Business Briefing 2016-11-30

In the news today…

Quick News

 Government Consultations and Announcements

EU News



Business Briefing 2016-11-29

In the news today…

Quick News

Government Consultations and Announcements


EU News

Business Briefing 2016-11-28

In the news today…

Quick News

Government Consultations and Announcements

EU News

Help me to help you

I have been providing current awareness and writing web content for many years. Yet it is only recently that I have considered the end product. In an information and writing role, you’ve completed the task when you send the answer or results to the client. But you rarely see the result of your work, and I often wonder why this is.

Information v Knowledge

When client ask for help, I might guess how they use my work but you never know. One might argue that seeing the end result isn’t that important. After all, if your client created value from it, then what more could one do for them?

Some people are happy knowing that they’ve fulfilled a request to the best of their ability. But I think this is what separates an information worker from a knowledge professional. Anyone can find ‘information’, although providing insightful and anticipatory ‘knowledge’ is harder.

Tell me about your end product

My experience is this. The more I know about the client’s end product, the faster and more accurate my response will be. The initial briefing they give me will help me anticipate and visualise their reason for wanting the work.

I appreciate that this isn’t always possible. Sometimes they don’t know exactly what they need! When they contact me they are either early – or late – on in their work. But it is important for clients to know that I can improve the information I provide, if I am familiar with what it’s for.

For instance. if they want a current awareness briefing for a meeting, is my summary broad enough? If it’s an article for a blog post, is the tone correct and do I have all the right key words in place? If I am assisting in any PR, are they ahead of the news curve? Have they been reading the business briefings daily, and if so, is it targeted enough?

I don’t know where the knowledge gaps are. Questions and concerns like these present challenges to me when I am not directly involved in a project.

Get me more involved

Help me to help you. Send me a detailed brief. After reading through that then we may need to have a conversation to fill in any gaps. If you’ve never worked with a knowledge professional before, you might wonder why I can’t just get started. There are other benefits of having a chat. Only when we talk might you realise I have special skills. I might be able to help you more than you think.

Thus you can get me involved from the start by telling me the end.

Curated current awareness and quality control

I always take a broad definition of current awareness. There are many interesting sources, from alternative media and user generated content generally. But how does one differentiate between convincing fakes and the genuine well-researched balanced article?

Against the background of world political events, Facebook is at the centre of a news scandal. It has been widely reported that the social media platform published fake stories. They may have influenced the outcome of the US election. This raises many issues.

A non critical readership

We have to accept that some people are uncritically accepting of material online. This is nothing new. People have always sought out like-minded people for validation and confirmation. If you are a content provider it is your responsibility to be as balanced and accurate as possible. We need to encourage people to question the accuracy of content.

Facebook as publisher

We have to look at where people are getting their news. Facebook has become more than friends and family. Everyone was predicting the death of Facebook, but it is redefining itself as a broadcaster and marketplace. People are sharing what they read and stories can go viral. We need to check these stories to see where it was originally published. Then we can make an informed value judgement about how reputable it is.

Checking the sources

There is a problem with much of the news and we have to look at the source carefully. There has been an unbelievable proliferation of churnalism over the past few years. Much current awareness shared on Facebook is meaningless clickbait. There are lists masquerading as news, or low-quality regurgitation of sensational stories. These are easy to create, spread and manipulate.

And it’s not restricted to the buzzfeed type sites. Many stories in the broadsheets, the so-called ‘quality press’ are nonsense. They are often subject to advertising, partisan editorial, and political spin. You can find a balance by double checking the same story from different sources. You can go back to the original press release. This can be problematic not to mention time consuming.

I am here to help

We are fortunate to have so much media choice but you have to take care not to be taken in. But I can assist you on a daily basis. My aim is to sift through as much of the news as possible and identify the useful stuff. I am an effective curator and it is my role to put together a current awareness briefing that is flexible, intelligent, and interesting. And unique to you.

What is current awareness?

office block in the sunBeing well informed is essential in this connected and information saturated age. If you want a guaranteed competitive advantage, you need to read the right stuff. Five minutes spent on a curated collection of current awareness could be an excellent investment of your time. But what is current awareness, what does it include and how can it work for you?

Current awareness is nothing new; the concept has been around for a long time. Both consumers and providers have subjected it a lot of discussion over the past four decades. They have drawn distinctions between ‘current awareness’, ‘current awareness services’, and ‘current awareness systems’. But generally we define current awareness as the process of keeping up to date.

The right information

So much for historic definitions. I like the collection of points in the most recent BIALL Handbook of Legal Information Management. It states what a current awareness service should deliver:

  • [The] right information to the
  • Right user, at the
  • Right time, in the
  • Right format, covering the
  • Right sources, at the
  • Right cost, with the
  • Right amount of effort to keep users up to date.

This focus on the word ‘right’ is an essential part of current awareness provision. On the face of it, the provision of current awareness is easy to get right for you, the client. But I want to highlight what current awareness should contain. It might be helpful for recipients to understand what I am looking out for on their behalf.

The right information

As early as 1979 information expert David Kemp said that there was more to current awareness provision than imagined by users. He stated that there were four types of knowledge in the process.

  1. New theoretical ideas and hypotheses;
  2. New problems to be solved;
  3. New methods and techniques for solving old and new problems;
  4. New circumstances affecting what people do and how they may do it.

These four slot into the various parts of the BIALL definition but how does this work in practice? New information is only useful if it is the right information. Given that there are a multitude of bulletins and updates available, you have to be selective about what you receive.

Definitions like the one above are useful and I opt for the broadest one. I include the usual news sources, but flesh out the bare headlines with other material. This includes the following;

  • company information
  • legislation and consultation papers
  • high quality insight/opinion/thought leadership pieces
  • institutional, governmental and any press releases, from fee and free sources across the globe

Your input is vital

Finally when you tell me what is right, I can give you what is new. But remember current awareness isn’t just about what is happening in the news. Sometimes the right current awareness can be about taking an overview and making connections. Then you can make sensible assumptions about how you can apply your specialist knowledge to the best effect.

Be informed. But be informed in the right way.