Rob Burns

Rob Burns | Being Digital

Marketing nerd. Mindfulness (occasionally). Writer. Bookish sort. Springer spaniel owner. Exeter. Devon. App nerd. Marketing director at BEING DIGITAL is my way of exploring the opportunities and challenges of my digital and real life

Consume, Curate or Create? | Rob Burns | Being Digital

Consume, Curate or Create?

June 4th, 2013

Inspired in part by Paul Jarvis‘ article called There’s Just No Time.

I’ve noticed a pattern recently in digital stuff. We tend to fall into one of 3 boxes – consuming, creating and curating.

Each is an essential role. Without consumers, there would be no need to for creators. And without curators to sort and make intelligible the vast sums of information on the Internet, we’d all be lost at sea in the drivel of irrelevance.

So each role has its importance.

For me recently, I have noticed a certain pressure. It’s the pressure that I’m not ‘keeping up with things’ because I am not ‘consuming’ enough online. ┬áThe pressure, I realise, is a sense of being out of touch. But what with? Everything that’s happening online.

And that’s where I find the answer. There’s a whole lot more to life than simply what is happening online. Not everything that is happening is online.

Right now, we’re lucky to be exceptionally busy at work. In my spare time I am meditating, making time to read certain books, tending my kitchen garden and also exploring new sports like SUP paddleboarding.

So I’m curating a garden. I’m consuming certain special books which I think really deserve to be read. And I am consuming nature by being outside in my garden and on the water.

This is one of the problems of being digital. We have become a culture of reporters. And this culture basically says “I do not exist until I tell someone about it. I exist more when more people pay attention to what I do.” And this leads to a pressure, or an anxiety to report everything and to try to do things which people will pay attention to and validate. It’s like our best viewpoint of ourselves becomes other people. I’m not saying there is anything irrevocably bad with that. Indeed, it’s an important part of tribal dynamics and integrity. But perhaps we should be part of smaller, more specialist tribes more often in the real world and less in large amorphous groups in the digital world.

I’m resisting that pressure. I want to spend my time paddleboarding doing paddleboarding, not working out how to try and report it to people in an entertaining way (and I recognise the irony in the fact that I am indeed reporting it!) I want to be reading my books, not telling you that I am reading my books. And I want to see the many tiny miracles happening in my garden, even though it’s largely of no interest to anybody.

I think ultimately what I am trying to say is that I am working to find the sweet point between where my offline lives and online lives (I’ll explain that another time if I have time) dovetail to give me the best possible outcome.

It’s about choosing what to consume, what to curate and what to create in the knowledge that we only have so many hours in the day.

We shouldn’t feel guilty about being offline, or feel guilty that we’re not reporting things. After all, what we’re really doing in curating, consuming and creating, both online and off, is ourselves as lives, as people, in a really marvellous universe.


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