This is the sixth and last article about the FAOCAS (read: focus) process of Experience Curating. If you're new to this series or the concept of Experience Curating, click here for the article introducing curating your existence.
You know him. I know him. We all know him.
He's the guy on Facebook or Twitter who thinks that everything he did, does, and will do is amazing and needs to be shared (with everyone, of course).
He's lacking discretion when sending long and frequent emails about the coolest thing he's involved with (which is everything, of course, and not helpful at all).
His calls make you think, “Son of a… what does he want this time?” instead of “Sweet! I can't wait to answer this call!”
He over-shares, under-delivers, and is one more tweet away from being permanently filtered from your existence.
That guy used to be me.
I fell into the ‘Click here! I'm awesome!' trap.
Getting ignored when you suck at sharing or, worse, having people talk about you behind your back, is not something I want you to experience.
The need for hardy filters for experiences out of your curating archive is just as great as strong experience filters coming into your archive. That's why the “S” in the Experience Curating FAOCAS process – Sharing – is so important.
It Starts With Silence
I firmly believe that you should keep quiet unless you can improve upon the silence.
The world is already too noisy and unless we have something good to say, it doesn't need us adding to the numbing number of words, bits, and bytes. So before your next chat, social media share, text, or email, ask yourself:
Will my experiences and how I communicate them be better than silence?
Preserve silence if the answer is no. But if the answer is yes, there's still much to keep in mind.
If you didn't create, find, or experience something directly, then someone else did. But what was the context of this person or people and how will you give credit (a.k.a. proper attribution) to the source?
A curator's mindset requires solid ethics and constant attribution.
What might initially look like a waste of time – maintaining ethics and giving attribution – will prove to be invaluable to everyone involved.
One way to attribute is with the Unicode characters ↬ and ᔥ. The looping right arrow stands for “Hat Tip” (HT) and the sideways looking “s” stands for “Via”. These two characters form the basis of The Curator's Code and are the brainchild of the groovy Maria Popova.
Note: I'd recommend reading the origins of The Curator's Code before reviewing the code itself.
This simple framework allows for attribution of anything and ensures that everyone's creative and intellectual labor is honored.
I've made a decision not to (regularly) use The Curator's Code (yet) because I'm (generally) not an early adopter. But I support ↬ and ᔥ while encouraging others to decide whether it's right for them. At the very least, think about how you'd feel if you spent months creating, say, a stunning and meaningful image… only to have it broadcast online without mentioning you.
This is the classic “put yourself in their shoes” lesson and I hope you'll try on many shoes.
2. Be Careful at the Boundaries
Sharing certain experiences is out of bounds.
But since the variables are too huge for a simple “If this, then that” chart, common sense – whatever that looks like to you – must reign supreme. Violating social norms might be the last thing you want to do… or the way you make a political or religious statement. Sharing a sexually-charged escapade could alienate someone who loves you… while simultaneously endearing you to thousands.
If you don't know whether, when, or how to share an experience, think about the situations where someone will be better off knowing about it. And be ready to have some call “Foul!” or declare you out of bounds if you don't improve upon our valuable status quo: silence.
3. Strategic Use of Fancy Pants
I'm fine with people saying:
Ohhhh. Look at Joel! Mr. Fancy Pants is talking about <insert one my favorite topics here> again. He's soooo smart!
The key is that I know which topics I am or want to be a Mr. Fancy Pants on so that I can intentionally focus on these and forsake Fancy Pants status on the rest.
I want you to think “Joel Zaslofsky” when you hear the words curating, simplify, organize, personal finance, paleo, minimalism, self-awareness, spreadsheets, connecting, podcasting, experiment, intentional, personal renaissance, and “he's a helpful dude.”
But I'm passionate about a ton of things like being a papa, hubby, or atheist, the New York Mets and the Minnesota Vikings, or old school video games… all things that I don't need to be a Fancy Pants on.
