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Create, Curate, Cultivate : Spring Clean Your Creativity

Posted on Nov 10, 2012 by in ThiNK First | 4 comments


Creating from nothing is hard. Ex Nihilo.

A blank page is scary. A white canvas. Where to begin?

We all freeze when faced with the idea of creating from nothing.

Curating Ideas is much easier. Cultivate creativity by standing on the shoulders of giants. Build on greatness.

  • An empty pinboard > Not so scary
  • An empty list > Lots of ideas pop to mind

Collecting and curating comes from a different place. Organizing from all the available ideas – that’s fun, not scary. More importantly curation is satisfying.

We live in a world where it is easier to express everything in the form of an existing something.

That is the essence of curation. Assembly and reassembly.

We can take a magazine and tear out clothes or haircuts or colours.

We can make a playlist from our existing songs. And our list can fit our actual or desired mood. Our actual or desired action.

Do I want music to chill out or to run to? Cut your playlist to cultivate a mood.

We can bookmark urls, copy images, compile video clips.

People are organizers before they are creators.

Out ability to reassemble content is almost infinite. We have patience for curation. Curation can be just like spring cleaning. Therapeutic.

We can make our house pleasing again. There are multiple beneficiaries to curation. The curator and the audience – Visitors to our house.
  • Old content begets new ideas.
  • New content advances and refreshes an old idea.
  • Get get back to the bare bones – the basics
  • Re-find your essence.

It’s nothing new. Clothing and style has gone through this process for decades. Clothes designers are curators.

There are only so many forms. “Fresh” is such a subjective word.

We use old ideas to express new ones.

What the heck is a “Fresh Idea”. Really!

Fresh Ideas are just smartly curated ideas.

We can say:

  • Gaga is like Madonna
  • Ferraris are like Lamborghinis
  • Puma is like Nike or Addidas
  • Mega Blocks are like Lego
  • Toms are Like Espadrills

We don’t have to be right. Life is a discussion. Perspective is just opinion. Perception is your reality. Curation is life.

Existing objects are building blocks for tomorrow’s products. We snap together new idea like using Lego blocks of old ideas. Maybe we ride roughshod over IP. Maybe we piggyback over existing IP.

Reality check: often the ideas we are stealing from did just that from someone else.

Imitation is flattery. In the end it’s just a faster way to communicate.

You still have to differentiate your product in the mind of the buyer, so too similar can be too forgettable.

When it comes to content, curation is simply a faster way to express an idea. We live in a fast food age. A McDonalds Big Mac Combo is Curation.

Who wants to think and order every item, we order combos. Give me Bento Box B. Then we make substitutions. We crave uniqueness derived from sameness.

Time is of the essence: less time to decide, less time to order.

Let’s hope you enjoy the experience. I’ll take the bento box!

Simplicity is the only way forward. Less is less. Less becomes more. There is simply no arguing.

The dumbdownification of life.

We live a life or acronyms and shortisms.

Twitter dropped communication to 140 characters. You could argue it’s improved clarity and self expression. It’s an acquired taste. Pendulums swing.

Fashionable skirts rise and fall just like the length of the ideal blog post.

Do you even explain a movie by telling the story? No. Never. Nobody would listen. No time for that. Instead we say “It’s like X,but with a Y”

It’s like “Jaws, in the Jungle”. It’s “Speed on a Train”.

Modern life is an elevator pitch. You don’t need to be a startup to need an elevator pitch. If you crave attention, you cut your cloth.

Life is short form.

And curation makes it easier.

We have so many frames of reference, we can contract new idea by reusing old ideas. It’s just our cultural norm.

Curation is the modern form of self-expression.

There’s nothing shocking in this concept.

It’s not called creation, it’s called curation.

We need to cultivate these skills, to hone our ability to express more potent ideas, in less time.

It’s an acquired skill. Am I wrong?

image Credit : nirufe  via and Creative Commons

Nick Kellet (164 Posts)

Nick is co-founder the social curation platform Listly, that combines crowdsourcing, content curation and embedable lists to drive high-level community engagement, live inside your blog posts. Connect with Nick on Twitter · Linkedin, Facebook and G+ and follow his writing via his other guest posts and on his blogs at and


  1. Nick you are SO RIGHT!  The concept of the under appreciated power of curation (and for me personally synthesizing) is something that has been very top of mind for me lately.  I think we are just beginning to tap into the power of “creative” curation – and those who are at the forefront of this trend will be the curators of the change-making that is coming down the pike.
    Hope you had a great birthday!

    • amymiyamoto Birthday was fun. I like synthesizing. I do think curation is misunderstood. This was a bit of a rant on my behalf. Curation needs more of a voice.
      What I love is it gives accessibility to so many more people. And for me that’s always a good thing.

  2. Nick, right on the money. I am currently writing a blog that relates very nicely here. Will send you a link when published. I love the concept of the Bento Box. I see a blog in that sentence, Nicely done my friend.

    • GettysburgGerry Thanks:) Funny how Bento box is about distilling the art of Japanese food and a Big Mac Meal is just a deal!

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