Almost any content can be easily categorized by Location, Alphabetical, Time, Category, and finally Hierarchy.”

Following the Mother Road
A Case Study in Progress: Aggregate. Curate. Compose. Share.

One of the features I like with Flipboard is the emphasis on the visual — photos and video – from the media you curate, but delivered uniquely.

They’ve figured out how to flip a page in your smartphone view.

They’ve differentiated themselves as the app that allows you to create “magazines.”

The YouTube boys, when they formed AVOS to reinvent Delicious, tried and failed to grab photos and text scraped from websites you saved into their “Stacks.”

When they discontinued the “Stacks” I had already composed travel itineraries – road trips – throughout western United States organized by regions.

Burned again.

A Corvette. An Open Road. What Could Go Wrong?

Because of the more engaging customer experience on Flipboard, I experimented with “Best West Road Trips” having reconstructed my former Delicious “Stacks” and retraced Route 66 traveling east to west.

The Mother Road ends at the Santa Monica Pier.

Well, not exactly, but the attraction more than makes up for historical inaccuracy.

You can’t drive any further west into the Pacific Ocean.

Hundreds of Dry Parched Miles to the Beaches of the Pacific Ocean

And, when standing at the end of the pier you look at the beaches to your left and right, you realize your next road trip adventure calls you with its siren song.

The iconic, and much more scenic road trip on Pacific Coast Highway.

So, I began curating  the coastal south-to-north route.

Profiling vacation beach towns, missions and piers beginning with Coronado in San Diego, California and terminating with Pacific Northwest towns and destinations like Tumwater and Port Angeles, Washington.

Goin’ Coastal on PCH

But, like the old Delicious “Stacks” you aren’t able to edit as much in your magazines as I wanted.

Except to rename your magazine, pick your magazine cover from a article already included and, in their desktop “editor” mode, rearrange the sequence of your articles.

OK.  I take it back.

Quite a bit more.

But, still not enough for what I wanted.

Other than facing some vexing technical issues, the experiment I’ve been conducting in my “knowledge lab” is to determine how much of a following do my handful of magazines attract.

Is there a Minimum Viable Product in the mix that attracts a large enough audience?

Across my first seven magazines I posted over 1,200 articles, but stopped when Flipboard’s bug prevented me from accessing my very first articles and all but the most recent 75 to 90.

Flipping Through Flipboard’s digital magazines

Why is that a show stopper?

Remember I’m tracing a road trip in sequence.

Living a Coastal Lifestyle

Where North San Diego County meets Trestles, the legendary surf spot at San Onofre, right there on the edge of South Orange County.

Where PCH takes you from San Clemente and Dana Point to Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and so on and so on.

Best Strolling and Surfing Beaches

One town after another up the Pacific Coast.

But, articles and stories appear when reporters, freelancers and travel editors decide.

Some seasonally.

Some randomly.

Nothing like the Funk Zone in Santa Barbara

So if all I have editing access to is 90 of the more recent articles and I’m “in the Central Coast Region” and I post a story about Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone chances are I can drag and drop it exactly where I want it in relation to all the other Santa Barbara articles.

But, if today a writer published a travel article profiling the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego and I want to slide it next to the other Coronado stories in the San Diego itinerary  – 250 articles ago, I can’t.

Coronado Island a Must See in San Diego

I wanted one Flipboard magazine …

“Best West Road Trips – 

“There’s nothing quite as all-American as a road trip, especially in the West, where a wealth of culture, natural beauty and excitement unfolds before you.”


I planned to brand just the Best West Road Trips with repurposed local itineraries later.

So I panicked when at first San Diego was no longer reachable.

Slow recovery.

Best Places to Find Adventure and Just Plain Fun

It took months of rework.

The workaround drove me to many more magazines than I initially planned.

By roughly a year later the number exploded …

  • from seven to 28 magazines,
  • from 1,200 stories to over 13,000 articles and
  • from a handful to 514 followers.

“Fool me once …. fool me twice… mission accomplished.”

But, the promise is enticing.

In Flipboard you can add pictures, tweets, SoundCloud audio and videos.

And you can share your media magazines throughout your social media network.

For all you consultants, freelancers, authors, artists, lifestyle business owners and entrepreneurs, you can instantly create a publication dedicated to building your brand-as-an-expert.

Curate pictures, reviews, the content you publish on your blog, news stories – you name it – everything that helps you create and extend your brand.

