Collecting versus Creating – A Digital Dilemma?

June 10th, 2010   •   2 comments   

Don’t just collect tonnes of digital crap! (source)

Beyond the curation of online information (text, photos, videos, games etc), social media strategists should also learn how to be judicious in the art and science of collection. However, just like working in a museum, collecting digital “treasures” need to be done purposefully.

Frequent online users collect (and consume) a lot of things.
We collect email addresses, mobile phone numbers, and MSN nicks.

We collect fans, friends, followers and commenters on social networks like blogs, Hardwarezone, forums, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Youtube.

We collect news and updates from an entire range of aggregators like Digg,, Huffington Post,, and more.

We collect RSS feeds, blog posts, links, retweets, shared photos and videos, graphs, charts, slideshare slides and the like.

Admittedly, we also collect lots of digital drivel – celebrity slip-ups, social shenanigans, camwhore photos, and political skeletons in the closet. We also collect lots of irrelevant and irreverent information – tweets on that cute girl in the bus, Facebook grunts and grumbles, and the cries of despair in 140 characters or less.

(Of course, the fact that almost all online applications are FREE doesn’t help, but I digress)

If we are not careful, we may end up collecting and re-spewing so much third party data and information that we become postboxes. With everything served in bite-sizes, one can easily over-indulge on digital candy and become bloated with (mis)information.

Perhaps it is time to apply the axe more frequently. Cut down on the streams of information coming your way. Be purposeful and selective in what you read, share, monitor and write. Separate the wheat from the chaff.

Instead of just being a passive collector and a disseminator, be a creator and a curator. Divide your time between reading/skimming other people’s content, and rolling up your sleeves to create something meaningful and worthwhile of your own.

These can be in the form of blog posts, Facebook notes, Youtube videos, Flickr photos, an audio recording of your thoughts, or anything else that adds to the body of knowledge.

Of course, not everybody can write, tweet or produce an online episode as well as the kings and queens of social networks like Xiaxue, Seth Godin, Natalie Tran or Danny Choo. However, I firmly believe that original and real insights are sometimes more valuable than repurposed content.

Life is short. Don’t just be a digital drifter or a real-time recycler. Let others hear your voice and know who you are. More importantly, do it for yourself and invest in the future.

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  1. posted on Jun 13, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    Thanks for posting this, Walter.

    It strikes a chord because it articulates far more clearly what I try to get at in

    “Don’t just be a digital drifter or a real-time recycler” — indeed.

  2. Stephen Rowe
    posted on May 10, 2014 at 2:34 AM

    Read Emerson’s Essay “Self Reliance”

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