design matters but also knows that connection, engagement, and storytelling is equally important for its continued success. Nike+ FuelBand, NikeiD, and Nike Better World are great examples of meaningful design that are relevant and curated for personal and social effect.

Another company successfully embracing curation is Anthropologie which has brilliantly currated a mix of flea market wander-and-find methodology with modern design sensibilities. The pay off has been huge with a revenue stream of $244 million in 2011.

Kickstarter is a successful and unique curation engine, enabling submitted ideas to be funded by various donors all over the world. The power-of-the-people voting mechanism rewards the project with the most support and attention with the necessary funding. Kickstarter enabled Scott Wilson’s TikTok watch to become highly successful.

Whole Foods lives up to its mission statement appealing to their shoppers’ emotional needs. Everything is highly touchable, comfortable, and the curation flow is imperfect and mismatched, democratized, and welcoming.

The Social Impact Of Curated Content

This year Jody was voted in to SXSW Interactive where a carefully curated group of speakers and content was collated based on a combination of algorithmic patterning, crowd voting, and top-down influencer selections. The content delivered by the speakers became even more valuable as fresh input and creative points of view from the crowd were voted on. SXSW interactive shows us how a mix of curated content from different sides of the fence can drive powerful experiences and learning.

Jody recently shared several examples of change-making projects. An aspiring trend hunter from Ghana was so inspired by Jody’s well-curated content that he and his partners created the mobile app to provide agro-industry content to farmers, increasing productivity and income. She also heard a speaker from the Milan Poly Institute of Technology share a site which he uses daily to share changes in the social innovation space that are inspiring change in communities across the globe. Jody is currently writing a blog on the US phenomenon for Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Some Uncommon Sense Advice On Curation

It is important for people to know what matters to them, their project, and their business. Once you define your own mission or your project’s driving mission, all of the information that comes to you makes much more sense and may even light it up as it flows in.

Jody believes it’s important to know how trend hunters capture newly coined phrases and narratives, identifying macro-trends, big picture business initiatives, and emotional landscapes that are then shared globally. Her favorites for trend hunting are out of NYC and out of London.

Jody lives lightly and mobile, curating ideas of desire versus objects of desire. When she indulges she loves to collect simple, humble objects both modern and historic. These items could be from her speaking travels, museums she’s associated with, designers she’s associated with or her parents’ life (late ‘40s Kyoto). How it all works together is important to her and that resolve keeps her curation mindset satisfied.

Photo: NCinDC

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