Evernote Casserole

Casserole Dish Sometimes in cooking one throws together a casserole dish from whatever is in the refrigerator.  So, now, I have thrown together a review of a number of smaller e-books I’ve gathered on Evernote when the cost was from free to $2.99 or so.  Some of them have been useful, some less so.  As usual with most collections of written material, almost all of them have some feature(s) that makes them valuable and some that aren’t so helpful.

Of course, there are reasons why ebooks are not the best choice for any software, especially ones that have versions for so many browsers, operating systems, and mobile apps.  Evernote in particular changes constantly, and not in an even pattern across versions.  A great new feature may appear first in the iPhone app, then cross over into the others.  So, since books are not updated often, it would seem a book is not a good choice for discussing software.  On the other hand, Evernote has a metric ton of features, and thus a book can be needed to give a more complete picture.

I have tried, therefore, to mention books that are recent (within the last couple of years, for the most part).  Given these considerations, here are the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Warning:  A lot of these are self-published, and the bibliographic information can be sketchy.

The Good

Evernote:  Wow!  I Didn’t Know It Could Do That. Author: G. Scaysbrook,  July, 2014, sold by Amazon Digital Services, and listed by them as 175 pages, but seems much shorter (Kindle books don’t show page numbers as such, but rather the percentage of the book read).

It offers a good selection of tips, decent writing, and easy-to-read graphics (I use the Kindle app on my Nook HD, which includes color, so not sure how well the screenshots on any of these books look on a black and white or paperwhite device).  Example tips that were well done including emailing notes to your Evernote account, including the syntax for doing so.  Also well done were searching notes and the extensive syntax Evernote has for searching.

I will highlight new tips and features; since I consider myself advanced in literacy about Evernote, I am assuming that things I don’t know are things the average user won’t know either.  So in this case, things I didn’t know included how to unmerge notes and how to create shortcuts to your computer’s folders and files.

Evernote for Windows: The Most Comprehensive Guidebook, by M. Yilmaz.  July 2013, 122 pages.

Table of Contents clearly labels which topics are about actions to take, with the rest being discussions, and features are ranked as basic, intermediate, or advanced level.  It is already out-of-date since it lacks any mention of reminders, for example.

Examples of good discussions include the benefits of synchronized and unsynchronized notebooks; search syntax; why notes are in only one notebook unless copied (similar to folder/file structure in your computer); advanced search syntax such as searching for attribute,  file type,  dates created,  etc.  This book, along with several others, mentions using special characters to place a note or tag at top of the list,  such as !Urgent. Good discussion of customizing the layout to create look that works best for you,  including the favorites toolbar.

Things I didn’t know: can create hierarchy of tags.   To do so,  drag one tag on top of another,  and dragged tag becomes child node. Also that notes deleted are not deleted immediately,  can go into trash and undelete them.

Master Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Organizing Your Life with Evernote (Plus 75 Ideas to Get You Started).  by S.  J.  Scott, July 5, 2014.  Archangel Ink. 127 pages.

The author does a lot of self-published productivity books, and the Evernote Scott YouTube videos.

Does explicitly discuss GTD in the book. Includes a good discussion of adding notebooks and tags for a GTD system in Evernote,  including nested tags.

The 75 Ideas for getting started with Evernote section is variable in quality or application for a specific individual,  but a great idea for person who might be having trouble visualizing how they might use Evernote – and even habitual users might find some good new ideas.

For example,  #7 –  everything you speak to Siri or Google Now can be archived in Evernote.  There is a link to an IFTTT recipe for appending to a reminder note. Ideas #14 through 19 are for college students,  such as saving various documents such as syllabi,  creating notes for useful for specific classes,  creating a digital school filing cabinet  (perhaps a better idea to use it as a digital portfolio for college work).

Things I  didn’t know:  Did know that that in searching quote marks could be used for a phrase,  did not know one can use an asterisk as truncation symbol; besides creating shortcuts to folders and files,  you can,  in Windows,  set up a folder to import into Evernote (everything you add to that folder becomes an item in Evernote); with Skitch, besides doing some  markups of files, one can save the files as PDFs.

Master Getting Things Done the David Allen Way with Evernote.   By Dominic Wolff.   Organized Living Press.  August 2013 edition.   79 pages.

