By Dean Whittaker

Many of us already feel overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information coming at us through traditional media, and now also through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The volume of information (content) is growing exponentially. What is missing is context. So what does this mean? To what should I pay attention? What matters to me?

Google, despite its million computer servers and enormous storage capacity, is unable to contain all of the data we are creating. Google now accesses less than 20% of the content on the Internet with its search engine.

So what’s the answer? How do we sort out the meaningful data from all the digital noise in our life? Esther Dyson, a noted technology futurist, says that search will give way to filtering. It will no longer be about discovering information, but it will be about giving meaning which currently only humans can provide.

But the answer to extracting meaningful information from data is through curation, according to Steven Rosenbaum in his book Curation Nation. He says (and I agree) that we will become a nation and world of curators – those who filter information and add value by adding context, meaning, and knowledge.

For many years, our company has been curators of business intelligence. We have added value to information by putting it into the context of economic development and commercial real estate.

You, too, filter information by giving it context and meaning whether it’s in a report you create or questions you answer.

New tools are coming our way to help us filter the flood of data to extract that of interest. For the iPad, there is Flipboard ( and Zite ( which filter the flow of information from the curators we follow or listen to on Twitter and Facebook, and present the information in a magazine format that allows us to flip through pages, scanning headlines for items of interest based on the author and title. If we choose, we can pass on those items to others who have similar interests to ours.

However, a word of caution needs to be noted. When we follow or listen to like-minded people, we run the risk of being trapped inside our information bubble in which no new ideas can enter.

This tsunami of information presents an opportunity for each of us to be curators of information, adding unique perspectives, filters, context, and knowledge. In fact, we can create our own cyber-journalism brand and monetize it if we so choose, or contribute to it for the common good.

In summary, because information is growing at an exponential rate, we will increasingly rely on curators to filter out that which is meaningful to us and we, in turn, will share it with others of like mind. We each have an opportunity to contribute to this effort.