The Art of Personal Curation

Yes, you're curating and yes, it's personal.

Scrolling through your notes, text messages, and hundreds of screenshots, you begin to realize you'll never dig up the name of that movie a friend said you'd love. You're searching feverishly for it, but after a while, you settle for a stranger's recommendation for another movie online. While you're settling into the couch with some popcorn and starting to get into the plot, you start wondering if you'd be enjoying your friend's recommendation more and are overwhelmed by the feeling that the experience you're having might not be the best possible one. You wanted to make the most of your night, but now you're not so sure you made the right decision. What if you'd found the original recommendation? But you didn't; you've settled. Sound familiar? 

This experience, though highly relatable before the events of 2020, has become an even more common one in recent months. Although sharing recommendations has always been an important way to bond with friends and family, it has become central to how we socially connect in a time when we haven't been able to be with each other in-person. Because of Covid, we've been searching even harder for new experiences that we can have at home. The overwhelming amount of content we see and hear about during our morning scroll through social media and during Zoom conversations results in almost too many discoveries that we want to remember. Further, the recent developments in the Black Lives Matter movement earlier this year have also led to an increase in the amount of resources we all want to save and share with others in order to learn more about how to bring change in ourselves and our communities. These influxes further amplify our desire to extend the life of select content so we can return to it in the future. 

Our habit of grabbing and saving the best possible experiences from the rapidly-changing content tornado has become as natural as eating or sleeping. So has the process of creating lists of TV shows, movies, restaurants, books, and more for our friends and family when they ask for recommendations. Both finding experiences to try ourselves and recommending experiences to others make up our collective habit of personal curation, and whether we're aware of it all the time or not, we all do them. Yes, we know "curation" is an intensely overused word today, but we believe it's overused for a reason: it perfectly applies to these omnipresent behaviors. Because of the amount of time we spend on our phones and the high volume of content swarming around us all the time, we seem to have no choice but to constantly sift through the noise in order to find the best experiences and products out there. We're curating all the time, but no one seems to be talking about how to make this process easier or why it's become such a common habit. We wondered what research existed about personal curation, its influence on us, and its shortcomings, but after months of searching, we found very little on the subject and decided to conduct our own study in order to learn more about this increasingly important part of our lives. There were three major findings in our research, and here they are:

"Because of the amount of time we spend on our phones and the high volume of content swarming around us all the time, we seem to have no choice but to constantly sift through the noise in order to find the best experiences and products out there. We're curating all the time, but no one seems to be talking about how to make this process easier or why it's become such a common habit."

For starters, we're on our screens all the time, sometimes nearly 11 hours a day, over 4 of which consist of time on our phones¹. We use our phones not only to connect with friends and family but also to stay up to date on the ever-changing news cycle or the latest social media buzz. In other words, our screens serve as powerful extensions of our lives. Secondly, we found that all this time on screens and social media has amplified the amount of brand messages we see each day. Even before smartphones, we were surrounded by advertising and constantly encouraged to buy random products by friends, but the combination of brand messages online and offline has resulted in our being faced with over 4,000 brand messages every day². Most tech companies make money from their advertising, and by designing their platforms to be addictive, they get us to keep coming back and viewing these ads, even if it's just to scroll mindlessly for a few minutes. The overwhelming amount of messages we see coming at us on our screens and off leaves us with no choice but to constantly be curating from the raging storm of content, and when we realize that there is just far too much content out there to handle alone, we ultimately turn to trusted friends and family for recommendations. Finally, building off of all of this, we found that we all seek experiences that can have a long-lasting impact on us. More than ever, we care about the experiences we're having because we know they have the power to change our perspectives and fuel our personal growth. We know that experiences are not only beneficial to ourselves but also the ultimate way to connect with others. Our desire for the best possible experiences has inspired us to search harder, dive deeper, and curate more intensely. This points to a need for new tools and technology to seamlessly find those experiences and share them with others.

Although it seems to have enveloped us suddenly and almost without our noticing, personal curation has become a foundational part of our lives and is only becoming more essential. Because of the problems that come along with it, though, the process of finding, trying, and recommending amazing experiences has become unnecessarily stressful. Up until now, there really hasn't been a comprehensive technology platform that is focused on solving the problems that come with personal curation, so despite our immersion in content, it is nearly impossible to follow through on all the experiences we initially jumped with excitement about. This is why Compell'd is dedicated to providing people with the necessary resources to brave the storm of content and finally get to the experiences they know have the power to change their lives for the better. 

¹https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/1/6/21048116/tech-companies-time-well-spent-mobile-phone-usage-data

²https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/08/25/finding-brand-success-in-the-digital-world/#28a2e160626e

October 26, 2020

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