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.

Links Roundup #20

A PhotographerComputer Coding for Web Design and Development

Bento is a curated guide to the best resources for web design.  Robin Good describes it on Scoop.it:

Bento is a website that, thanks to its author Jon Chan and the many user contributions, has gathered, organized and curated the very best resources available online where you can learn how to code.

From html to javascript, ruby, php, Java, perl, Bento offers learning guidance for over 80 different technologies and coding languages.

Great resources for those who need an introduction to coding for the web.

Citation Management

Docear (pronounced dogear) is a reference manager/mind mapping software which is a totally rewrite of SciPlore.  It now has a user manual, so even more worth taking a look.

Digital Workflows

Although my library is predominantly Windows, Francis Hittinger on Columbia’s Butler Library Blog has started an exciting series Digital Workflows for Academic Research on the Mac.  It starts with an introductory post, then one on PDF Management, and Sente for PDF Management.  Looks like the best way to follow the series is by selecting the Francis Hittinger link above.

Evernote/OneNote/Notebook Software

A lot of people are re-evaluating whether to use OneNote now it has added some features and is free.  Lifehacker has an article Migrate Your Data from Evernote to OneNote with This Tool, which discusses a third party tool to export data from Evernote to OneNote, since OneNote doesn’t itself support such an import.

Michael Hyatt has written extensively on Evernote, and has a post that links to all his posts on Evernote.  He also has a category on his blog for Productivity posts.

Eric Griffith‘s 20 Tips Every Evernote User Must Know is a good introduction to Evernote.  Yeah, I know I mention a lot of similar posts, but since the program changes constantly it is always nice to have an up-to-date article.  This one also captures the essence of Evernote better than most.  Show this to someone you want to introduce to Evernote.

Mickey of the BLOSSOMING-Fledgling Researcher has created something marvelous for academic researchers.  It is a downloadable OneNote Binder Tailored for Academic Researchers and Writers.  Take a look at the video to see some of the features, but it provides a great place for researchers to start organizing.

Evernote, LinkedIn Team Up to Tackle Business Cards – this post from Rachel King on ZDNet discusses a recent partnership by the two companies to make electronic capture of business cards easier.  Taking a picture of a business card in Evernote will prompt LinkedIn to open.  iOS support now, Android support promised.  Also see the official Evernote blog post, and just to be obsessively complete, the LinkedIn blog post.

Julio Ojeda-Zapata provides yet another OneNote vs. Evernote article, now that OneNote is available on so many operating systems.  It is amusing, after reading several of these articles, to see how people respond so differently to the two.  Mr. Ojeda-Zapata is a major Evernote user, so comes down on the side of it as the better of the two, mainly because of the Evernote web clipper.  Your mileage may vary.

Google Drive

Mashable’s 8 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Google Drive discusses features that aren’t obvious unless you know about them.  For example, I didn’t know you could crop photos with Drive.

IFTTT

IFTTT now has an Android app as well as an iOS app.

The Big List of IFTTT Recipes: 34 Hacks for Social Media Productivity – this post from Buffer by Kevan Lee is one of the better articles I’ve seen on recipes you can create with IFTTT.

Organizing Conference/Meeting Notes

David Lee King was at Computers in Libraries recently, as were Crystal and I.  In the post Taking Useful Notes at a Conference, he discusses ideas for making the notes taken at a conference and in a meeting more useful.

Personal Learning Networks (PLNs)

Howard Rheingold via Chuck Frey, gives an excellent overview of how to create and maintain a PLN in How to Cultivate a Personal Learning Network:  Tips from Howard Rheingold.

Productivity Tools

ProfHacker is doing a series of posts called Back to the Basics which revisits foundational productivity tools.  A recent one is Back to the Basics: The Urgent/Important Matrix, discussing Stephen Covey’s four quadrant matrix that ranks activities as to how urgent and how important they are.  The previous post in the series is Back to the (GTD) Basics: The Two-Minute Rule.

 Reference Management

The post In the Year E+1: A Mendeley Update Victor Henning, one of the founders of Mendeley, discusses what has happened since Mendeley’s acquisition by Elsevier.  The main item of interest to me is that they are increasing Mendeley’s integration with Scopus, Science Direct, and SciVal.

Smartpens

Smartpens Wise Up is a brief article from Ask Bob Rankin that serves as a useful introduction to smartpens.  I keep mentioning smartpens because I think they are great for students.