This book is designed to get you up and running with GTD using Evernote in 7 days.   Nicely set out to introduce both,  though not comprehensive on either,  and not meant to be.

The Bad

How to Use Evernote: The Unofficial Manual. by Mark O’Neil.   August 31, 2012, 61 pages.

This is one of the free MakeUseOf ebooks.   The layout is good. Includes very basic information,  but lots of visuals.

Things I hadn’t thought of or know – send favorite tweets to Evernote via IFTTT.  Mentions Evernote Trunk.

Ranked among the bad because the information is so basic, and because it was “published” in 2012 and therefore quite out of date.

Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Capturing Everything and Getting Things Done.   by D.  E.  Gold.   2011.   69 pages.

Some use in organizing Evernote for accomplishing GTD.  Big idea is to have  master note with links to other notes (every note in Evernote has its own URL) for such things as planning travel,  meeting agendas, next actions,  and client notes.  Not as good as the Wolff book listed above.

65 Ways to Use Evernote to Supercharge Your Life.   By T.  McNally.   35 pages,  Amazon Digital Services.   Jan.  4, 2014.

Items 36-48 on education, most of which are applicable to college study.   Items 49-54 are about research,  also mostly applicable to college.   Most of the rest about personal life (travel, finance, etc), with the last few about Evernote features useful to anyone.  The fact that most of it is focused on personal life and so little on professional life is the only reason it is in the bad category, otherwise it is a nice little book.

The Ugly

Practical Guide to Evernote (Windows)  by Prof.  Jeffery Owens.  Fountainhead Publications,  June 2013.  40 pages.

Poor layout,  poor visuals.   Not a great deal new.

Does have interesting bit on sorting notes in chapter 7.  Usually reverse chronological order, but can order them by almost any attribute.  Includes an extensive and categorized list of keyboard shortcuts. Also how to use the Wine environment to install Evernote on Ubuntu (various consumer versions of Unix such as Linux and Ubuntu are the last operating systems on which Evernote does not work), and how to add a player to open audio files directly in Evernote.

Evernote Essentials Guide Boxed Set – includes Evernote: What You Should Learn or Know About Evernote by David Blaine,  and Evenote: How to Master Evernote in 1 Hour and Getting Things Done Without Forgetting by Jason Scotts.   Date for boxed set is June 2014, doesn’t mean the books are, and there are no dates on each book.  Both mention reminders,  so they must be fairly recent.  Moreover, the title may be meant to confuse this book with Brett Kelly’s often mentioned Evernote Essentials, written by a man who worked for a time for Evernote and knows it inside out (no, I haven’t read it, so it is not reviewed here – the copy I had was corrupted).

Blaine –  Bad organization,  mostly useless details few if any screenshots,  no bibliographic information (several of the books reviewed suffer from this).   Suddenly starts talking about a mind mapping software near the end without a segue.

Scotts –  p.  29 to 62.  Very basic intro to both Evernote and GTD, not particularly valuable or well laid out.

The Rest

I have also read two well-done, professionally published and book length books on Evernote, Evernote for Dummies (there is a 2014 edition which I don’t have) by David Sarna and My Evernote by Katherine Murray.  I recommend both of them, but the twin problems with them are price and currency.  The Murray book is excellently organized and laid out, and is a great book for beginners, while the Sarna book is also well done and includes more advanced features than Murray does.

Has this been a comprehensive review of all books published on Evernote?  No.  These are books that I have run across, acquired, and spent the time to look at.  Hopefully, though, they will give you an idea of how popular books on Evernote are, and a helpful guide to some that might be affordable AND useful.

 Works Mentioned

Again, the bibliographic information on these books is sketchy, so a professional quality citation is difficult.  I have tried to form something that vaguely resembles APA style.  ;-).

Blaine, D. and Scotts, J.  Evernote Essentials Guide (Boxed Set). Tech Tron, June 13, 2014, 68 pages.

Gold, D. E.  The Unofficial Guide to Capturing Everything and Getting Things Done, 2nd Edition. Publisher: Daniel E. Gold, 2011, 73 pages.

Mcnally, T. Evernote (65 Ways to Use Evernote to Supercharge Your Life).  Amazon Digital Services, January 4, 2014, 35 pages.

Murray, Katherine.  My Evernote.  Que Publishing, Febuary 27, 2012, 256 pages.

O’Neill, Mark. How to Use Evernote: The Unofficial Manual.  Make Use Of, August 31, 2012.

