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Spring Cleaning Knowledge Content with Curation

By Mary / Apr 16, 2015

We all have different tolerances for neatness and order. There are the obsessive cleaners, those who thrive in a bit of chaos and disorder, others that hoard.

Wherever we fall on the tidy scale, in our physical lives we are forced to organize and get rid of things. As one of our senior software developers, Denton Cockburn, put it:

There are physical constraints that make order necessary.

We pick up clothes off the floor because there will be no more space to walk. We clean dishes because we need dishware to put our next meal on.  The boundaries of objects and space compel us to maintain a minimum level of order.

We also get psychological rewards from organizing our stuff. For example, when we work with fewer distractions around us, it’s easier to concentrate, find things and accomplish more. Getting things done makes us feel satisfied with ourselves, which can translate to confidence that spills over into other areas of our lives.

Our digital world is more forgiving if we don’t pick up after ourselves. The radically low cost for most (free) cloud storage services can lead to digital hoarding as the standard because there is no real need to remove stuff.

In 1981, a hard drive that held 10 megabytes cost nearly $3,000. Today, Dropbox users can store a gigabyte for as little as a penny per month. We pay nominal fees to add more and more content.

But when we look at our own knowledge systems, they are bloated, riddled with duplicate content and never up-to-date. Our Data Scientist, Ary Bressane, recently undertook a fascinating study of our own Confluence knowledge base and found that almost 70% of our documents were out of date! (Ary shares other interesting findings from his research in this post.)

One of the reasons we let our knowledge systems get outdated in the first place is fear of the unintended side-effects of updating or removing content. “What if someone is relying on this salesdeck from 2004?”

When everyone gets in the habit of thinking someone else will take care of things, clutter ensues. Doesn’t that sound kinda like trying to keep messy roommates cleaner?

Actually, the “messy roommate” persona is somewhat of a muse in how we’re designing Collections, the next big feature we’re rolling out for organizing content in Reveal.

This feature is all about How To Do Very Little To Stay Organized.

To some degree or another, we all become the messy roommate when it comes to organizing our content, so Reveal is handling the OCD on our behalf.

Reveal helps users stay tidy through small actions, similar to the way LinkedIn encourages us to curate our professional networks through features like ‘Endorsements’. LinkedIn knows that we are not going into the platform thinking, “Who should I recommend today?”

But having suggestions on people and skillsets to click on, is such an effortless action – we actually endorse!

The same thinking is going into content organization in Reveal. If we want people to organize their content it needs to be effortless. So we’re building this philosophy into all axes of the product, from labelling Collections, giving users nudges to merge or archive content that hasn’t been used in 6 months (Roomie doesn’t even have to get off the couch to take out the trash!) to having an easy way to hide content (like a cram closet) where it is still accessible, just hidden away from the main living area.

One of the main reasons why clutter happens is that we have trouble letting go. (Or we let things go and they gradually become more overwhelming to tackle). In our digital lives, information overload is something we deal with every day, and curation is already how we are optimizing our ‘signal to noise’ ratio across the web (think: YouTube, Songza, Pinterest, Netflix, Amazon).

There isn’t only an untapped opportunity in curation for enterprise, there’s a need for it. We don’t we need to be ingesting more content, we need to be honing in on only what matters. Curation can help teams enhance the context and relevance of content, making it more useful and valuable to themselves and their team.

With our Collections feature coming soon, users will have the ability to create custom personal and team collections, alongside a major UI upgrade. We want to make it simple for even the messiest roommate to keep things tidy by making content organization, effortless, fun and rewarding to do.

Soon you’ll be managing all the web and enterprise content you’re already collecting, by topic, project, or interest, and keep discovering your team’s curated results whether you’re in Reveal or Google.

Learn more about Reveal on our website or join our mailing list and be the first to know when Collections are released!