Software

Ask Bob Rankin has a column GO FREE! Replace Your Paid Software!  It discusses alternatives to Microsoft Office and Outlook, Anti-virus software, backup, personal finance, photo/graphics creation and editing, and operating systems.

Stress Management

Mother Jones recent article Are You Checking Work Email in Bed? At the Dinner Table?  On Vacation? discusses the stress that comes from always being connected to work electronically.  Two small studies – one of employees unplugging nights, weekends, and vacations – and the other on being totally unplugged showed no decrease in productivity while considerable reductions in stress levels.

Task Automation

Belle Beth Cooper published an article The Beginner’s Guide to Putting the Internet to Work for You:  How to Easily Save 60 Minutes a Day.  She mentions IFTTT, Zapier, Alfred, and Keyboard Maestro.  The latter two are Mac only.

Text Editors

The Lifehacker post Five Best Text Editors is the result of votes from readers.  Text editors are useful for writing computer code and for distraction free writing of any kind.

Text Recognition from Images

ProfHacker has a post Grabbing Text from Images with Project Naptha, about the Chrome browser extenstion Project Naptha to do basic optical character recognition (OCR) on web images.

To-Do Lists

Todoist is a task management software.  Lifehacker, in a recent post, discusses new features such as adding attachments, photos, and voice notes.  These features are free only if you have shared a project with someone else, otherwise they are part of the premium subscription which is $20 per year.

Karol K. of the blog New Internet Order has a useful post 1 Simplistically Simple Way to Simplify Your To-Do List that discusses using paper (which I disagree with for my personal system), but having no more than 5 goals to achieve in one day.  That sounds like a truly valuable idea.

Video Annotation

Adeline Koh in ProfHacker writes a review of Vidbolt, which allows one or more people to make comments on YouTube videos.  She is excited about using it in class assignments, but I can see it also might be useful to librarians creating tutorials or other library-related videos.

Writing Apps

Thorin Klosowski writes an excellent roundup of writing tools for Lifehacker in The Best Apps for Any Kind of Writing.  Included are tools for any kind of writing (Microsoft Word), Novelists (Scrivener, Ulysses III), Distraction-Free Writing (FocusWriter), Screenplays (Final Draft, Fade In, Trelby), Editing (Hemingway, Marked 2, Phraseology), and Journaling (Day One, RedNotebook), Writing on the iPad (Editorial), and Writing on an Android Tablet (Write).  We’ve mentioned before that a lot of academics like Scrivener.

 

 

Discipline-specific Tools Series: Digital Humanities, pt. 2 – Literature

Illuminated ManuscriptThis is the second in my series of posts on tools for different disciplines.  The first was on the digital humanities (DH) and covered general resources for getting started in DH.  I planned for this second post to be more about DH as it relates to literature, and will try to keep it so, but I have run into some problems,  which I will tell you about because those problems shape this article.

The first problem is that, for a relatively new topic, there is so much out there!  I could probably find enough to write on for a year!  However, it means that there are many good resources that I either did not find or don’t have space to cover.

The second problem is that DH is called DH for a reason.  The humanities are quite intertwined with each other.  Literature and history overlap quite a bit as in the history of a great literary figure or the impact of a book or author on historical events – for example, the impact of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin on the U.S. Civil War.  As the digital humanities have progressed, it seems that the tools for one overlap with the tools for the other.  Timelines, mapping, text encoding, textual analysis, etc. are used by both literary studies and history – and for other hunanities/social science disciplines. Therefore, I am going to start by discussing some directories of tools.specific to digital humanities (especially if they have a lot of tools for literary studies), then give some examples to illustrate uses of the tools.

As always, the first recommendation is for Bamboo DiRT, an extensive directory of tools in many categories that was established for DH scholars (though is useful for all academic researchers).  We’ve covered DiRT before, so won’t discuss it more now.