Owens, Jeffrey.  Practical Guide to Evernote (Windows).  Fountainhead Publications, June 8, 2013, 40 pages.

Sarna, D. E. Y. and Richie, V.  Evernote for Dummies. For Dummies, March 16, 2012, 384 pages.

Scaysbrook, G.  Evernote: Wow!  I Didn’t Know It Could Do That. No publisher, sold by Amazon Digital Services. Page numbers unknown.  Published July 16, 2014.

Scott, S. J. Master Evernote: The Unofficial Guide to Organizing Your Life with Evernote.  Archangel Ink, July 5, 2014.

Wolff, D. Master Getting Things Done the David Allen Way with Evernote.  Organized Living Press, August, 2013.

Yilmaz, M.  Evernote for Windows: The Most Comprehensive Guidebook.  Publisher: Murat Yilmaz.  July 17, 2013.

 

Productivity by the Numbers

As summer reaches to the end of July, thoughts begin to turn toward a new fall semester of classes, activities and students for many of us. Now is a great time to spend a few moments and take a look at some other ideas for productivity.  Let’s consider productivity by the numbers…

Only 2 Rules: How to Manage Your Projects with Personal Kaban:   http://facilethings.com/blog/en/personal-kanban

3 reasons why blogging helps research productivity:  http://www.scilogs.com/expiscor/three-reasons-why-blogging-helps-research-productivity/

4 Ways You’re Lying to Yourself About Being Productive: http://www.themuse.com/advice/4-ways-youre-lying-to-yourself-about-being-productive

5 Things You can learn about Productivity from Olympic Athletes: http://lightarrow.com/5-things-can-learn-productivity-olympic-athletes

6 Amazing Social Media Productivity Tools:  http://www.jeffbullas.com/2013/10/04/6-amazing-social-media-productivity-tools/

7 things Star Wars Taught Me about Productivity: http://99u.com/articles/21815/8-things-star-wars-taught-me-about-productivity

8 Ways the Librarian of the Future will keep Themselves Busy http://www.teachthought.com/literacy-2/8-ways-the-librarian-of-the-future-will-keep-themselves-busy/

9 Ways to Use Evernote To Increase Productivity: http://www.smallbiztechnology.com/archive/2014/03/9-ways-to-use-evernote-to-increase-productivity.html/#.UyGpeIWTQyE

10 of the most controversial productivity tips that actually work:  http://blog.bufferapp.com/10-of-the-most-controversial-productivity-tips-you-will-read-today

 

Links Roundup #21

A PhotographerBlog of Interest

Teaching in Higher Ed is a blog on PKM, educational technology, and curation as applied to higher education.  The author is Bonni Stachowiak, who teaches courses in business, marketing, leadership, and human resources at Vanguard University.  Check out, for example, her post Personal Knowledge Management Online Modules and Articles – she teaches PKM as part of classes for doctoral students.

 

Citation/Reference Management

Catherine Pope, in her Digital Researcher blog, has some clear and concise posts on using various tools for academic research.  She has started a series on using Zotero, and one of the posts is How to Insert Citations Using Zotero, on how to insert citations into Word.  Finding articles on how to use particular reference managers is easier than finding articles on adding to your word processor, and I expect the directions are similar for Libre Office and for other reference managers.  I am not fond of Zotero myself, as I and others in my library have found the plug in slows down our computers by a major factor.  Have installed and uninstalled it twice for this reason; however, I know that it is popular with many users.

Decision Matrix

Thorin Klosowski of LifeHacker explains the Important/Urgent decision matrix more clearly than I have seen it explained before.  The difference is that urgent tasks require immediate action, while important tasks are ones that serve long term goals.

Ebooks for Free on Apps and Tools

MakeUseOf, a site I’d like to explore more in my copious spare time, offers free ebooks on computer-related topics, mostly of the how-to-use variety.  It includes guides to most computer operating systems, tablets and smartphones, but also tools we’ve mentioned such as Scrivener, Evernote, IFTTT, Markdown, PHP, tumblr, Feedly, and many more.  I don’t know their quality or currency, but it was recommended on the Scout Report’s best of the year list.  They also have a Top List section, which has the best software for various platforms.  Included is a section for the best Android productivity apps,  and the best iPhone productivity apps.

