Dealing With Emotional Data

Someone (you know who you are) recently commented on my post about curation.

In part, the comment read, “Do you mean that it is the end result of the analytics phase, where relevant information on a specific topic is collected and acted upon?” The answer is yes and no, and I thought it would make a worthy topic to occupy the next couple of minutes.

First, I was intrigued about the idea that curation might be “the end result of the analytics phase” because it implies that analytics is all that’s important. Now, analytics is uber-important, but it’s not the only way to gather information from all the social data we suddenly find ourselves immersed in.

In fact, thinking from a pure analytics perspective might simply put us into a different box. Some data isn’t quantitative and therefore subject to analytics, and we run the risk of collective Asperger’s Syndrome when we think it is. Lots of the data we deal with isn’t quantitative and it might not even be qualitative either, it might just be, shall we say, emotional.

The Human Touch

There was a speaker at the Sage Summit event recently who wrote a book on emotional intelligence — wish I could remember his name. His point is that it’s not the smartest kids in the room who succeed, but often it’s those who understand the other people. I think he was right. Handiwork of the smartest kids in the room gave us the Wall Street financial debacle and Enron, and I think there’s a book with “smartest kids in the room” in the title related to one of them. It is not a complimentary title; more sardonic at best.

OK, at any rate, my point is that analytics is a tool — be careful how you use it. Also, curation is not part of the analytics cascade and is, I believe, on the spectrum between qualitative and emotional.

Think of curation as the kind of analytics that only a human mind can achieve. It’s re-tweeting gone a little hyper. But rather than being able to re-tweet a tweet, curation lets you glom (regrettably more technical jargon) together into that re-tweet all sorts of valuable social jetsam and flotsam, including the original tweet, other tweets, Facebook entries, YouTube and other videos, blog posts and anything else that can be linked — music, perhaps?

Curation shines by enabling people to bring together thematically related elements into a package that perhaps elicited an original feeling or thought or even an emotion. It may be the closest thing we have for conveying a zeitgeist, which in German means “the spirit of the time or the general trend of thought or feeling characteristic of a particular period of time.” So says, and so do I.

Persuading Without Pomposity

So curation gives each of us the chance to cobble together things and ideas that made us think. It’s a bit like presenting a coherent argument, but rather than a lot of tight logic, the recipient is left to sort through the data and come to a conclusion. That’s why I think it’s a powerful tool for persuading people. No one likes to be led from premise to conclusion, especially in front-office-oriented business processes like sales and marketing. Curating evidence from multiple sources gives us the ability to be persuasive without some of the cant of broadcast advertising for instance.

So, that’s it. In a future which I envision that includes much higher travel costs, we’ll need as many ways as possible to let the Internet do our bidding so that we don’t need to get on a jet or into a car as we do now. Video is certainly one way to get the job, but so is curation and bringing together persuasive information, which may include video. It is certainly another thing to look at. That’s why it interests me so much.

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