Next there are a couple of directories that were developed by professors and students in DH classes, and that have influenced each other.  My favorite of the two is Digital Humanities Resources for Student Project-Building, curated by Alan Liu.  It has pages for Guides, Tutorials, Tools, Examples, and Data Collections and Datasets.  The front page gives the scope:  “This selection is not intended to be comprehensive and is under continual development.  Selections are biased toward free tools or tools with generous trial periods available for student use”.  All of the pages are well done.  It is the tools page of most interest, however, and it is well-organized and easy to read.  It starts by listing other directories of tools, then lists selected tools in the categories Animation & Storyboarding, Audio Tools; Authoring/Annotation; Content Management Systems; Crowdsourcing; Design; Exhibition/Collection; Mapping; Modeling & Simulation; Network/Social Network Analysis; Statistics; Text Analysis; Text Collation; Text Preparation; Topic Modeling; Video; Video and Film Analysis; Visual Programming; Visualization (with subcategories General; Diagrams & Graphs; Infographics; Network viz; Text viz; Time Lines; and Twitter viz); and Deformance Tools.  A red checkmark by a tool indicates “Currently a tool that is prevalent, canonical, or has “buzz” in the digital humanities community” while a blue check mark indicates “Other tools with high power or general application (some caveats may apply for scholarly use)“.  Each tool has a sentence-long description, and there are even links to tutorials for a few of them.  Excellent site!

The similar page mentioned above is Digital Textualtity Resource Pages, created by Kim Knight and students in her Digital Textuality classes.  The pages below the top one are:  Text Production Resources Index; Visualization Resources Index; Image Resources Index; Sound Resources Index; and Video and Animation Resources Index.  Each of those pages follows the same format of first offering examples, then further reading/information, and lastly the list of tools.  Most of the tool names are links with a red checkmark overlaid with “Reviewed”.  The link for the tool name then goes to a review of that tool.  Most of the tool listings have a sentence-long description of the tool and a link to the tool’s website.  The reviews may be the most valuable part of the site, as the few existing directories of tools mostly lack that excellent feature.

Another directory of tools is TAPoR (which stands for Text Analysis Portal for Research), a collaboration between several Canadian groups, and is often referenced by DH scholars.  “TAPoR is a gateway to the tools used in sophisticated text analysis and retrieval.”  Further self-description includes:

With TAPoR 2.0 you can:

  • Discover text manipulation, analysis, and visualization tools
  • Discover historic tools
  • Read tool reviews and recommendations
  • Learn about papers, articles and other sources about specific tools
  • Tag, comment, rate and review collaboratively

The front page has a “Featured Tool” rotating spotlight, with boxes underneath for Popular Tools, User Recommended Tools, and Random Tools.  In the upper right is the category breakdown for the tools with a number beside each category that is the number of tools listed in each.  The categories are All; New; Concording; Miscellaneous; Statistical; Text Gathering; Reviewed; Popular; Editing; Search; Text Cleaning; and Visualization.  Each tool entry has the name of the tool, a link to its site, a link to its author(s), and a paragraph description.  To the left is a screen shot of the tool in action.  Clicking on the screen shot will bring up the review, which is the above information plus a 3 column table with more information. Under the Documentation heading are links to its documentation page, date created, and latest update.  The next column is labeled Attributes and includes background processing, ease of use, popularity, type of analysis, type of license, warning, and whether it is web usable or not.  The last column is for user-supplied tags.  Below the table is a space for comments, which may include ratings.  Personally, I think the user design of the site would be improved by having the review as a link under the links to the site and author(s) rather than a link from the screen shot.  Another problem is that many of the tools listed are historical and no longer active.  While I am all for history (having a couple of degrees in the subject), the historical tools should be more clearly marked and a category added for active.  Another possibility might be having a star by the name of each active tool.  Even in the category New there are a couple of historical tools, which might confuse some users looking for current tools.    Otherwise TAPoR is a marvelous resource for scholars looking for tools relating to textual analysis.

A llisting of tool directories can be rather dry.  However, the results of using the tools themselves can illustrate how these tools serve scholarship.

One example is Lincoln Logarithms from Emory University.  It uses four different tools to analyze a corpus of 57 of the sermons preached following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  The four tools, with a description, screenshot, and outcome, are listed on separate pages:  Text Mining with Voyant; Topic Analysis with MALLET; Visualizing with Paper Machines; and Mapping with Viewshare.  Each page is not lengthy, but gives a good example of what each tool can do and what information they provide.

Lincoln Logarithms Website

Another example is Literary New Orleans, a WordPress site that maps New Orleans neighborhoods.  The map has pictures of authors and filmmakers whose work depicts New Orleans.  Click on the pictures and two boxes pop up.  One has the artist and his/her work, and the other lists secondary works about the artist.  Underneath the map is a timeline of the artists.

Literary New Orleans MapNext in this series weill be a post on Digital Humanties with a focus on tools used in history.  Please add comments on tools you have found useful!