Evernote/OneNote/Notebook Apps

Whiteboards, Webmeetings, Evernote, and Skitch is one of Jamie Todd Rubin‘s Going Paperless columns.  It shows how he captures screens and whiteboards in meetings and marks them up with Evernote’s Skitch to keep them and be able to search them.

Springpad is a notebook software that is shutting down at the end of June.  Springpad users have created a Google Drive spreadsheet with alternatives, including descriptions and features.

Jamie Todd Rubin‘s post 10 Ways I Used Evernote to Plan and Track Our Kitchen Remodel (part of his Going Paperless series), has, on the surface, nothing to do with academic work.  However, it is an excellent example of the power of notebook software to organize projects, making it well worth a quick perusal .

Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog has a brief but useful post Voice Recognition with Evernote.

IFTTT

IFTTT has introduced an email digest channel.  “The Email Digest Channel is a native IFTTT Channel that collects content and sends you an email digest on a daily or weekly schedule.”  There are plenty of example recipes to get you started.

Microsoft Office

AskBobRankin pointed to two useful sites:  WordTips (Ribbon Interface) and Excel Tips (Ribbon Interface).  Both offer loads of tips for using those programs, are searchable, have tips by category, and offer a weekly newsletter to which one can subscribe.  There is also a similar site for Microsoft Windows tips.

Procrastination

Lifehacker‘s post Set a Procrastination Free Block to Get Important Tasks Done discusses the concept of adding a time to your calendar that is procrastination free.  Start off small and build up to create a habit.

Productivity

Chris Bailey took a year after graduating college to intensively study productivity, and his article discusses 10 Lessons I Learned from A Year of Productivity Experiments.  I like particularly his discussion that productivity results from how well you manage your time, attention, and energy.

A Chrome extension called Dayboard takes an interesting approach to keeping you focused on tasks:  every day you choose five or so goals that are most important to accomplish that day, and in every new tab you open those items are at the top.  Should cut down on distractions!

A blog called Barking up the Wrong Tree, by Eric Barker, lists 6 Things the Most Productive People Do Every Day, taken from an interview with Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-hour Workweek.  While I don’t find much new in the list of 6, it is a nice summary of some very useful productivity tips.  In looking at Barker’s blog, I found another useful post – How to Motivate Yourself: 3 Steps Backed by Science.  He’s right – the hardest part of a task is getting started!

Research Management Tools

Readcube has always been an interesting product, as it adds value to reading a research paper.  For instance, it makes references live links when it can.  Also offers annotation and other features for scholars.  Now they are adding more functionality, according to Readcube Adds More Features to Its Popular Research Management Platform.  It includes SmartCite, for easy citation of papers in a Readcube library, integration with institutional proxies, searching literature within the program, and more.

RSS

Waqas Ahmad on Addictive Tips has an article Blogtrottr Turns RSS Feeds into Email News Letters & Lets You Filter Stories – the title pretty much says it all.  Blogtrottr lets you get email digests of your RSS feeds.

Statistical/Data Analysis

Data is increasingly being used and produced in all academic disciplines, including the sciences, social sciences, AND humanities.  So many academics are learning to use R, an open source and powerful statistical analysis software.  Andrea Zellner in a recent Gradhacker post Learning R has useful tips and tools for getting started.

Team Communication

An announcement by IFTTT that they now have a channel for Slack introduced me to that product which looks like it could serve as an intranet.  It has a freemium model, and looks like the free version could be very useful for educators.  “Slack brings all your communication together in one place. It’s real-time messaging, archiving and search for modern teams.”  It is organized around a good search engine, so you can find any communication, document, etc.  It also integrates with a lot of external services, though the free version limits you to five external integrations.  Among the services are Dropbox, GitHub, Google Drive, Google+ Hangouts, IFTTT, MailChimp, RSS feeds, Trello, Twitter, and Zapier.  The big one I see missing is Evernote.  Please add a comment if you have used it.

Time Management

Francis Wade of 2Time Labs has a library of academic papers relating to time management. The library is arranged with images of the first pages in the format of a slide show.  He and his group do a good job of providing information on time management.  I read his book Bill’s Im-perfect Tiime Management Adventure (and wish that all organizations were run by the principles it discusses) and am looking forward to his next book.

Top 100 Tools for Learning

Voting is now open for the 2014 list, which will be announced September 29th.  This will be the 8th annual survey.  While you are votiing, check out the 2013 list.