You know, public relations …

My own brand is KnowLabs with the tagline

Literally bottled and set adrift from KnowWhere Atoll

For some reason, I keep coming back to Ev Williams, especially more recently having discovered his latest startup — Medium — a visually stunning publishing platform.

Following Ev Williams Blogger to Twitter to Medium

You know him from co-founding Twitter.

I first found him when I began four years of blogging.

Beginning in the spring of 2002 using Blogger created by one of Ev’s first internet companies.

I ended my “Journal of 2020 Foresight” and with my last post in the fall of 2006.

Moonlighting at the time I forced myself to get up before sunrise and search for documents in my knowledge bank.

I’d write and revise my postings for a couple of hours and then post them to Blogger.

I didn’t know anybody else who was blogging.

I didn’t know what I was doing.

Four Years Blogging on Ev’s Startup Platform

And I didn’t know that Ev lost almost everything — including his partners and employees, because he earned no income from the free Blogger tool.

Maybe that’s why he personally answered all my emails …

Google eventually bought his company about nine months after I began my journal.

Desktop Web with Buttons, Links and Search

But, I did know Apple during those Blogger years switched to a new operating system that wasn’t backwards-compatible.

My favorite knowledge banking software – a flat database named Hypercard, a misunderstood forerunner to wikis and what would become the worldwide web – would no longer be available to me.

Thanks, Apple. No Backward Compatibility.

Is there a lesson here?

Two lessons emerged from my “Knowledge Lab” between 2002 to 2006.

My first?

Information Anxiety to Knowledge Resilience

Richard Saul Wurman’s information architectural  made it easier to retrieve content in my knowledge bank.

Remember the acronym, LATCH.

Almost any content can be easily categorized by Location, Alphabetical, Time, Category, and finally Hierarchy.

Which as it turns out is a handy way to tag sources you’ve aggregated.

The second lesson use “instructional design techniques” to convert information into know-how that …

  • solves specific problems,
  • forms standalone blocks or modules of targeted learning, and
  • can be repackaged into a larger curriculum.

More on how the second technique aligns with business models later.

Every consultant and lifestyle business owner wants to turn on streams of income to make up for time when they can’t be billing.

One obvious option for consultants is a book.

When the Great Recession hit in 2008, finding income streams became critical.

I joined a writing support group to translate my “Journal of 2020 Foresight” into a book.

I had just negotiated a 3-year retainer at the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business conducting workshops and one-on-one advisory sessions.

It took a year to finally self-publish the book so I could include what worked for Executive MBA students – mostly Gen-Xers with 12 to 15 years of experience in their late 30s and early 40s.

As they faced the most hyper-competitive executive job- market they probably would face in their career.

When it was finally published in 2009, I contributed five chapters to

“Adapt! How to Survive and Thrive in the Changing World of Work.” 

We structured the content into three categories; “How We Got Here,” “Wisdom and Strategies,” and “Advanced Career Tactics.”

My chapters were titled:

“It’s Been a Long Road Behind Me and a Long Road Ahead”

“Why Careers Are like Real Estate Markets”

“Leap But Don’t Trade Your Dream for a Nightmare”

“Create Your Dream Job, Save the Planet”

13 Ways to Stay Off the Endangered Species List”

A third lesson took a long time to learn.

I didn’t understand how internet marketing worked or how people supported themselves online.

Between the winter of 2007 and the winter of 2013 — after sunset and before sunrise,  I fell into the black hole of figuring out how to generate income on the Internet — while advising “entrepreneur-wanabes” and desperate career changers by day.

I knew nothing.

I didn’t know enough to even to search for the right resources at first.

And then a fire hose of information hit me.

I lost my bearings trying to separate fact from fiction and scams from trusted advice.

More to follow …

My day job and my moonlit job converged in the fall of 2012.

We already know that LinkedIn is the 100 pound gorilla-platform for professionals.

Not Facebook.

LinkedIn’s Audience

In October 2012 LinkedIn introduced articles from their selection of well-known “Influencers.”

LinkedIn sent 25,000 invitations to users in a pilot rollout.

Today you can compose essays – or share your blog posts — with their new publishing tool found on their website.

Each of your content stories – your opinions, insights, summaries of critical issues – helps build your brand as a thought leader.

Your content resides on your LinkedIn profile for every visitor to read.

Each article is displayed with a catchy photo and your attention-getting headline.

And, more importantly, your article circulates among your first degree audience.

