This month alone, we’ve identified more than eight separate conferences we’d like to attend during the next eight weeks. The wealth of provided information would be a fantastic update of our current wisdom and beliefs!
But, there’s just this one problem. Okay, there are six problems.
- Many of them occur at the same time.
- Most of them are in different locations.
- We don’t even want to know the full price tag for the ones that say things like “Register early and save $600…”
- Only about a third of the content at any conference will be reachable during its live presentation, so let’s see, that’s how many dollars per live presentation?
- The best use of the content would be with other people — especially when we got back. But for most of the conferences, it would have to be a solo trip, or maybe just one other person coming along, and it isn’t clear if non-attendees can use the content unless we find a way to distribute it appropriately ourselves.
SO, we’re thinking, do we have a LOT of urgency about making it to these conferences? Hmmm… not so much. They definitely would have to be offering something that we can’t get anywhere else, at least for which there is no reasonable alternative.
It’s 2015, and the chance that there is no reasonable alternative gets slimmer and slimmer.
To some extent, we get to dump the airport because we have Google, Bing, and other tools to do the “travelling” for us. If we know what the topic and problem is that we are studying, then there is a near certainty that valuable relevant content is going to pop up in our search results.
Meanwhile, the conference has an agenda; but we have eXie and the frame of reference approach.
So instead of booking premium digs in the time/space continuum, we can look for a “return” on a different “investment”.
- Search the web for topical content (and don’t be surprised how often conference speakers have released their ideas already on the web)
- Save the search results in a logical way for future reference
- Add and save findings conveniently at our own pace
- Include multiple sources of content on any given idea
- Work without any restrictions on the timing of our next chance to access any stored topic
In fact, in this approach, we have one main challenge: curating what we found. Whether we are researching topics as different as air travel and how a company is making personnel decisions, the first thing that we will encounter is the vast array of content suppliers, formats and styles that are already available to us – not to mention quality.
Our biggest tradeoff, in getting the advantage of this approach, is the time and effort we will spend on curating instead of on travel, expense reports, and catching up with the work we couldn’t get done while we were away. What we want is the confidence that the content is worth tracking because the time we spend curating it cost us less than the benefit we’ll get from re-using it.
Beneficial re-use is the essence of Reference Material. By focusing on whether re-using an item of content is likely to be valuable, selecting it is less difficult to decide.
By making an eXie frame with that in mind, the content is found in the future according to what it says about how a subject should be considered and why it should be considered that way. A frame can be designed as simply as deciding a few ideas that are important about (within) a subject, along with a reason why each of those ideas is important. Those become the criteria for curating. The important ideas are frame columns (themes); each row is about something that makes the ideas important (topics).
In that design there is no limitation on how many items of content can be found and selected to add to the curated collection – but every selected item is clearly relevant in an obvious and practical way. Being practical, it will “pay off”, each time it is used.
As a result of keeping the curated content in the same location for future access, we replace the conference (only available under a few limited circumstances of time and place) with a living, evolving knowledge-base (always on, always available).