Twitter

Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers on academic workflow.  Her article Using Twitter for Research has some wonderful tips for finding Twitter streams for specific academic disciplines as well as other useful tips.

Writing Productively

Kelly Hanson‘s GradHacker post Scheduling Summer Writing integrates a number of academic productivity techniques and tools including setting realistic goals, using calendars and to-do lists for writing goals, and using techniques such as Pomodoro to get writing done.

 

Discipline-Specific Tools: Digital Humanities 3: History

building with poolThis is the third and last, at least for now, post in my series of tools for the digital humanities (DH).  I continue to have the two problems I mentioned in my last post, of there being too many good resources to cover (which, admittedly, can be a good problem to have), and of the fact that DH tools don’t readily fit into one specific discipline.  I’ve divided the last two posts into literature and history, but the tools for one often work for the other as well.  Historians often analyze texts, as do those in literature; literature professors and students are creating maps and timelines as are historians.  So the divisions I’ve created are to a degree arbitrary.

In this post I want to cover tools for mapping, creating timelines, and creating exhibitions. First however, I want to mention a great resource that provides tutorials on tools of use to digital humanists, but with a slant towards historians.  It is The Programming Historian, which offers online, open access, peer-reviewed tutorials to help humanists learn digital tools, techniques, and workflows.  Tutorials are in the categories of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), Data Management, Data Manipulation, Mapping and GIS, Omeka Exhibit Building, Python Programming Basics, Topic Modeling, and Web Scraping.

 Mapping/Geospatial Data

Mapping, often drawing on geospatial data, can create rich representations whether for projects by faculty, graduate students, or undergraduates.  Many of the resources for maps/GIS and timelines have come from J. McClurkan’s Digital Liberal Arts Workshop Links and Resources.

One recent mapping resource is Maphub, a prototype for annotating and georeferencing high quality digital maps.  Take a look at the video on the top page to see all the features, but you can, for example, add annotations from Wikipedia, and open views in Google Earth.  Annotations can be enriched by sources that, for example, add tags for geographic references in other languages.

Naturally, one of biggest map resources is Google Maps.  Usually thought of in a personal context, it can be used in the classroom as well.  HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Google Maps provides a nice introduction to navigating the maps, as does How to Use Google Maps – Navigating Google Maps.

Maplib is another product which allows you to make map images zoomable and searchable, and annotate and share the maps.  It also offers the Maplib integrator, which allows you to host maps on your own site.

Some of these products make a mess of the categories mentioned above.  Neatline, for example is a very nice product that fits into all three categories.  It is a collection of tools that act as plugins for Omeka, the exhibition software, that allows one to add both mapping and timelines to an exhibit.  Take a look at the exhibit on the top Neatline page to see how attractively it can package valuable information.

WorldMap is another excellent mapping tool, this one from Harvard: “Build your own mapping portal and publish it to the world or to just a few collaborators. WorldMap is open source software.”  It allows the user such features as uploading large datasets and using them to create layers, creating and editing maps that can link to media content, sharing to large or small groups, exporting data, using online cartographic tools, and publishing privately or publicly.  Click on view map to see examples, such as this Women In the World map.  See also the FAQ and the Profhacker post Using the WorldMap Platform.

VisualEyes is a multifaceted web authoring tool that brings together maps, charts, video, timelines, and data into compelling educational resources.  It was developed at the Virginia Center for Digital History, and unsurprisingly tends to be heavy on resources about Thomas Jefferson, to the extent that the narrator of the project on the top page says that the project one year took a break from all things Jefferson.

Timelines

Up until the digital age, timelines were labors of love, time consuming, if one will forgive the pun.  These days tools make it possible for anyone who can do basic html to create visually handsome timelines. Simile Widgets is open source software that arose from the Simile Project at MIT, and houses widgets primarily for data visualization.  One of those widgets is Timeline, which creates interactive timelines.  Brian Croxall, a digital humanities professor at Emory, created an excellent tutorial, Build Your Own Interactive Timeline.  It uses the timeline and exhibit widgets from Simile, and Google spreadsheets to create the timelines.

