PART II of FIVE EASY PIECES: Making Meaning Out of Experience #curation #journalism #media #marketing #ThinkState
[This is the second post following Part I: On Curation, Content as Experience & Federated Systems]
Curation is not just about content, but what content is within the context of experience (big difference).
Now that we can debate value frameworks, why collaborate? Why is curation an active, adaptive skillset, not mere passive aggregation?
Content isn’t really created per se, it is repurposed or reorganized through story (information), but how exciting or engaging that is depends on the experience(s) we ascribe to it.
No ideas are original (other than the Big Bang or Creationism... maybe), but stories can be – particularly in how we tell them. The way we tell them provides new context for things we observe in everyday life. We must consider the transitive elements. Will we, can we, say what we do? Can we actually do what we say? What results are truly measurable in the world around us?
Perhaps we just need to put our tentacles out into physical spaces where people are convening.
From a marketing perspective, this is a daunting proposition (agency models, for the most part, don’t and can’t support this) but there are plenty of examples where this works: Charmin’s installation in Times Square, Dove’s Real Beauty meet-ups, Amex OPEN’s kiosks and HP’s innovation installations are all proving that content is an experience of real meaning and “shareability”.
The model, or better described as a framework, looks something like this:
A meta narrative construct spawns extensions whereby people are inspired to create their own media based on themes or topics related to these initiatives (this enters the space of transmedia storytelling, detailed in Part V).
Each of the initiatives mentioned applied an underlying theme or topic that resonated with people in their daily lives. Charmin offered the meaning of comfort. Dove broke down cultural mores around beauty. Amex redefined financial independence. HP branded collaborative innovation.
The answers (based on action and measurability) lie within what we expect of our current media environments and online networks. That is, once we can determine what we’re willing to do to liberate them. A major part of that effort resides in improving our networks and the data they can produce.
The reality of our closed, privatized networks (they can never be, and will never be, “open” in and of themselves).
Big Data has become a big race to somehow mash up and attribute behaviors across networks that are shackled by their own undoing: they don’t actually own our data. We do.
(Big Data... Big Government... Big Money... A recipe for Big Failure. But I digress...)
While organizations intend to create a layer of transparency and authenticity, fact is that our media systems are broken; content is utterly fragmented. Sure, there are workarounds (providing media strategy day jobs for thousands) but the band-aids are stretched to breaking-point. Social networks – while clearly spiking in their usage – are also suffering from a severe lack of filtration; the white noise filling those spaces has become more deafening.
While there’s undoubtedly a [r]evolution going on here — a communications and community-building renaissance, if you will — we must also remind ourselves that the Age of Push is over: we can no longer manipulate people into saying or doing what we want them to. And talking to them with more frequency, or shoving digestible bits of content down their throats won’t win friends either.
People are willing to talk. We need to just listen. And listen for greater lengths of time. Relationships take time. Stories take time to tell.
A macro example is the evolution of investigative journalism.
What was once a discipline of diligence and time-intensive unearthing, is now a fast-track to the quickest, meatiest, salacious rind of news we can find... Syndicated and obliterated across the media landscape.
Sounds like blogging, doesn’t it?
And what about journalism as a core discipline? We’re awash with opinions and very little fact, larded with data that doesn’t really tell us much of anything. And we have an archaic marketing paradigm looming in the shadows, predicated on bumping quantity of quarterly sales, not quality of relationship.
Perhaps it’s time we went back to the basics, and allowed technology to do its part which is to filter and nurture transitive qualities, such as emotion. Best practice demands sourcing operate on multiple levels.
Example: A corporate malfeasance story requires not only context around the interrelations of the alleged co-conspirators, but also a dynamic understanding of "the theatre of events". (Conspiracy is a notoriously difficult offense to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, hence its usefulness as working example.)
The KGB and MOSSAD operate on the principle of "circles of affection and affiliation" (no political affiliations or insinuations here, just making a point).
All individuals are vetted against known metadata about their known circle: a kind of Venn diagram is produced and overlapping relationships plotted out to establish source "usefulness."
Usefulness is a relative pragmatic valuation comprising (but not limited to):
1/ known connections to other known subjects of interest
2/ known value systems
3/ known vulnerabilities
4/ veracity (relative and absolute)
5/ access to desired target materials
6/ access to other known subjects of interest
7/ domains of common interest (eg: technical competence/s; information flows; financial responsibilities)
It is not difficult to build technologies around these precepts; what is difficult is the inclination to exploit them (and without getting into divergent territory, part of the WikiLeaks debate).
So let’s take an easier route on the topic of exploitation: the role of marketing.
The New Business of Marketing: To Better Understand Business.
We can just as easily apply the constructs of good, investigative journalism to suggest or even recommend all the reasons why we shouldn’t put out most of the communications we do.
Why is it that every time a trend emerges or some behavioral shift occurs, we automatically assume it’s fresh license to market?
Why do we think that whatever we say as brands, because we’ve heard or know a few things, is a new opportunity to pound people with more stuff, and in real-time?
Why does of any of this stuff matter?
Because we’re not just selling products anymore. We’re curating experiences. And we can’t just manufacture those.
The late, great David Ogilvy said it himself: “We’re not selling mattresses, we’re selling a good night’s sleep.”
It seems that the real issue we face is one of patience. God forbid that in a day and age where the exponential pace of technology keeps us racing for the next best thing, we would actually have to sit down and think about what we are doing or wanting to say.
Granted, companies still operate with short executive tethers and highly unrealistic windows for “proving success”, but we haven’t even scratched the surface of our potential because we’re too busy marketing, instead of listening and curating.
In this sense, curation can mean the method by which we prepare for conversation, rather than always wanting to conduct or moderate it. As brands, we can’t possibly have something to say at all times. In fact most times, we don’t. The bigger problem lies in what’s behind what we say – what it is we actually do before and after we manufacture products or render services.
And that has everything to do managing scarcity in the transition to a collaborative marketplace. More on that in Part III.
The following illustrations manifested by Gavin Keech represent the infocology of how content develops as a fluid experience, as well as what the variables for an experience might look like. These will be posted within each of the next three pieces to hopefully provide and gather more context; the last piece will actually walk us through what an interface experience might look like, with an emphasis on how purchasing and social value can align.
First, is the infocology of content as a fluid experience. While you can identify a pentagram shape within the design, do not be alarmed ;) Our intention is to build technologies around or representative of these flowcycles.
Here are the precepts, or experiential drivers, for content interface variables. Please note that these are explorations, frameworks if you will, that address content dynamics, but do not intend to identify all of them (as dynamics constantly change).
Clearly, this stuff is dense – we know this – but we want you to engage with us in a discourse around these recursive elements. We live in a world of complex systems; embracing complexity is the bridge to intelligence discovery, and of course, an approach for curating meaningful experiences.