So if you curate many of your interests (or all of them like me), decide in advance which categories you'll shoot for Fancy Pants status in. Limit your sharing goals, strategically pursue them, and branch out into other topics after you're a certified Fancy Pants in your bread and butter.
I don't go to religious forums to share an article called, “10 Ways Atheists Do Simplicity Better Than People Who Love God.”
Know your audience, folks!
I don't know what your friends like or what a valuable extreme knitting competition resource is. So I don't bother sharing with your friends or posting on the Extreme Knitting League Facebook page.
In other words, I don't share an experience if I can't anticipate a reasonable response. Because unwelcome sharing is the kind of thing that leads to getting your lunch box super glued together when you're seven and riding a stinky bus to summer camp (not that I'd know anything about that).
5. Exist Outside the Twitterverse
Do you know someone that shares random experiences on Twitter like they're going to get punched unless they click “Tweet” every second? Please, don't be this person.
Even fast-paced mediums deserve intentional sharing, regardless of a tweet's half-life being one second or 18,546.893 seconds.
The guideline is simple: adjust the frequency and type of sharing to the medium and people receiving it (often with no opt-out or no way to filter the noise).
If that seems hard, remember why people keep telling you, “Just because the other kids are doing it doesn't mean that you should do it.”
6. Maintain Your Rep
Experiences don't obey the laws of physics; each one doesn't have an equal and opposite reaction.
You could write 1,000 blog posts and become a blog-o-sphere hero… only to be sunk by a sloppy 1,001st.
This is why you must curate and release experiences with a lifetime in mind. Employers, potential romantic partners, and the political party vetting your Presidential nomination don't care about the context of the poetry you wrote when rebranding your website.
For every one chance of your reputation growing from sharing, there are ten chances for your reputation to suffer (non-scientifically speaking).
That's why silence and discretion are the name of the curating game.
7. Curating Doesn't Have Deadlines
Robin Good once told me that, “Curation is all about attention to detail. If you are in a hurry, need to post [content] before noon, or have to do X number of curated items ASAP, you better give up on the idea you are curating anything at all.”
Right on, Robin!
The members of the Experience Curating Hall of Fame (ECHOF) never share something because they have to. They share when there is something valuable to communicate.
8. Get the Details Right
Attention to detail is an Experience Curating Hall of Fame prerequisite and the appropriate level of detail is just as important.
Emailing a good friend with just a, “Dude! Check this out” might be appropriate for your relationship. You know that he trusts that any link you send him will be worth his time (and often rants about voice recognition systems). But you would need to provide a lot of context if you sent the same link to someone you just met.
My rule of thumb is to over-share details because I trust that people can quickly filter through the crap to find the gold. The risk of unintentionally wasting your time is not as great as the risk you won't have enough context to understand why I shared and what you might get from an experience.
Pro tip: consider sharing in a medium other than text like audio, video, or a picture. I frequently turn on my microphone, record an .mp3, and email a file of me talking – just like addressing someone in-person – instead of typing a wall of text. It's easier, more expressive, and faster for me and is generally received better than the text-based equivalent.
Final Thoughts… and a Challenge
As we come to the end of Experience Curating month and the FAOCAS process, I want you to always remember why you curate.
Curate selfishly to increase your love, respect, and confidence.
Curate selflessly to add health, happiness, and freedom to as many lives as possible.
Curate experiences that you care nothing about, but will help someone desperate to know what you know.
Curate for the hunt.
Curate to experiment.
Curate to share the world's abundance with the less fortunate.
Curate for the love of curating.
Curate to show the world why Experience Curating is the thing that will help you with all the other important things.
But share with attribution, tact (or an intentional lack of it), conviction, ethics, value, detail, and your personal or community reputation in mind.
Remember the beauty of silence and preserve it until you have something great to share.
You're ready to Experience Curating like a freakin' pro now that you know the six steps of FAOCAS! Review the steps often, practice until they're second-nature, and share this month of Experience Curating in the right context with the right people.
For the comments: How are you going to curate your existence differently now? And how would you explain the FAOCAS process to someone with no context of this curating thingy?