Timeline JS is another project that can be created from a Google Spreadsheet or the more complex JSON software.  It can bring in media from a variety of social media including Twitter, Flickr, Google Maps, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Wikipedia, and more.  Amy Cavender in a Profhacker post on the software points to good features such as its easy inclusion of BC dates and that it resizes properly in responsive web designs.

Another winner in the cross-category stakes is TimeMapper,  which combines timelines and mapping (Doh!).  It is open source,  and came from an Open Knowledge Foundation project.   It is built on other open source software such as Timeline JS, and,  like several of the other programs mentioned in this post,  uses a Google spreadsheet to power the resulting display (see Croxall’s tutorial on Simile as an example).

Mapstory, like TimeMapper,  also includes both timelines and mapping,  but looks quite different.  Basically it is an animated map built on data, so you see the map change as the time and data change.  It is nice, but hard to design well…sometimes the data are slow to move, creating a map that is about as exciting as watching paint dry.  For a good example, see the mapstory of Olympic gold medal wins (note that it keeps running on a loop once you click play until you click stop play):

 

Exhibitions

For the most part, only one software is mentioned by academics for creating exhibitions, and it is Omeka.  It is beloved by all kinds of archivists, but it is easy enough to use that it has become a teaching tool – for example, a final assignment in an undergraduate course might be to create an Omeka exhibit.  Omeka is open source software from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.  Profhacker has discussed Omeka in more than one post.  For example, see a post introducing it and a followup on using it in the classroom.  For an idea of what it can do, take a look at the introductory video:

 

For more examples of what Omeka can do, see the showcase page.

Conclusions

For a field that only hit the tipping point a few years ago, the Digital Humanities is now producing a wonderful set of (mostly open source) tools that allow the creation of an even richer set of content, packaged attractively to draw in the reader.  There is now so much material on  DH that even in three posts I can only cover some of best resources and tools that I have found (see the first post for general resources), and only a couple of subdisciplines, literature and history, rather than the full range of humanities.  I find that I am envious of students who are exposed to such a wonderful array of tools they can use in assignments, and faculty who have new ways to add value to the academic corpus.

Works Cited

Cavender, A. (2013).  Easy Timelines with Timelines JS. Profhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Croxall, B. (n.d).  Build Your Own Interactive Timeline. Brian Croxall, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Lawson, K.M.  (2014).  Add Space and Time to Your Omeka ExhibitsProfhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Lawson, K.M. (2014).  Using the WorldMap PlatformProfhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

McClurken, J. (2014)  Digital Liberal Arts Workshop Links and Resources.    Google Docs.

McClurken, J. (2010).  Teaching with OmekaProfhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Meloni, J. (2010).  A Brief Introduction to OmekaProfhacker, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Nations, D.  (n.d).  How to Use Google Maps – Navigating Google MapsWeb Trends About.com, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Van Grove, J. (2008)  How to: Get the Most Out of Google MapsMashable, retrieved June 29, 2014.

Personal Digital Archiving Train the Trainer Workshop in Georgia

We are passing along this invitation from a colleague to a workshop.  Please do contact the people mentioned in the invitation if you are interested:

You’re invited: Personal Digital Archiving Train-the-Trainer Workshop from SGA, ARMA, and GLA

The Society of Georgia Archivists, the Atlanta chapter of ARMA International, and the Georgia Library Association invite you to attend a train-the-trainer workshop on Personal Digital Archiving. Designed for information professionals from all backgrounds and levels of experience, this workshop will empower participants to see themselves as archivists of their own digital records and will cover topics ranging from best practices for creating digital records and rights issues in the digital landscape to strategies for storing digital records and emerging developments regarding the digital afterlife.

After completing the workshop, attendees will be encouraged to teach the workshop to their users–the public, co-workers, students, etc.–in their own diverse institutional contexts. The end goal of the workshop will thus be to advocate for informational professionals as a source of expertise for assisting individuals (the public, family members, students, corporate employees, etc.) with their personal digital archiving needs.

The workshop will be held at the Georgia Archives in Morrow on Thursday, 7/31, from 10:00 AM – noon, and will be free to attend. Space limited to 25 participants. If you would like to secure a space in the workshop, please RSVP to outreach@soga.org by 7/17/2014.

Workshop facilitators:
Oscar Gittemeier, Youth Services Librarian, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, East Atlanta Branch
Wendy Hagenmaier, Digital Collections Archivist, Georgia Tech Archives, SGA Outreach Manager
Michelle Kirk, Records Manager, VP Corporate Records and Information Management, SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Please forward widely!

