Key web trends layed out like the Tokyo Subway map.

Thing 8: Curation Tools

The internet is full of Great Stuff (GS). It is, however, even fuller of Stuff of Questionable Value (SQV). How, then, do we sort through All The Stuff (ATS) to separate the eWheat from the iChaff? That's where we information professionals come in to our own! Libraries and librarians have long been about finding the right information for the right people. You could argue that, due to the proliferation of SQV on the internet, librarians are as relevant now as they ever have been.

A meaningless formula
All The Stuff minus Stuff of Questionable Value divided by a Librarian equals Good Stuff. Equation created by the Online LaTeX Equation Editor

So what can we use to bring this GS to our users, patrons, clients, customers, students and enquirers? One solution is:

Curation tools!

Yes, Thing 8 of Rudaí 23 is Curation Tools. This Thing had us exploring Pinterest, Flipboard and Storify as tools to bring information to our patrons. I will also talk briefly about a few other tools I have been playing around with in recent months, for both work and personal use.

(Click the headings to see my pages for each of the tools)

Pinterest

Of the tools discussed in this Thing, this is the one with which I am most familiar. I wouldn't say I am a heavy Pinterest user, but I have dabbled. I have both a personal and a work account, and use them to collect ideas and inspiration for library displays and events. Before doing this Thing, I had not considered using it for content curation. I can see the appeal - it's very visually strong, it's a popular platform, it is easy to use. However, it is primarily a place for saving images, and is limiting if you want to display or link to any other type of content.

Flipboard

I have looked at Flipboard in the past, but not for very long. I have tended to prefer "traditional" RSS feed readers for following blogs, sites, news and what nots. So while I wouldn't use Flipboard for my own personal news gathering, I can see the advantage of using it to create a digital magazine of relevant and up-to-date content for patrons. It is a different type of content curation to what I had in mind when I approached this Thing - I was thinking along the lines of a more static page of links and information. I think the more dynamic nature of a tool like Flipboard could work well in conjunction with a static page of links (for example, embedded as a widget in a site like netvibes, pearltrees or start.me - see below).

Storify

Of the tools discussed in this Thing, this is the one with which I am least familiar. I had looked at a few Storifyed stories in the past but they seemed to suffer from information overload and did not feeling particularly 'curated' - I could have found that information by going to Twitter and searching for the hashtag. So I have never really given Storify much serious thought.

Having had a play around with it for this Thing, I can see its potential (I created a brief Storify of the first three Rudaí 23 Things). I found the Twitter integration worked really well and intuitively, but had less success with Facebook integration. The other integration tools I tried worked well enough (not as well as Twitter, better than Facebook).

Again, this could work well in conjunction with a more static page, as a way of summarising a particular event, occasion or thing. I need to get a bit more familiar with it before I wholeheartedly embrace the Storify love, but I'm definitely closer than I was before this Thing.

Other Curation Tools

There are three other curation tools that I have been playing around with recently with a view to using them as content portals for the students at my secondary school. Each of them have features that I like and quirks I don't. Pearltrees works best on mobile devices and on different screen sizes, but I prefer the tab system used by netvibes and start.me. You can embed websites and widgets in all of them, but some work better than others. For example, I tried embedding the libraries catalogue into all of these sites, and have only been able to get it to work properly on netvibes. However, on netvibes, I can only view my twitter feed if I am logged into the page, so that is no use to the students who will be viewing it while not logged in. You can upload files and documents to Pearltrees - a feature missing from the other two. Here is my work-in-progress netvibes page.

In the end, it's a matter of seeing which ones (if any) work for you, and whether they are good enough. An alternative would be to make a website from scratch (or using WordPress, Weebly, etc...), but that takes a whole lotta more time and html know-how.

  • Note for librarians working in Educational settings: start.me and Pearltrees both have free educational accounts, which offer benefits such as additional branding and removal of adverts.
  • Something to bear in mind with all of the above: unless you use a generic work e-mail address to create these accounts, you have to remember to change the account ownership details if/when you leave your job!

2 thoughts on “Thing 8: Curation Tools

  1. Hi

    Another great blog post! I enjoyed reading it.

    I used to be a big fan of Pearltrees, but the developer ruined it about a year ago. I'm not sure how you have been using it, but do you remember a time when it displayed content in various branches? It actually loked like a stylised tree, and if you hovered over a bode, a new branch would open up. It looked amazing, and it was a very neat way to curate article that are linked to each other, but where you don't want to display all the article at the one time. They changed it and it's less visually appealing now.

    I was using it to curate my blog posts and my youtube channel videos. The branch system was really good for youtube, because you could have a node for each playlist, and when you clicked on it and new branch would open up with nodes for each of the videos.

    Since they changed how it works, I've stopped using it. For my use case, the attraction of it was the nice way it helped students navigate through my 50 or so videos. In its current form, Pearltrees is not better than the playlist browser built-into youtube. It's a pity, because it was really really good.

    You can see my pearltrees here if you like, but as I said, I stopped using it, so not all my videos are on it..... http://www.pearltrees.com/waynegmit

    The Rudai23 Team

    1. I've only recently started playing with Pearltrees, so have no prior experience to compare it to. I'm leaning towards either Netvibes or start.me at the moment.

What do you think?