I have a serious case of DCSD (Digital Content Stress Disorder).
I fear that the web is not making me smarter. It’s distressing my synapses and dumbing me down. Not because the content is junk but because there is too much good stuff. Amazing material at my finger tips – TED talks, zeitgeisty blogs, beautiful pins and seriously meaty journal articles.
Like a kid on a post-party sugar high, I’m over-stimulated, feral and I need to have a nap.
Last week I wanted to learn more about ethnography. Since I write instructions for ethnographers and other qualitative researchers, I need to keep tabs on current practices and emerging trends.
Here’s what happened:
Like all good explorers I started out with idealistic intentions—to chart new territory and bring back useful knowledge. But like James Cook, and his philandering in Tahiti, I ended up in a narcissistic haze on LinkedIn (wow, who are these people checking my profile and endorsing me for skills I didn’t know I had?)
So, how do you gather content in a meaningful way? How do you keep focus? How do you venture out on the wild web and bring back the intellectual goods?
I think it was Marshall McLuhan* who famously said “the medium is the message“. Even though he came up with this idea in 1964 – it still resonates with me and my curatorial woes.
The web, as a hyperlinked social medium, encourages us to move seemlessly between very different types of content—which is liberating in one way and downright confusing in another. There’s too much noise, too much variance in credibility, and too many distractions even for the best multi-tasker.
Maybe a curation map would keep me on course (enough with the buccaneer analogies already). It could look something like this:
For each content platform, I could timebox my activities and maybe even align them with my physical location:
- Serious academic articles at my desktop – 4hrs
- Blogs at the cafe with coffee (or when in-laws visit) – 1 hr
- Twitter on the couch or in bed – 1 hr
- Podcasts while running or bathing – 1hr
- Pinterest on Sundays with breakfast – 1hr
- LinkedIn at the end of the day – 1hr
Then, how do I process and make productive use of all the interesting issues, predictions, advice and points of view that I stumble across in a single web session? Maybe I need to stop and take stock—write some notes and put my own spin on what I’m finding.
Am I going over the top? Am I’m becoming a content control freak? Are you?
Maybe I should just relax, let the words wash over me and simply sail by the stars.