Curate or Create?

Should you curate or create?

twitter is a great medium for discovery of valuable resources. Someone I follow retweets something that leads me to discover high-value content I did not know existed. The best use-cases for twitter are as a knowledge resource and newsfeed in that order. For a consumer, this ecosystem needs creators, those who develop original content, and curators, those who enable you to discover great content. Most social media presence can be classified into one or the other bucket. Both are of tremendous value to consumers, with stark differences. I’m writing from experience of financial twitter but am comfortable guessing it applies generally.

The reward-to-effort ratio for curation far exceeds that for creation. A creator is constantly worrying she has run out of valuable and original points of view to articulate. A curator is never short of material. An inaccuracy or flawed logic in a piece that gets pointed out after it is published keeps creators up at night. Curators move on to quote from the next article because the flaws are never theirs. For a creator, time spent tracking down a train of thought to write about is time spent not following another, potentially more rewarding one. For a curator, all time spent browsing and reading is well spent.

Why then, should anyone bother with the risk of rejection that comes from creating? Why not just curate others’ content that has already survived the test?

Curation brings big short-term rewards. The instant gratification of follows, retweets and mentions. The positive reinforcement can be intoxicating. Browse, skim popular article by popular source, find highlight quote, post. You can do it waiting in line at the supermarket. It is a race to link to the currently popular articles (just check for how so many different curation sites link to the same set of articles at the same time). Fastest finger first. No wonder then that the number of sites that curate content seems to far outnumber the sources of actual content.

Creation has no short-term rewards. Labour through books and research pieces to consider different viewpoints. Do your analysis to see real-world implications. Type out what can turn out to be, a poorly articulated, even flawed point of view. It is slow. It seems a pointless exercise. Each time you do it though, you make yourself think critically. Test ideas, even popular ones for weaknesses. Generally accepted truths that are in fact limited in their application. Perfect investment philosophies that have no chance of working when human emotions are involved. Your understanding of the world gets better because you struggled with the ideas long enough.

Investment ideas can be borrowed but not the conviction needed to profit from them. That conviction comes from having thought deeply enough about investment philosophies to hone one that is individually yours.

You are a creator even if yours is an audience of one, you. But it needs the willingness to trade breadth for depth. Slow over Instant. To wrestle uncomfortably with ideas that sound like no-brainers but you have no idea how to implement.

Choosing to create is to fundamentally understand the power of compounding.

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