Back in May, we explored one of today’s most popular content curation tools: Scoop.it! Today I would like to broaden that discussion and look at a number of other alternatives to Scoop.it!.
There are different aspects of content curation that have to be considered when evaluating tools. Just like a crossroads with many different paths, your tool choice determines the direction of your content curation activities.
Some content curation tools have more advanced features with regards to the collection and alerting aspect of identifying new content. For example, Feedly has become well known as the RSS aggregator successor to Google Reader. It is a content curation tool that has specialized on the collection of content for the user to evaluate. As well as doing a good job of keeping track of RSS feeds you wish to follow, Feedly also offers a search engine which allows users to search for additional sources of information on a topic. These new finds can then be added to your feed as well.
Some content curation tools have very attractive display and organization features. For example, Tweeted Times is a specialized application that allows the user to created themed collections of tweets in an attractive newspaper format. Twitter lists or twitter searches determine the content which is refreshed every hour.
Another popular tool that utilizes a newpaper-like layout is paper.li. It combines entries from Twitter hashtags, photos, blog and newsline articles and Facebook. For example, Michael Steeleworthy published a paper.li paper called The Academic Librarian Review. I have found this particular tool to be a bit klunky in its skill of returning content that was on point for my interests, but it has remained a popular choice on tool lists for some time.
When considering photos and graphics, Pinterest offers both the ability to easily add to your topical boards, but also to search others’ boards for new items fitting your topics.
Other content curation tools have better defined functionality for the actual curation and annotation of curated content. A prime example of this type of tool is Storify. Popular in K-12 arenas for several years, this is a tool that is often overlooked by academic users. This tool allows the aggregation of text, video and images from many platforms including Twitter, YouTube and Facebook along with user content which relates the items together into a story or timeline. One example of an application of Storify with an academic bent is the story created by Jeff Sonderman on the 9/11 anniversary broadcasts.
Another popular tool in the K-12 arena is Flipboard. This tool allows users to create their own personal magazine. Articles, blog posts, photos and other media can be aggregated to create attractive, professional-looking layouts in a digital magazine style. K-12 teachers actively use Flipboard to create resources guides on class topics or current event magazines for their students to read as a part of their civics lessons. Teachers also create assignments where their students create flipboard magazines on their assigned topics instead of the traditional paper report. I can see uses for academic professors, college student projects and librarians. As well as the types of uses popular with K-12, there are interesting applications for academic librarians using flipboard in creating user tutorials. For example, here is a short flipboard on the tool Evernote. While this is not strictly a content curation related use for the tool, it is still a potentially effective application of the tool for typical work activities.
Understanding what functionality is more important to us is key to making the best decisions about which tool to adopt for our use. That being said, there are many very successful content curators who use multiple tools in order to reach different groups and to capitalize on the special features that different tools offer. Consider your goals, take a look at some of the tools mentioned here, or in other tool review articles on the web, choose a tool and then get your feet wet. Whichever tool you choose, getting started with content curation is the most important part of the process. You will refine your skills and learn what does and does not work for you as you hone your new skills.
Have you started making content curation a part of your life? Share with us; let us know your successes and lessons you have learned.