Why Get Better?
We all like to keep the content that we’re most interested in, and we put it away for later reference. So by definition, we’ve already made decisions about what is “good” or better.
However, a number of things happen that combine to make the content collection more inconvenient than helpful. For example, over time our experiences may change our reasons for keeping things, our habits for keeping them, or our ability to keep track of them as they get retrieved, reused and returned.
Additionally, almost anything carrying an interesting idea nowadays can be “digitized”. That immediately allows us to collect a hugely increased amount of content without being very selective, because there is little practical requirement to leave things out. Unfortunately, the after-effect is the haystack that later turns out to be hiding the needle you want.
1. Be strategic: group your content for yourself and for others
Having a collection of already-prepared content is better than not having one, as long as you can actually use it effectively “on demand”.
Understanding demand is easy: there is an audience for the ideas in the content, or for the style of the content’s presentation, or both. And, the first key audience is always Yourself.
Making your content available to additional users is like offering an event or a place to stay to a guest. You are the host, and you help your guest navigate the event or place to make it most comfortable and worthwhile.
2. Organize your content so that unfamiliar users can quickly feel at home
Running into great items of content often inspires us to collect it, even when we hadn’t been looking for it. For example, that’s the beauty of surfing the web. And it’s perfectly suited to entertainment.
But shopping for things that we know we’re going to need goes differently. Most often it means first looking for certain types of things; then, after we find the correct type, we look for the best example of it. This is especially true when shopping for ideas.
The basic difference between “reference” content and other material is that the reference content contains certain types of ideas that are expected to be very useful in the future. Because of that, what makes us most comfortable with a collection of reference content, whether our own collection or someone else’s, is the sense that whenever we go there we will probably find something in it that is a good enough example of the right type.
When ideas included in a collection are clearly organized by type, many different contributors can help, over time, to supply the quality improvements needed for the types made available. Their improvements can be in content that they made or that they found.
3. Arrange the content specifically for later use, not for prior use
We always have a reason for why we decided to keep something and put it away. That seems easy. Then, we rely a lot on remembering the reason. But even though memory is powerful, it is still often hard to come back later and find the content to get it back out. In effect, we become unfamiliar with our own collection…
This problem can easily occur if our future reason for using the content doesn’t match the one that made us keep it in the first place. That mismatch can occur for lots of reasons, including simply forgetting.
For organizing the arrangement of content, nothing beats using a catalog. A catalog arranges content in a way that explains why something should be used. That is, it relies on the probable future use as the key to putting something away. When we come back to it later, that reason is likely to help us find the content regardless of why we kept it in the first place.
4. Arrange the content to represent the content’s audiences
The more ways that an item of content can be effectively used, the more valuable that content is. Just like having a person with multiple talents, the same item of content can offer one thing in a certain situation, and offer something else in a different situation. Many different parties discover that the item is interesting or attractive.
In that way, versatile content has great value, But the value is predictable only if we use it appropriately. Each audience for content represents a situation that we can call a context. Ideas acquire a certain meaning “in context”. And we can arrange groups of content to emphasize how the content is relevant to that context.
This is what people get with catalogs. The catalog makes it more obvious that the provider is already thinking about their situation. Because the catalog represents the audience, it makes perfect sense that if we have different catalogs, audiences will pick the catalog that seems most relevant to themselves.
In a catalog, the groups of content makes each item of content more valuable. Different audiences can have different catalogs to the same collection.
5. Grow a reputation as a Provider
People who find good content are most likely to come back to the same place again when they want more. Their experience builds trust in the source and confidence in their own use of the content. They like to use the same stores, the same channels, and the same brokers or agents, to help make getting things fast and easy with low risk of a disappointment.
The best way to become the trusted source of good content is to be a good curator. A good curator is selective about not just the content, but about the audience to be addressed. Users trust the provider to keep them connected to the best content. Basically, that is what a publisher intends to do.
To act as curators, we take the steps to be knowledgeable about what is most relevant to our chosen audience; and we take the further steps to provide only the best examples of content for each type of idea included in the catalog. In effect, for the right audience, a content provider’s catalog is a portfolio of the provider’s collection.
6. Make what you already have, better
It’s safe to say that, more and more, any content collection is both digitized and likely to be kept online. Those are two great practical improvements over the past. Because things easily get copied, modified and moved all the time, better content is more likely to become available somehow to whoever demands it.
But those changes can also have the effect of “letting all the cats loose in the yard”… That makes it more important for providers to proactively communicate where the provider’s preferred versions of content are going to be accessible.
Then, any time the provider’s preferences match the audience’s there is something worth protecting. So we want to not just save content, but we really want to manage it, just like we manage money instead of only spending it and putting it away.
If you are a content Provider, your catalogs become the portfolios that you share with your audience and that become their preference. Your audience can also give you better feedback on what is missing or should be better, and trust you to put those improvements where they already know to look.
But, we don’t want to make and distribute a separate copy of everything for each user; that would give us an unreasonable burden as a supplier. Instead, just like with broadcasting, we want to give many users access to the same ”best” copy, wherever it is; and if the location of the item changes, we just give all users access to the same new location.
In a nutshell, eXie
When you subscribe and sign into eXie, the templates that you see and borrow or make will help you quickly get going with the eXie approach. They identify the use of key words that label and describe the type of ideas audiences seek out and the ways that the audience is interested in those ideas.
Using a simple framework that looks like a table (called a “frame”), you link the locations of online content to the type of idea and type of interest that is most relevant to the intended audience.
Drag or copy the content links to the right places in the frame to create a catalog of the content; name the catalog; then publish the catalog online.
People who sign into an eXie user group or who receive an eXie notification will be able to access the catalog and can click any link in the catalog to access the chosen content on line.
There is nothing to install; the catalogs are available 24×7 on the web through PCs, tablets or smartphones; and the provider does not have to worry about moving or duplicating the content since the catalog points to wherever it already exists online without changing it. Existing security that protects your content, already set up outside of eXie, remains as is.
Content collectors can quickly organize the content access for maximum value in one or more catalogs; add, remove, show, hide, update and distribute the catalogs themselves at any time with no special skills required.
Take advantage of eXie right away
We all collect content because it contains the ideas that are most interesting to us. Because we have the collection, we can revisit those ideas at our convenience, with less risk of having to hunt for them again, or wait for them to reappear, or have them re-created.
Enhance and protect that convenience, for yourself and for sharing with others, by using eXie.
You can start using eXie productively in under 15 minutes. Whether your collection is just for personal use, for a workgroup, for a whole company, or for an outside audience, eXie works the same way for the same reasons.