Case study on how collective curation informs strategic decisions

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Content curation is powerful for several endeavours – particularly to make better informed strategic decisions. Other objectives include visibility and education.

Decision making is hard!

We all know that taking decisions is hard: there are always uncertainties. Decisions cannot be purely rational or based on information because they are about projecting into a future. And that future hasn’t happened yet. This means that information can never be exhaustive. As a result, we need judgement, creativity and concertation when making decisions.

Collaborate on content

However, making decisions without information would be a disaster. Both judgement and creativity need food for thought. In teams, arguing for or against a decision requires arguments. Decent projections require a good understanding of what is happening around, and further afield. So, any way we look at it, good decision making processes require good information.

Content curation for decision making

In a fast-changing world, good information comes from regular monitoring of news, both of strong and weak signals. Markets disruptions can come from new entrants, from other countries, or from social evolutions. Technologies permanently evolve and affect all areas of work and life. Regulations evolve. Our world is in a constant state of flux.

Fortunately, competitive companies understand that. Now, we have a new case study explaining how such a company, a major food industry player in Canada, is using Cronycle to make better informed strategic decisions. Collective curation helps them build a global and shared perspective over external evolutions, empowers the different organizational units and, ultimately, builds synergies and collaboration.

While collective content curation increases a company’s competitive advantage, it also helps individual contributors remain up-to-date with what’s happening in the world, outside their corporation. This outward facing curiosity and awareness keeps individuals and teams agile.

Other key use cases

Beyond decision making, the other two main purposes of content curation we see from our customers are:

Visibility

This communications-oriented content curation aims to improve SEO (getting through the search engines algorithms) and thought leadership (bringing valuable content to people). It serves a variety of goals, such as brand awareness and image, attracting customers or recruits, etc. Indeed, many of our customers use Cronycle for this reason, in particular when using our WordPress plugin and sharing from Cronycle to social media.

Education

We also have customers, such as Taylor & Francis (case study here), who specialize in professional content curation for knowledge capturing and publishing. Others use it for more traditional educational purpose, with educators sharing course references with pupils (and vice versa). In both cases, the collaboration on our platform makes it particularly adapted to this kind of purpose.

While this list is not exhaustive, these three goals (decision making, visibility and education) are key reasons that bring people to the exciting world of content curation. Learn more about what Cronycle does here.

Could 2018 be year we make technological education into something better?

Reading Time: 2 minutesIt always seemed odd that we didn’t do IT at my secondary school after year 7 (the first year). We had a rudimentary play around with PhotoShop, made mindmaps and mock web pages – and then it abruptly ceased. The assumption was that we’d pick up the computer skills which we needed along the way.

On the surface, that was largely true: I don’t think that our class was disadvantaged as netizens by the lack of an IT course. And, from glancing at a syllabus for GCSE ICT, we probably didn’t miss out on much: questions about whether text is left or right justified, or knowing the name to a USB, is of limited value (and not just because everything’s on the Cloud now).

But ICT teaching is increasingly more than just about learning the parts of a machine, or even learning to code. Understanding computers and the internet is more than just an academic or abstract skill: it’s practically key to citizenship, and understanding our rights (and how best to safeguard them).

We live in an eminently teachable era for this too: with the onset of GDPR, in just a matter of months, raising a generation to understand the importance of personal privacy is key. Rather than waiting for pupils to be faced with the most unpleasant examples of abuses of trust (in the form of revenge porn), good technological education can directly inculcate wariness about over-sharing online.

The same goes for more complex issues, like algorithms. Granted, Facebook may no longer be the hippest space for youth culture, but its dominance can’t be ignored; nor, in spite of its inability to turn a profit, can Twitter’s. Both of these spaces have algorithms with deeply questionable biases, which allow for the creation of echo chambers – and for deeply unhealthy scrolling habits. A good education wouldn’t tell students not to use these platforms (that would only enhance their counter-cultural appeal): it would instead encourage critical thinking, from an early age. Ignoring the political cycle of defeated parties trying to reach out and become more like their opponents, there is a possibility of avoiding the cognitive dissonance which seems to mark modern politics.

The boons wouldn’t just be for students as consumers – encouraging a better respect for privacy and ethics when it comes to data would also support the companies they might work for or use in the future. Privacy by design is a good idea – in practice. In reality, our current education system rarely prioritises this thinking except in academia or research firms. Having students grappling with these major issues from school could offer a workforce fully committed to the values of good security.

Computing is difficult to understand; the internet is even more so – but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore them, or treat them like a sort of black box, which is inexplicable. By crafting ICT programmes to not merely get across code, but show the power structures and politics behind digital life, we can offer something as valuable as teaching hard sciences, or the humanities, or citizenship – if not more so.

Unequal Web Access isn’t the ‘Third World’s’ Problem

Reading Time: 2 minutesConsidering the many rights which we routinely see trampled upon in the news today, making the case of access to the internet seems a little frivolous. After all, this the era when millenials are pilloried for avocado toast on Instagram, whilst we’re told by a succession of psychologists and journalists that smartphones are destroying the kiddywinks (an idea that, for the record, is less sound than the moral panic behind it would suggest). Sherry Turkle, one of the great pioneers of ethnography online, has become one of the most vocal critics of the digital and its much vaunted murder of conversation/friendship and so on. Amongst her arguments are that by choosing to disconnect from Facebook and the rest of the usual suspects, we can achieve a higher quality of living.

There’s an assumption here that we’re all equally free to log off or ‘jack out’, to use the old cyberpunk expression – that we live in Turkle’s world of digital dualism, in which you and the cursor on the screen are separable. It rather ignores those whose livelihoods rest upon the connection to the internet: think of an Uber driver deciding to up and disconnect one day. Offline me-time – even if it were better than online me-time – is just not a possibility for many. But perhaps even more distressing is the failure to account for those unable to access the internet – not for playing Angry Birds with neighbours or posting holiday snaps, but for the very real reason of accessing work and the resources for self-betterment.

The image of the internet desert, when its mentioned, is usually in the context of the great undifferentiated ‘Global South’. Think of the massive swathes of rural India, where internet penetration still remains very patchy. And yet in Britain and America, these deserts are shockingly prevalent. Nearly 20 million Americans are locked out of broadband, according to a Motherboard piece from a few months ago: equivalent to nearly a third of the British population. Most of them are also in rural areas, worsening the understandable perception that urban elites don’t really care about the country. And in the UK, the same scenario is played out, albeit on a necessarily smaller scale.

The opportunity to participate in a global tech boom, engage in e-commerce and e-payments, or to even just receive the news about events going on outside of a small community are all undeniably valuable parts of the internet – and the opportunity remains unrealised for so many in the ‘developed world’. The US National Broadband Map (which ran until 2014) paints a sobering picture of this reality: outside of major metropolises, large parts of America remain caught in a largely pre-digital era.

And that maps with work done on news deserts, spaces where local (print) papers, unable to scrape together money from advertisers or from subscriptions, have simply had to close down. Some have been bought out by conglomerates like Gannett, a few have banded together at a local level, but many have already died out (and many more are likely to do so). For rural communities losing the traditional lifeline to news in the form of the small town paper, the failure of broadband providers to support them seems a double-whammy. For a populace to be well-educated on complex political issues, it will take more than platitudes and hand-wringing from urban centres.