 

 

 

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Content Curation Tools 1: ScoopIt!

This is the second in an intermittent series of posts I plan to write on the topic of content curation. You can see the first post introducing the content curation concept here.

scoopit_logo

Official Logo for Scoop.it! Check this awesome tool out at http://www.scoop.it/

Today I’d like to continue our discussion by exploring one of the more popular tools for content curation: Scoop.it!.

Leanna Johnson (Learning with Technology)  states, “In a culture of content overload, members that provide great content to their audience will be recognized leaders in network communities.” From our position as academic librarians, we not only have to think about the way we share our insights from our research to our own networks, we also have a role in carrying this message and tool expertise to the faculty and students of our university as we help them to become more effective researchers and networkers in their disciplines.

So if providing great content is critical in our networked world, what are the best tools to use for our content? The answer of choice used to be simply writing a blog. This is still a valuable way to discuss topics in depth; however, for many, the appeal for a vehicle or vehicles to pass along valuable content quickly and easily is strong. Scoop.it! appeals to these individuals on many fronts:

• It is very visual, with scoops actually showing the graphic of the original source along with a portion of the source content giving it a sort of magazine-like feel.
• It is very easy and users can begin scooping information within minutes.
• The structure of topics allows the curator the ability to group items of interest together into meaningful collections.
• It is social and socially connected. Not only can users with accounts follow other curator’s topics, they can suggest items to other curators and re-scoop items from other boards onto their own boards. Scoop.it also can connect their topics with their twitter, WordPress, Linkedin, Google+ and Yammer accounts (just to name a few) and simultaneously post to all their networks at once.
• It is free… if you can limit your needs to just two main topics, and only connect to a maximum of two social media accounts. (There are also for fee Pro, Business and Educators versions)
• Individual Topics all have their own permanent URL, making RSS feeds possible.
• It follows the recommender model with a search feature that can(and should!) be carefully customized by the curator to specific search terms, sites, twitter feeds, videos, etc so as to allow only the most appropriately targeted items to be filtered through for consideration.
• The bookmarklet makes scooping items from the web quick and painless.

I have two Scoop.it topics myself. I will freely admit that I was originally treating Scoop.it like a bookmarking application on steroids. In the beginning, I rarely added any “insight” to my scoops. Since I liked looking at the topics of other scoopers and tended to go to the source document of an interesting scoop, I was mostly using Scoop.it as a recommender service and holding place for what I discovered. This is NOT content curation; it is more content aggregation. Content curation requires that valuable insight be passed along with the original scoop item. I listed a few of my favorite scoop.it curators at the end of this post so you could see how the experienced content creators really use Scoop.it as a tool. That being said, I have now begun adding comments regarding why I was scooping a particular item as well as some key highlights to my Academic Workflow topic.  So, I’m learning and evolving right along with the rest of you.

Who else among our readers have been using Scoop.it? Share your topic links, tips and experiences with the rest of us. Also, a question that I have asked several other curators, but not yet really gotten an answer that would work for me: What tool DO you use as your content aggregator until you have time to read items and make insightful comments on them?

I hope to continue this series on Content Curation in the coming months. There are a few books on the topic I’d like to review (once I have a chance to finish them!), and a few other tools I’d like to cover from the aspect of using them for the purpose of content curation. What would you like to hear about? Send us your ideas and I’ll do my best to try to address them in future posts.

 

A Few Excellent Scoop.it curators to follow as you get started:

Kenneth Mikkelsen: Personal Knowledge Mastery

Robin Good: Content Curation World

Guillaume Decugis – Scoop.it Founder and CEO

 

Scoop.it! Glossary of Terms:

Bookmarklet: This piece of code is loaded (dragged) onto a browser’s bookmark toolbar. It allows the curator to quickly “scoop” an item from a webpage that he encounters during his normal web activities and post it onto his curated topic on scoop.it.

Curator: An individual who has a Scoop.it account and maintains one or more Scoop.it topics.

Interest Channels: This new top layer of organization was added with Scoop.it version 4 changes. Interest Channels are collections of the best curated topics on each of the categories predetermined by the Scoop.it developers. The right to have a topic included into one of the Interest channels is “won” based on regular, high-quality items added to the topic, recommendations for your topic all factored into a scoop.it algorithm.

My Community: Each curator has his own community made up of the other curators which own the scoop.it topics that he follows.

