AM MCEwan – Curation? the bigger question is skills and willingness to dig deep

I think, okay, so there is two answers forming in my mind. Curation, in a sense… the book, my book I just finished and spent two years writing was an exercise in curation. Well I wasn’t curating it for everyone else, I was curating it for me. What did I think? What were the dots that I was joining from a longitudinal perspective, from 30 years ago to now. And then also what patterns was I seeing now?

So I think curation, then becomes an entry point. It is back to diversity, isn’t it, Thierry; in that we are all different and because we are all different, some of us really want to do ourselves. You know I sometimes think I am like a three year old having someone help me do my shoe lace. Isn’t it, no, no, no, no, no, me, me, me, me I will do it.

Whereas, you know, the clever way is if someone is already going to the bother of curating, and especially if that someone is someone who has got deep, deep knowledge, then that’s an entry point. I wouldn’t see that as being a lazy way of someone else doing the thinking for someone else. It’s an offer; the people can either accept or reject. It’s an entry point; it’s one way of getting in there. So I don’t have a problem with curation.

The bigger question, the bigger question is skills and willingness to dig deep. And I think the willingness comes before the skills and again another thing I find, I have done in the past, is discerning – this is probably unfair. A big person says something, and because a big person, and by a big person I mean someone who has got some sort of profile on the internet. So a big person, he says something; wow… that’s interesting! And it gets – it gets taken up and passed on, like the person was going to […]and you say, oh actually, that was an interesting thing he said. But where is the evidence? Where is his evidence for saying that? And I think, apart from the willingness and the ability to dig for information, there are research skills.

I think the skills, I think the connected world and information overload in particular and our skills of selection, understanding why, in amongst all this plethora of stuff. I should pay attention to this article, rather than that article. So whether I am explicit about it or not, I have criteria as to whether I am going to read them or not. Once I make the decision to then filter that piece of information or that resource, I can give attention to it based on… as I say there are explicit or implicit criteria. The next thing is, once I start to read it, read it with a critical mind, read it with critical facility, with a questioning open mind.

So am I more willing… we all have biases, so I think the skills are about selection, understanding that we make our selection, understanding about critical thinking, understanding that we all come to things with bias. So although I think I am a critical thinker, I am aware sometimes that, I regard someone else’s, my perception of someone else’s, knowledge and authority, and that maybe influences how I think about what I am reading.

The very thing that I am criticizing other people for, is: “oh well Thierry says that, he’s a good, you know, a good resource”. And I read it perhaps with a less questioning mind than I would normally do, I don’t know. But what I do know is an information overload. I am certainly not persuaded by technology, say by Google, choosing for me what I should see “we recommend you, read this”. No. And so if I read what I read, then my filtering process is usually about my perception of the integrity and the knowledge that I think the person has. Does this person have the right, for me to say, I think he knows something about this. And so if I think that he or she, you know if I think that, then I read something.

So the filtering, the filtering is very, very skills based. It’s an understanding that we have a process for choosing what we read. And then when we start to read it, it’s not so much about overload anymore and I think perhaps this is even more relevant. Its how do I make sense of that information; what critical reasoning did I bring to it? And I think if there is a skill that I think, more widely, and I include myself in this, is developing skills of critical faculty.

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