By: Sorab Ghaswalla
Do content and knowledge mean the same thing? Is it merely a matter of semantics, or is there more to it?
Content IS knowledge (not to be mistaken for wisdom). Any piece of writing, video or advertisement, however trite, that tells you, informs you, passes on some meaning can be dubbed, “knowledge”. Content tells, informs, helps you know, but may not really make you more intelligent. It could be by way of a stand-alone weather bulletin or the televised proceedings of a parliament.
In today’s world, however, technology has taken over a major part of our lives, including content. The cold soul of technology helped along by the quintillion (million raised to the power of 5) amounts of data being produced daily, is trying to re-write the rules further defining the two - content and knowledge. These efforts are spurred on by not only content creators but also marketers, advertisers, sales and “the technology people”.
The debate on content versus knowledge can go on ad nauseam, but the purpose of this newsletter is not to arrive at a definitive answer. Instead, the focus is on a related development that started some years ago called, “Knowledge Curation”.
Content curation is its widely known cousin. But someone a few years ago popped the question, “Do all content curating efforts automatically qualify as knowledge sharing?”
How are these two different? Despite my assertion that content and knowledge mean one and the same thing, what makes knowledge curating different is the specific knowledge, intelligence, wisdom of the curator that acts as a filter.
Here’s an example: a content curation site will cull 10 weather reports of X region over A-B period from various sources in order to present a real-time weather scenario, and publish them. A knowledge curator (an ex-weatherman in this case), on the other hand, will apply his expertise on the subject-matter at hand, filter out the 5 most relevant reports from the 10, based on his experience, tag each of them, and so on, even adding content (summary or interpretation) of his own, and then publish it. Suddenly now, there’s specialization, a context, a perspective, a point of view. What started off as just individual weather reports clubbed together with a common thread begin to make even more sense to the reader. (BTW, content aggregation - the collation of similar items - continues but is losing sheen.)
Here are some of the other differences:
Content aggregation and curation run on the general rule of FOMO - fear of missing out. Knowledge curation is a conscious effort at sharing relevant content
Content curation is more, always more. Knowledge curation, on the other hand, is more for less
In data analytics terms, content curation is akin to unstructured data while knowledge curation tries to bring in a form to the same
Content curation can be done by almost anyone but knowledge curation requires a subject-matter expert
Intent is also a determiner
2020 is expected to be the year when the contours of knowledge curation will get sharper. With that, there’s also the expectation that knowledge curators, too, shall be in demand. There are other sub-disciplines of knowledge curating like learning curation (aimed at the world of formal education) and marketing curation that, too, are coming to the fore.
What’s required of knowledge curators?
To start off, competency in the chosen discipline, experience, skills of curation as well as of technology. The latter could be anything - from an AI-run curation platform to as basic a channel as social media.
Some of the other “qualifications” needed are : patience, command over language, leadership qualities, organizational skills, research abilities, and critical thinking.
A knowledge curator MUST know how to make sense of all that NOISE. Content has exploded. One study by IBM shows that every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated. On social media, just on Twitter alone, about 6,000 tweets are put out every second! Which equals to 200 billion tweets per year.
No one has the capacity to read it all. You need someone then to bring in some sense and order, someone qualified and authoritative enough to tell you what matters and what does not. That, for you, is a knowledge curator.
Image by Janeke88 from Pixabay