If your articles resonate with that audience, your carefully crafted musings can reach an even broader audience with each “follow” button clicked.

And best of all, you can link your viewers to your blog, website or other social media accounts.

And then, what happens?


(11) Maintain a consistent process of content aggregation, curation, composition, and circulation.

An excerpt from Book Two in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you make more money from a lifestyle businesses you’re truly passionate about.


“One of my core strengths was to repackage information so others could take action.”  

LinkedIn’s Audience
Robin Hood, Wikipedia and Knowledge Nuggets: How to creatively grow your brand as an expert.

All about content aggregation, curation, composition and circulation.

Or the 4 Cs if you excuse “aggregation.”

Let’s say you do.

And pick up an earlier thread about making LinkedIn work for you.

LinkedIn offers the ability to convert content you’ve been curating into content you can repurpose to share.

Over the arc of my career it finally dawned on me that one of my core strengths was to repackage information so others could take action.

It slowly evolved as I grew from my role as an instructional designer into a chief knowledge officer.

At the heart of it is a process of “knowledge refining and manufacturing.”

Panning for Nuggets

Finding knowledge nuggets, refining them, repackaging them and selling them – as training, as consulting, as just-in-time tools, tips and references – at client locations or online.

In all my contracts I retained the rights, so I could build a suite of “repurposed” content customized to needs of the next set of clients without having to completely start over.

Sell to One Client, Repackage for Others

Consulting like knowledge management, some say, is a game of “Robin Hood.”

Taking from the rich – your former clients and giving (charging your fee) to the “poor” (those who desperately need your solutions).

Panning for knowledge nuggets wasn’t always as easy as Googling or jumping into the cross-linked curated pages of Wikipedia.

Really Simple Syndication or RSS made mining for nuggets in Internet streams fairly easy.

Once you found a news feed or website, blog or any other content you searched in your browser, you could subscribe to its feed by clicking on the RSS icon.

Popularity of Magazines

Like a subscription to “Sports Illustrated” or to any other magazine (remember them?), you received new content in your “reader” as it was published.

Social “bookmarketing” platforms like “Delicious” in the early days (2003) made it easy for you to tag, find and share compelling, entertaining and fascinating content from your RSS feeds.

Tagging replaced having to guess in which file you saved your favorite document to on your desktop, because you could assign multiple tags.

Evolution of Delicious

And social bookmarketing allowed you to find sites you that you saved in your work computer’s browser, for instance, but not in your home computer’s.

Delicious, like many “first-mover” companies trying to figure out how to monetize their platform, kept verging on the brink of going out of business, though.

Gobbling Up Internet Properties

Yahoo bought them (in 2005), but couldn’t figure out how to monetize them.

In the spring of 2011 the YouTube boys – Chad Hurley and Steve Chen — picked them up after leaving Google (AVOS Systems), but fumbled with their efforts.

In May 2014 AVOS sold Delicious to Science Inc.

And, Science like in the childhood game of hot potato, tossed them to Delicious Media who broke the functionality by returning to the original software while using advertising to support it.

We’re still waiting on the return to a functioning app.

New features came and went.

Full Disclosure:  I still have 21,086 articles sitting in Delicious, but to protect my investment in “nugget accumulation” – some say addiction – I’ve resorted to redundancy – spreading where the content resides to multiple “places.”

Google Reader Throws in the Towel

When Delicious finally goes belly up, I still can access critical “knowledge-products-in-process.”

Google Reader set a standard for aggregating feeds until even Google decided to exit the business.

In 2013 alternative mobile apps and platforms sprung to the top of critics lists —

  • Feedly,
  • Old Reeder,
  • Netvibes,
  • Newsblur,
  • Digg,
  • Swarmiq,
  • Vortl,
  • Totally.Me and
  • Flipboard.
Flipping Through Flipboard’s Digital Magazines

Some made it easy to share to with their social networks and save items to read later.

Others supported smart phones and mobile devices.

Some lacked mobile apps.

A few claimed to learn the types of content you preferred.

Some others skimmed search sites and Facebook and Twitter feeds for you.

There’s a lesson to be learned there.

Whatever it is, it’s just energy sapping and time consuming.

Frequently when you need it the most.


(11) Maintain a consistent process of content aggregation, curation, composition, and circulation.

An excerpt from Book Two in “The Knowledge Path Series” dedicated to helping you make more money from a lifestyle businesses you’re truly passionate about.