In A World Of Unlimited Choice, Curation Is The Real Challenge

David Zaslav, President and CEO of Discovery Inc, says that in a world of unlimited choice, curation is the real challenge. This sentiment has professional and personal implications for all of us.

We are all drinking from the proverbial firehose of content these days. It’s not that there is more going on than there was in the past, but that we’re far more aware of events than we ever used to be. New York used to be the mystical city that never slept. Visitors could go back to Kansas and say, “nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Now, no one is in Kansas anymore. With the advent of the internet and the smartphone, we’re all in a narcoleptic NYC world 24/7.

Whether it’s for ourselves or our clients, the act of curating salient information is massively valuable. We can save people time and energy. The hard part is distilling it down to salience. Good curation is the real challenge.

Zaslav’s guiding principle, for everything from sports to science on television, is to curate to what people love. We can think of it as a framing problem. The old world ordered content for us – the nightly TV lineup was the nightly TV lineup. The new world, with infinite choice, now starts with what appeals to us and lets us choose. Therefore, if we want to provide people with salient information, we have to start with what they naturally choose and understand why.

The biggest advantage we can have in today’s world is a relationship where people feel confident that we are keeping them in front of whatever matters to them. The old world was about building our own menu and putting it out into the world. Curation is about understanding tastes, preferences, and even allergies (!) to build a custom menu for everyone.

Curation is more than a challenge, it’s a challenging opportunity for those that can get it right. Start with what they love, structure everything else around that. Play for the long-term. These relationships, based on values, can be much more durable than those that came before.

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