Find, Follow, Finesse, Feed: The future for technical authors?

A number of commentators have suggested that, in the near future, content curation will play a key role in technical communication. As more content is generated by users, there needs to be someone who manage this content and ensure users will be able to find the right information.

Techcrunch has just reported on how YouTube is dealing with content curation, and there seem to be a number of lessons that technical authors can learn from this. YouTube’s summary of its strategy is very succinct:

Find, Follow, Feed

YouTube’s approach is to involve the users in the content curation. According to YouTube’s Brian Glick:

Find refers to the process by which you find people on the site that you may already know or are interested in, whose activity you can then Follow through the site’s subscriptions (you can granularly control which items you’d like to be alerted to, like Subscriptions, Favorited items, or new video uploads). Finally there’s Feed, which should really be called Share. The idea is that after you’ve been presented with content by YouTube’s Find and Follow features, you in turn are going to share that content yourself, which lets the cycle begin anew with everyone that is following you.

Of course, this may not be possible where you have a significantly smaller audience, where there isn’t a million plus people contributing. Indeed, YouTube is looking into offering a reward system to encourage users to participate. 

It also assumes the content is of an appropriate quality for others to get value from it.  The concept of Find, Follow, Feed will look attractive to technical writers, however I suspect they are likely to implement it in a different way. Firstly, they are most likely to be doing nearly all of the finding, following and feeding. Secondly, they may need to add an additional step: finessing (or editing) the content so it’s of a suitable quality and accuracy for other users.


mick davidson

Ellis, thanks, very interesting. I’m experiencing a bit of the the four F’s through our wiki at work. However, when people talk about these things through blogs etc, they always seem to coming at it from the idea that the user info is in the public domain, and/or is coming from 100s if not 1000s of people. We’re only a small company with a limited number of potential contributors – possibly no more than 200. It’s be interesting to see how such small organisations are affected by the four F’s scenario.

Ivan Walsh

Hi Folks,

Real-time information is holy grail.

I think the future of TWs is defining, categorizing and syncing content – rather than writing endless paper docs.

AND putting it all on mobile devices.



The problem is one of engagement in a typical TW scenario. People visit YouTube (leave Amazon reviews, comment on blogs…) because they’re motivated to do so. It’s an uphill task getting salaried employees to contribute to intranet, wiki, blog, etc., let alone capture the enthusiasm of an end user, who needs an answer in time of difficulty.

I’m ignoring successful open source doc projects in favour of rhetoric 🙂

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