Wendy Hagenmaier
SGA Outreach Manager
Digital Collections Archivist
Georgia Institute of Technology Archives
outreach@soga.org

 

 

Book Review: Curation Nation by Steven Rosenbaum

For today’s blog, I’d like to take a break from the discussion of content curation tools in order to review a key book in the development of the content curation movement. In 2011, Steven Rosenbaum wrote Curation Nation: How to Win in a World Where Consumers are Creators. While his intended audience is for-profit internet entrepreneurs, the book offers a good grounding in the breadth of the content curation arena. Arianna Huffington, co-founder and chief editor for the Huffington Post calls Rosenbaum an “evangelist for the transformational power of curation done right — acknowledging the power of creation while respecting the rules of the road. Curation Nation combines a true believer’s passion with a clear-eyed practicality, and the result is an indispensable guide to the brave new media world.”

Rosenbaum does not intend the book to be a “how to” manual for content curation. You won’t find step-by-step guides to creating your Scoop.It account, or a comparison of the key features of Scoop.It to Storify. Instead, he offers up a valuable grounding of the importance of curation for publishers, brand marketers – virtually any entrepreneur hoping to launch a successful web-based venture.

Rosenbaum begins by describing what curation is. Curation, he asserts, was developed because of “our need to be able to find information in coherent, reasonably contextual groupings.” (p5) The Online Etymology Dictionary describes the roots of the term “curation” as “a taking care, attention, management” Indeed, when one thinks of a museum curator, for example, the image of an individual who is taking special care of his collection immediately comes to mind. Likewise, content curator takes on the responsibility for making sense of the content he captures online, providing a thoughtful collection for others.

Rosenbaum tells a number of stories throughout his book and introduces a number of interesting individuals. One of the best definitions for this new job of a content curator that he shares is from the 2009 Manifesto/Job Description of Content Curator by Rohit Bhargava (p. 14) who states: “The future of the social web will be driven by these Content Curators, who take it upon themselves to collect and share the best content online for others to consume and take on the role of citizen editors, publishing highly valuable compilations of content created by others.”

For several early chapters, Rosenbaum illustrates the history of curation by discussing various types of curation, from the Dewey Decimal system, to Reader’s Digest to Huffington Post to Shawn Collins who runs one of the advertising industry’s biggest networking conferences. This makes for entertaining reading and provides a broader view of content curation, taking us past the details of how we can best use Scoop.It to curate blog entries from around the web, and instead giving us a chance to step by and consider the big picture of information and how it is created and spread in the world.

Rosenbaum believes that in order to successfully implement content curation in a business, there are three major areas of focus: the publishing end, advertising (or affiliate marketing) and syndication, or spreading your message in such a way that it draws new consumers to your site. Blogging remains the core of content curation. Rosenbaum explains: “Blogging and curation are like parts of a set of Russian nesting dolls, with individual bloggers increasingly becoming link gatherers and curators.”(p161) So, if all these individual bloggers on one side and the affiliate marketers and businesses on the other are all creating and curating content, how are we going to keep the web from being just one giant, mixed-up, unruly mess of content like the old days of the Wild West? That, Rosenbaum says, is where content strategy comes in! Created by Kristina Halvorson in her book Content Strategy, we need to plan for not only the creation and curation of content, but also to step back and define why this content is valuable to publish in the first place, where it would be most effective, and how we will take care of it over the long haul.

So what is my opinion of the book Curation Nation? I found it an interesting read with many anecdotes and factoids about well-known businesses such as Huffington Post and Pepsi-Cola and their DEWmocracy campaign to name only a few. It was a good book for the discussion of the theory behind content curation, its effect on business and the development of the web today. It did tend to ramble a bit, and there were some claims the author made that I felt were totally off base. “Search is dead. It’s over. Done. Gone” (p252) His grand example “proving” this was a Google Image Search of his own name which brought back a number of different people and.. a dog? Isn’t he just proving that either the searcher is not expert enough with his searching capability or the search engine is not robust enough? At least, that is the answer that cries out from the librarian in me. But I am only one person. Read Curation Nation for yourself and make your own opinion. At the very least it will encourage you to start a conversation with someone about it.  You can also listen to the TED talk that Rosenbaum did at TEDxGrandRapids.