Supporting the value of information in your enterprise

FreePint BlogCurating or creating: the slow hunch

Wednesday, 28th March 2012 Please login top-right to be able to star items

By Joanna Ptolomey


The slow hunch, a term coined by Steven Johnson, is the mix of slow burn ideas, happy accidents and serendipity. In their work, information professionals have a role in facilitating this as well as curating content which in turn sparks innovation.


Over the past few weeks the balance of curation versus creation of content and the effects on the slow hunch have been on my mind. Seriously.

Creator or a curator of content – I think we agree that there need to be both for innovation. There is very rarely that eureka moment, but rather a longer slow burn of ideas and happy accidents or moments of serendipity – that is the slow hunch.

In the world of information, I believe we as information professionals have a place where we need to facilitate the "slow hunch" - a term coined by Steven Johnson in his book Where Good Ideas Come From.

Let’s consider social media as an example. I have a habit of popping into other people’s Twitter conversations – don’t you? It is all part of curating content process by adding, editing, commenting, signposting and so the discussion processes. Very rarely do I find an absolute answer to my questions in social media, but I do believe it is incredibly useful when searching for lots of clues to aid the slow hunch.

I believe that curation can help creators and innovators with more clues. It helps creators move beyond what we already know, fill in some pieces of the jigsaw or connect ideas or processes together where there was no knowledge before.

Curation sparks the creator and there are tools to help.

Curation is one of the strong themes at the South by Southwest conference this year and is creating the buzz according to the BBC. Tools like Pinterest are building capacity and a recent Fumsi article outlined how we may find it useful.

With an estimated 12 million users, according to Techcrunch, the company has now updated its terms of service against an issue around copyrighted materials and selling of personal content. It's a sure sign that this company is setting out its stall for the longer term.

One of the problems of digital content is identifying the creator and the curator. Attribution in the digital age can be fuzzy. I curate and create content for the LiveWire. I need a constant supply of original content. I look for trends and issues but shape the article with original content from my industry perspective. Importantly I also point towards the original ownership for transparency.

Again at the South by Southwest conference there was talk around attributing original digital content. An interesting thought was the value of a curator’s code. This is essentially symbols that either show for "inspired by" someone else or content "came from somewhere else".

Historically the curating creating content idea is not new, but in the digital age it is harder to manage. The slow hunch is not really a new concept either, however I think now more than ever that information managers and professionals have a real role in curating and creating content to aid the slow hunch process.


About this item:

Item Topic Category:

View all Topic Categories »

Joanna is a freelance information consultant and analyst. She started her career in information as a clinical librarian in the NHS before moving to global consultancy group DTZ. Prior to working in the information sector Joanna was a project planning engineer in the construction industry for 10 years.

She hopes to help people use information for assessing risk, making decisions and in governance. She is particularly interested in inequalities issues such as accessibility, information literacy and the information divide especially in the healthcare sector. She is the author of a chapter 'Digital divide and accessibility' in Government Information Management in the 21st Century. She is also the author of the book Taking charge of your career: a guide for library and information professionals.

You can follow Joanna on Twitter.

More articles by Joanna Ptolomey »

« See all FreePint Blog items

FreePint Topics
Sources: Staying informed and aware
Technology: Improving information work with technology
Value: Maximising value for information work and investment
FreePint Newsletter

Keep up-to-date with the latest FreePint articles and tips by email twice a month.

Email address:

Newsletter 396
10th April 2014

FreePint NewsletterWe highlight details of our latest product reviews, webinars & consulting projects. Find out about upcoming Community of Practice sessions.

Register free »
Newsletter archive »

Have a FreePint Subscription?

"Yes, we subscribe"

Login to MyFreePint to access purchased content, be able to 'star' items, and to share items with your colleagues.

"No, not yet"

Find out more about the benefits of accessing all our premium articles, reports, webinars, communities of practice and consulting, through a FreePint Subscription

Keep up-to-date by signing up for the FreePint Newsletter.

"Don't know"

Contact us and we'll check if someone in your organisation has already purchased a subscription.

FreePint Subscription

A FreePint Subscription gives access to all FreePint content (articles, reports and webinars), Communities of Practice and consulting. Find out more.