what is the best way to curate content?

“curation” is a big buzzword on my mind right now – since we are drowning in information, curators of quality content are some of the most valuable fixtures we can find. my previous job was at a boutique that only brought in the best of finely made men’s clothing. jenny nicholson, funnily enough, curates “bad media” with her critiques. my friend lito is an invaluable resource to me, as he visits a ton of restaurants and curates a list of his favorites.

part of me just wants to make lists and share them (a google doc makes sense). i would love to have an easily navigable collection of lists somewhere of quality resources and content. i guess the best thing i have going for that need right now is are.na (link) which is kind of a minimalist, pinterest-like website where you can save your favorite internet things in a pleasing way.

as we curate, patterns emerge. the trick is starting and then refining the process. i love books, cafes, people, and walking. i am sure there is a way to somehow collect data and to make it pretty, which is what museums do, and what any good curator does as well. how will you share your collections, and how will you focus the themes of your finds?

ask a question

i’m curious what challenges, setbacks, and struggle you are facing. as entrepreneurial folk, we’re often ambling in the dark with no handbook or map. the best thing we can do is try and try again, but i’d like to see if teaming up and working together can clarify the next steps of our ventures.

so, what’s up? what questions do you have for us at the orbit? we interview creative professionals every week, so odds are if we can’t answer your question, at the very least we’ll know where to look. submit your inquiries via this typeform here. no e-mail required, just your name, your locale, and your question. thanks in advance, and i look forward to seeing what you’ve got for us!

finding time

finding time to do the thing you love is incredibly difficult. a lot of us simply don’t have a lot of time to spare, and we end up buying books, getting gadgets, and asking for advice for ways to get more time.

time, like money, is a resource. and i’ve learned that we can get more time if we pay attention to the time that we already have.

in ramit sethi’s book i will teach you to be rich, he claims that people don’t actually want to be rich. they want to feel rich, which means being able to spend money guilt-free on the things you enjoy. buddhist thich nhat hanh tells a similar story in his book the miracle of mindfulness. he tells a parable of a man who spends time at his job, with his kids, and running errands and doesn’t have any time for himself. but, at one point he learns that all this time is actually his time.

This kind of perspective shift frees us – if you don’t have time, what are you doing with the time you already have? How can you reframe your day so that you can properly use the time that’s already given to you?

you’re already good at something

a lot of us are trying to learn a new skill set: programming, budgeting, waking up on time, drinking water. even as we are expanding our capabilities, i think it’s important to remember that there are some things you are already good at.

for a long time i wanted to be like my friends and become a software developer. it was really difficult trying to teach myself code, so i took some courses and went to meetups and interviewed folks i knew to ask them the best way to go about learning to program. then i realized that i had a skillset that others didn’t have: networking. using my social skills, i gathered a lot of information about writing javascript, freelance work, and the struggles of going at it alone. this led me to found my company, the orbit.

never forget that you likely were born with a superpower. it could be assembling ikea furniture, or making a tube of toothpaste last a really long time. but you never have to start from scratch with your skills, you build upon the ones you already have.

generative vs. non-generative systems

i’m currently reading “the future of the internet and how to stop it” by harvard law professor jonathan zittrain. the chapter i am currently on defines generative systems, or things that people can build other things with. a lot of tools online are generative, though some or non-generative. jonathan suggests that generative systems push innovation a little bit better, and are more receptive to new ideas.

there are a delightful couple of pages in which zittrain tells us the difference between generative and non-generative products. legos are generative, while a dollhouse is not. a knife is generative, while a potato peeler is not. you get the gist – a generative tool allows for its user to do a lot of creative things with it. currently, i use a generative system called glitch (link). it’s a website that teaches its users how to code. it is full of tools and building blocks intended to build web apps. i’ve made some tiny vr environments, algorithms that write poems, and yesterday i toyed around with maps.

if you are lucky enough to find yourself in a generative situation, i encourage you to play. you’ll innovate and create something new just by having a good time, and by seeing what directions your new tools create.

get sophisticated clients

i was lucky enough to talk to a media consultant this past week. she makes a living studying the impact of social media campaigns for businesses, which is something that i am very interested in. i asked her a ton of questions about her career journey, and in return she asked me a lot of questions about my own business ventures.

today, i’m thinking about one of the things she told me in our meeting: “get sophisticated clients.” “are you interested in doing innovative things?” “yes, of course,” i replied. “well, that means you can’t waste your time with companies that aren’t interested in innovation. you need to find clients who are looking for cutting edge stuff, especially if you are providing cutting edge stuff.”

previously, i had been spending time working with small businesses and teaching them how to run their social media campaigns. this was all fine and dandy, but many of them were uninterested in social media as a whole, along with anything that was different from what they were already doing. “this is not going to help you in the long term, because the kind of work you will be doing will be a little bit basic,” my new friend told me. so, currently, i’m taking this to heart and continuing my search for “my people”, the tech-savvy folks who are looking to become better managers.

i changed my day job

this week, i had my last shift at a day job that required a lot of mental energy. i got another gig, and though i haven’t started yet, i am hoping it will free up some cognitive space for me to hunker down and work on my passion projects.

this was a difficult decision. job X was stable but demanded a lot of time off the clock. job Y is less glamorous, but will pay roughly the same and will have a varied schedule. however, i can say with certainty that i am relieved to close one chapter of my life and open up a new door.

i spent the afternoon after my last shift in seattle’s cal anderson park. i stared at the clouds and closed my eyes, and just enjoyed being in this temporary limbo between gigs. i learned a shitload at job X, including how to sell to a particular client, how to work with manufacturers, and how to maintain a standard of excellence on a day to day basis.

it was an exhausting journey, but i know i will bring everything i learned at job X to each new project i take on.