Reactions: A reaction is a comment or notification attached to an individual scoop. Reactions can be found with the “Reactions” link at the bottom left-hand corner of each individual scoop.

Recommendations: Recognized scoop.it experts in the field can “recommend” a curator’s topic. Individual recommendations translate into better rankings for your topic within Interest Channel and regular scoop.it searches and “badges” (silver, gold, etc) which are displayed with your topic title.

Scoop: A scoop is a secondary level of information, assigned to a selected topic by a scoop.it curator. A scoop is an individual news item, blog entry, webpage, etc. that a person stores to her topic of interest. For the better curators, it includes a snippet of the original item and the curator’s personal insight and comments about the item. The reader will click through the link to the entire original item at its site of origin if he wants to read the entire source.

Topic: The primary level of organization on Scoop.it, sometimes also referred to as a ‘page’. Curators define their personal topics, which serve as the main buckets for collecting curated scoops. Each Topic is assigned a unique, permanent URL and RSS feed.

 

For Further Exploration:

Asghar, Rob. The Rise Of The Smart Web: New Hope For Finding Your Audience, FORBES, 08/02/2013.

Bagla, Sarvesh. Scoop.it: A New World of Curation Infographic

Burrough, Sam. Supercharge your Scoop.it Suggestions, 9 minute video:

Decugis, Guillaume. “5 ways to increase the visibility of your content on Scoop.it”, 02/12/2014

Sannino, Gabriella. Scoop This: A Comprehensive Guide, Search Engine Journal, 01/20/2012:

Scoop.It’s Knowledge Base

Scoop it! – A Curation Tool & 5 Great Education Technology Scoops, EdTechReview, 3/5/2013.

Links Roundup #19

A PhotographerBlogs of Interest

Russell Stannard’s Blog is by a British educator who discusses educational technology and language learning.  He talks about various technologies useful at the college level as well as K-12.  He also has the site Teacher Training Videos, which include tutorials on a variety of useful edtech tools.  I looked at the videos for WallWisher (now Padlet), for example, and thought the tutorials were well done, though very simple in design and execution.

Crystal found another blog of interest, The BLOSSOMING-Fledgling Researcher.  The description is “A recovering writing-phobe’s musings on academic writing methodology, academic writing software, and the psychology of post-graduate level writing. Research and writing DO get better. LET’S DO THIS!”  It includes pages for Starting and Staying Organized, Accountability/Focus, Research Design Aids/Tips, and more.  The content looks excellent.

Brainstorming

Stormboard is a brainstorming app covered in Free Technology for Teachers.  Allows an unlimited number of boards with 5 collaborators on each.  Includes templates for use in education, and allows sticky notes, images, videos, drawings, and word documents on boards.

Citation Tools

New tools for citing information turn up all the time.  Free Technology for Teachers has a roundup of a few of the latest with 5 Tools that Help Students Organize Research and Create Bibliographies.  I like that a few of them do more than help with citations.  On my library’s guide to Citation Styles, Tutorials, and Tools I have created separate pages for tools for undergraduates and graduate students/faculty, as they differ in needs.  The undergrad page list tools that are easiest to use and automatically capture information, while the grad/faculty page offers the most full-featured tools.

Computers in Libraries 2014 Conference

If you enjoyed our recap of CIL 2014 and want more, check out the other bloggers and  archived twitter feed.  The conference hashtag, by the way, was #cildc.  Some of the best blogging came from Jill Hurst-Wahl (loved her presentation, by the way, on brainstorming) in her Digitization 101 blog, and Don Hawkins (not mentioned on the bloggers page), who works for Information Today and blogs about their conferences.

Distraction Cessation

This might be one to share with your students, or use yourself if you are working in a noisy area – GradHacker post on Eight Noise Apps to Battle Distraction.

LifeHacker has a post on Five Best Distraction Free Writing Tools.  Not only discusses each tool, but gives results of a poll with votes for the best.  Tools covered were FocusWriter, WriteMonkey, OmmWriter, Q10, and WriteRoom.  It was a 2010 article, but referred to by a recent article on another tool, ZenPen.

Email Productivity

LifeHacker has a good tip in Treat Your Email Like Tetris: One Action at a Time.  It recommends deciding whether to reply, delete, delegate, or save on each email before moving on to the next one (basically the Getting Things Done philosophy).  I know my email gets clogged with items I plan to go back to later, and this is excellent advice to help me with a too-crowded inbox.

