Curation, education, and Robin Good

It’s Saturday night. I have Ramblin’ Jack Eliot on the stereo in the studio here at Internet Time Lab. I figured I’d surf the net on my new computer, a simple iMac 23 incher I plan to use as my main writing machine.

For $60, I picked up a Logitech wireless solar-powered keyboard to go with it. The feel is the best of any keyboard I can remember and I’ve fingered hundreds of typewriters, mainframe consoles, and personal computers over the last fifty years. This Logitech is great. If you use a keyboard a lot, get one.

By the way, all my desks and computers are for standing at, not sitting by. Sitting all day is not good for you. When the reporters at my 100th birthday celebration ask me to what I attribute my long live, I’m going to tell them it was refusing to sit down during the day.

Lab computer, standing Lab computer, standing

This evening I’d figured on hopping from popular posts to Boing Boing to friends’ recent stuff, with a peak in at the twitterflow, the usual fidgeting that one does in hopes of serendipitously getting that occasional rush courtesy of the unpredictable gods of the internet. The net’s getting smarter and more surprising by the day.

Roma by motorbike

The first URL I opened was a presentation by Robin Good on Content Curation and Education that Robin had shared at Emerge2012. (Photo of Robin’s native Roma above.)

Poof. My Saturday evening disappeared. Robin’s presentation is on Mindomo, a Prezi-like tool that lets a curator put together a path through videos, links, and text headlines. You navigate your way through the content the curator/presenter has set up for you. It feels like walking by the expert’s desk and seeing all the major lessons on her desktop waiting for you to scoop them up. And you can linger as long as you wish.

I didn’t expect to stay longer than a few minutes. Just last month, I’d put together an elaborate set of scenarios that describe how people will learn in the workplace/world in 2020, so I was up on all the MOOC/EdX/new venture stuff. As an early true believer in performance support, I’ve always favored organizing information so people can benefit from it. I’ve talked with curation gurus. I didn’t think there was much for me to learn about curation that I didn’t already know.

Two hours later…

Robin nails it. Now I understand the scope and importance of curation. This is performance support for knowledge acquisition. This is… No, I’m not going to be a spoiler and recount what Robin covers. I don’t want to cheat you out 0f the experience of wandering through his collected wisdom at your own pace. Believe me, it’s what you want to know. On multiple levels. From the big picture to the names of the tools to use. If you’re interested in education, yours and the rest of the world’s, you’ll figure out why this is important.

Robin will convince you that education and curation are joined at the hip. If you are involved in education, I assure you that you’ll learn a lot from traipsing through this presentation. Or archive. Or collection. WANDER THROUGH THIS!

(DISCLAIMER) Robin is a dear friend. We’ve talked in Berkeley; I have lived through the back-of-Robin’s-scooter trip through the sites of Roma. I have followed Robin online for years. He had curation down before anyone else had thought about it. He has an amazing grasp of what people want in the world and the best way to shape it to get through to them. He brokers wisdom. I love the guy.

A few years ago, I cajoled Robin into making a presentation at the online LearnTrends conference I was running with George Siemens and Tony Karrer. From Rome, he led us to a MindMeister mind map with a few entries and asked us to start filling it in. Technically, this was a high-wire act; we could easily have crashed. Robin was fearless, his enthusiasm bubbling over. He exhorted us all to come to the shared online map. At one point, I think ten of us were making entries on the map in real time; the screen looked like ants were crawling around on it. Robin not only gave us a presentation, he got us to learn by taking part in a practical demonstration. That map has evolved into a treasured online resource on collaborative software.

This recent presentation goes further and is in the same spirit. In Mindomo, you can wander along at your own pace. Sidetrips for videos or slide presentations are optional. There’s a lot to explore. As you’re wandering along, feeling somewhat in control, you may find yourself vacuuming up information at high bandwidth. I went into a flow state, paying attention to nothing else but the ah-ha’s! and the unfolding knowledge, all nicely laid out so a visitor is comfortable with the context. The walk through Mindomo is entirely self-paced. I stopped every now and then to scratch my head or grab a screen shot to reflect on later. Just as with our practicing collaboration in a presentation about collaboration for LearnTrends, Robin’s current presentation elegantly explains curation with an excellent example of well-curated content.

How does Robin come up with these brilliant play-with-in-a-play experiences? I think it’s in his blood. Robin’s father was an art photographer. One evening Robin and I ran to a basilica to escape the rain. On the high ceilings were paintings by Caravaggio. Decades earlier, his father had perched on his back on high scaffolds to take pictures of these very paintings. His photographs remain the best documentation of this art that we have. His father curated visuals; Robin curates multimedia.

Curation is a fine teacher. Everyone should learn to curate — and share their interpretation of the world. We’re all in this together. I’ve been ruminating about what people really need in their learning toolkit to be self-sufficient, effective, turned-on learners. I may write a book on it. Every independent learner needs these “pull skills.” Building and maintaining one’s collection and personal gallery would teach a lot of skills and also yield a wonderful learning record/scrapbook/diary/album. A good curator would not put up with the continual revisiting and forgetting that haunts the poor curator. What I wouldn’t give for a massive wiki of all the rules of thumb and information I’ve let slip through my fingers!

I’m in the midst of shifting my focus from learning to well-being. (They’re both aspects of Working Smarter, so it’s not too big of a stretch.) Robin’s presentation rattled my cage about the importance of curation; I need to establish the hub for discussions of well-being in business. Yesterday I received an email from Dick Webster encouraging me to set up an annotated bibliography and publish reviews and how-to information. He’s on the same page as Robin. I intend to go over every aspect of my curation. I want to liberate and share the world’s best thinking about well-being.

(Robin, we have to talk.)