Saturday, January 8

Buzzing with Social Curation Tools!

Today, we are all facing information overload, and it is often difficult to find what we are looking for, especially if we are looking for updated collections of resources to support a topic, issue or idea. Major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo don't exactly do a great job in assisting either, which might also be partially due to the growing influence and spam of 'Search Engine Optimization (SEO)' gurus, engines and companies. It is amazing how much spam comments I get on this blog alone (10 - 20 spam comments a day!), thanks to SEO strategies. Amazingly annoying!


As Yahoo is trying hard to kill (sell) off Delicious gently, it is perhaps time to find and explore other alternatives to sort out my management of juicy learning resources and discoveries (URLs). Well, we still have Diigo, Stumble Upon, Digg, and a bunch of other cool social bookmarking tools to use. However, today there is a new wave of social bookmarking tools in the name of 'Social Curation', which are empowered with some really innovative collaborative sharing tools to make sense of the overloaded web by organizing discoveries and resources into mind-stimulating topics, stories, collections, etc. Let's explore!


While the buzz word of 2010 was 'Social Media', don't be surprised if 'Curation' or 'Social Curation' (attempted definitions) will be the buzz word for 2011 (signs). Just in the last few months alone, several social curation tools have emerged, including (source):

  • Pearltrees
    A social curation community that empowers you in a social way to discover, organize and share the stuff you like on the web.
    Create your topic-centric media by collecting gems among relevant social media streams, and then publishing it to people sharing the same interest.
  • Trailmeme
    Enables you to create a trail of content on a specific topic that’s interesting to you. You can also read other peoples’ trails and walk them to keep up with any updates they make.

  • Storify
    Turn what people post on social media into compelling stories. You collect the best photos, video, tweets and more to publish them as simple, beautiful stories that can be embedded anywhere.

  • Keepstream
    A social media curation tool that gathers all your favorite content in one place. It pulls in content from multiple sources, including Facebook likes and Twitter retweets, and let users build "collections" of social media content. Users control the presentation of their content, add their commentary, and embed these collections on a website or blog.

    A growing collection of topics & interests edited, organized and curated by everyone. Follow the topics you are interested in or create and share your own topics with everyone else.
  • Pinterest
    A content sharing service that allows members to "pin" images, videos and other objects to their pinboard.
  • Edcanvas
    What can you do with a canvas? Student assignments: Web quests, project-based learning and class presentation. Flipped classroom: Easily gather and annotate online resources. 1:1 environments: Share content using just one link Dynamic presentation: Make your class come alive with rich multimedia.
  • Zite
    Zite learns what you like and gets smarter as you use it. Zite analyzes millions of articles each day and brings you the best of your favorite magazines, newspapers, authors, blogs, and videos.

While we are at curation, here are a few really useful content curation (customizable auto-filters) tools to consider:
  • Cadmus
    A real-time service that manages your stream (Twitter, FriendFeed and RSS) by displaying the most relevant content since the last time you checked in. It helps you get caught up on what you have missed.

  • PostRank
    Tap into the intelligence of millions of online users active on the Social Web. PostRank captures real-time data and analysis on any topic, trend, or interest relevant to you or your business.

  • Yahoo Pipes
    A powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web.

  • gRSShopper
    A personal web environment (masterminded by Stephen Downes) that combines resource aggregation, a personal dataspace, and personal publishing. It allows you to organize your online content any way you want to, to import content - your own or others' - from remote sites, to remix and repurpose it, and to distribute it as RSS, web pages, JSON data, or RSS feeds.

WOW! Which one(s) to use? It really depends upon what you want to collect and how you want to share them. However, if you ask me what I really want, well here is a brief summary of what I really want:
  • Easy-to-Use
    Drag-and-drop and please minimize the clicks and loads... Plain and simple! Works on any mobile device with sizzling simple and user-friendly interfaces.
  • Adding & Organizing Resources
    Besides simplifying adding and organizing discoveries (topics, titles, descriptions, tags, etc.), it should have a search feature, and intelligently suggest resources (crawling and filtering out) within the topic (tags) I am using to collect (and even beyond to spark random discoveries).
  • Connecting & Collaborating
    It should enable me easily to connect and collaborate with others on topics, interests or issues, including plucking resources (or pearl branches) from others (giving automated recognitions to original curators), and so on.
  • Visually Stimulating & Intuitive
    Yes, it should be stimulating to the eyes and intuitive to the mind, and obviously be light enough to avoid slow interactions due to possible bandwidth constraints in certain areas, while curating on our mobile devices.
I could go on, but if these tools above can fulfill these basic needs, then I am willing to ditch Delicious for a new world. Ideally, I would love a large white learning space (in the cloud!), where I could easily dump everything discovered related to a topic, including videos, audio, images, files, sites, quotes, Twitter/Facebook updates, etc. and then organize them in a visually exciting and intuitive way, as easily as it is to scribble on a white piece of paper. And yes, I would be empowered to embed this saucy and visually stimulating interactive collection on my blog (or any site).

Still haven't found the ideal social curation tool :)


Ruth Howard said...

Thanks for that juicy list I intend to go through every one of your recommendations to discover for myself.

Anonymous said...

English is not my main language, yet I can fully understand it utilizing the google translator. Terrific publish, keep them coming! Best wishes!

Carlos said...

It's a great article, very straight forward and easy to read.

Unknown said...

Thanks for all the great feedback :)

Will try to publish more straight forward and easy-to-read articles in the future. I have this annoying subconscious habit of writing in riddles to annoy, confuse and make people think unnecessary :)

Feedback is always great, because it provides triggers to learn and improve :)

Thanks & Cheers!

Admin (Here Be Answers) said...

There are so many services popping up under the title "social" that it's become really difficult to use them all. Just like we are facing the information overload, it's a tools overload. Right now the trend is hot, but it remains to be seem which few truly useful services survive in the end. I see Facebook eating up all.

ajh432 said...

Thanks Zaid, this is what I needed but did not realise it!

ajh432 said...

Sorry, that was a pretty superficial comment I write yesterday! What I should have said was- I love using Twitter etc and getting all the links to recent articles/blog posts etc, but after a good session on Twitter, my mind is in overload. Social curation sounds like the way to decrease that. I ran a PLN workshop today and included one of the videos you put on your site- told people I got it from my PLN, so that was doubly cool. So, thanks, Zaid!

Unknown said...

Dear Andrea,

I wish I could attend your workshop :)

Just wondering, any chance of seeing your work online, too :)

Now, that would be cool :)

Thanks for your feedback! Highly appreciated!

Warm Regards,