Jill Duffy has another excellent Get Organized column for those of you who use GMail.  Tricks for a Better Gmail Inbox.  At the bottom, she has links to other columns on managing email.  Note also that she is offering her Get Organized ebook for free.

Evernote/OneNote

There have been a slew of articles comparing Evernote and OneNote lately, due to OneNote now being offered for free.  Preston Gralla has a Computerworld article OneNote vs. Evernote: A Personal Take on Two Great Note-taking Apps, in which he compares his experience using both and discusses what he thinks are the strengths and weaknesses of each.

And LifeHacker jumped into the comparison of OneNote and Evernote game with LifeHacker Faceoff: OneNote Versus Evernote.  Also a good roundup of pros and cons of each platform.  All these articles are not too repetitive – they all organize their discussion points and features differently.

Evernote OCR: A Quick Look is a longish post whose purpose is to point out that Evernote OCR (optical character recognition) isn’t perfect yet, but still useful.

Jamie Todd Rubin has a useful post in his Going Paperless series Quick Tip:  Editing Scanned PDFs Directly in Evernote.  For now this is only in the Mac version.

TabTimes has a review of Microsoft OneNote for the iPad, and finds it an excellent product.

Office Blogs has a post OneNote for Android Update: Create Notebooks, Sections, and More.  Screenshots included.

Just for Fun:  Microsoft OneNote Team Creates a Parody of Les Miserables Song Celebrating Their OneNote Mac Launch.

Getting Things Done (GTD)

Lifehacker published an article Productivity 101: A Primer to the Getting Things Done (GTD) Philosophy.  Excellent introduction to GTD.

Google Docs and Sheets Add-Ons

ProfHacker has a blog post All Things Google: Add-Ons for Docs and Sheets, which discusses Add-Ons and how they work.  They reference a blog post from Google on the topic, and one of the add-ons is academic gold – the Easybib bibliography generator.

Group Project Management

ProfHacker has a post Software and Services for Managing Group Tasks.  Author Konrad Lawson mentions that he has used Producteev and lists the features he likes, but also lists features that one might consider before deciding on a group task management software.

Microsoft Office

Microsoft has released a free mobile app for iOS and Android which allows viewing and some editing via OneDrive, which does not require an Office 365 subscription.

Office for iPad Review: Microsoft Delivers Three Outstanding Apps – review from TabTimes.

Online Course Apps

Coursera, one of the sites offering online courses or MOOCs, now has iOS and Android apps.  My place of work offers courses, including its classes for an online master’s degree (not free but less expensive than an in-campus course) and those courses are listed.

PDF Management

TabTimes has an article 6 Best Android and iPad Apps for Converting Files to PDFs.  Some apps can convert all sorts of things, including emails, web pages, and more.  TabTimes does have a newsletter that is specifically about tablets in education, which is my source for this article.

Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites blog has a post that reviews the software program Nuance Power PDF Advanced.  The post describes the features available, gives pros and cons.  The upshot is that Power PDF Advanced is a well-designed program at a third of the price of Adobe Acrobat.

Productivity

The ever-useful, ever-organized Jill Duffy has a wonderful article in PCMag –  55 Apps that Can Make You More Productive.  Covers quite a few I had not heard of.

Scott Hanselman’s Complete List of Productivity Tips is a blog post about a talk Hanselman gave.  Has a lot of good productivity tips that in themselves aren’t anything new, but are a complete workflow strategy that makes a lot of sense.  Hanselman is a programmer with Microsoft’s Web Platform Team, but his blog contents and opinions are his own.  The blog has a category for Productivity.

GradHacker has another excellent post, this one by Emily VanBuren, Taking It One Step At a Time: Breaking Apart Big Tasks.  It discusses both concepts and tools for managing large tasks by scheduling smaller component tasks and keeping to the schedule.

 Reading Skills

Ari Miesel has an article in Daily Beast The Best Apps for Developing Sherlock Holmes-like Reading Skills.  Apps discussed include IFTTT, Feedly, Evernote, Blinkist, Rooster, SoundGecko, and Daily Lit.  Note that not all of these are free.

 Task Automation

Zapier is a task automation service similar to IFTTT.  Journalism.co.uk has an introduction to it, Tool for Journalists:  Zapier, for Automating Web Apps.  The free version includes a lot more services available than IFTTT, but limits you to five recipes.