Pinterest

Finally, I can say I started using Pinterest. Obviously, I had been reading about it, and had looked at other people’s pin boards and made good use of them. I also set up an account months ago and dabbled a bit. But I have to admit I was still more hooked to Delicious as a tool to create online libraries and was uncertain whether Pinterest would provide me with real added value. Especially now that Delicious has become much more visual as well.  Now I can say I got it.

Organise saved links in pin boards (Eric Sheninger)

Organise saved links in pin boards (Eric Sheninger)

Like in Delicious, you can save links in an organised way. In Pinterest this organisation is called a pin board, in Delicious it is a stack. Like in Delicious nowadays, these links are shown in a visual way: you get a one picture preview. The difference is, that you can save all links in Delicious whereas Pinterest needs a “pinnable” element on the location you want to link to. Not all sites have such elements, but there is a way around that, see below.

Example of a pin (Eric Sheninger)

Example of a pin (Eric Sheninger)

Both tools allow you to add a short description of the link, so that other people are able to see if this link may be interesting for them before clicking on it. In Delicious you can also tag your saved links, making it easier for visitors and yourself to select even within a stack which links might be useful. As far as I can see, this is not yet possible in Pinterest.

Like Delicious, Pinterest is a social media tool. Meaning that you can make your own profile and follow what other people do. You can re-pin pins saved by others. And you can comment and discuss.

Both tools allow for very easy saving of links, by adding an element to your bookmarking menu (“Save on Delicious” or “Pin It”.)

Both tools can be used in class and for trainings; sharing background materials in one location, collaborating in a group on this collection, etc.

So what is the added value of Pinterest that I truly realised only just now?

Go to the Add button on the top and upload a pin!

Go to the Add button on the top and upload a pin!

Easy! Pinterest allows you to upload your own content, too.  Content that is not online and thus does not have a link to bookmark. You can make pins out of your pictures, infographics and screenshots.  That way, your pin board can become a collection of links and photos, instead of just a library of links. This aspect is also the key to including links without so-called pinnable elements. You can make a screenshot of part of the page, upload it as a pin, and add the link afterwards.

Add a link to a screenshot of a site with unpinnable elements

Add a link to a screenshot of a site with unpinnable elements

This combination of links and own materials makes it, for example, possible to create a pin board relating to a certain event or activity that you have organised. You could collect all press releases, media clippings, photos and videos about the event in one pin board. That way, both people who were there and people who weren’t can easily see what went on and find all related materials in one publicly accessible place.

But, like Eric Sheninger, you can also create a pin board sharing methodsWeb2.0 Tools for Educators.

Possibilities are endless. And although I am sure I will continue using Delicious, I will definitely start using Pinterest more actively than I have.

So, just get started like I finally did and see how you like it!

Example of a pin board about an event

Example of a pin board about an event

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Short Guide to Delicious

I wrote about Delicious before, and I do not want to repeat myself telling you how useful I find this social bookmarking tool. However, Delicious has changed a bit in how it looks and functions since I blogged about it, so in this post I will focus on how it works now.

Delicious is a tool you can use to bookmark web pages for yourself. You can tag them with key words or phrases so that you can find them back more easily later on. In order to do this, you need to set up a Delicious account.

Without account

Starting page of Delicious with search box

Starting page of Delicious with search box

But even without account you can search what others have bookmarked with a certain tag. For instance, if you would want to find all bookmarked links related to the IAF Netherlands conference in 2012, you could search for the tag IAFNL12.

 

If you would do that, you would find the following overview in which you can see the tag you searched for, along with other tags used to bookmark these links (all underneath the links), you could see how many times these links were saved (on the left) and you could see other tags used on links tagged with IAFNL12 (column on the right).  Via the arrow or a click on the link you can view the page. The plus above the arrow on the right hand side can be used to save the link for yourself – but that requires an account of course.

Delicious search results

Delicious search results

Another way of searching you can do without account is to search for a person. For instance, if you know that my Delicious name is suzannebakker, you can go to www.delicious.com/suzannebakker and see what links I saved.

With account

Once you have made an account, you can start bookmarking web pages. In Firefox it looks like this in 2 steps:

Saving a link in Delicious

Saving a link in Delicious

 

Saving a link: details you can add and edit

Saving a link: details you can add and edit

And, once you have saved a link, in your own overview it will look like this:

Saved links in Delicious: with description

Saved links in Delicious: with description

To organise your links you can create so-called stacks. (Please note that stacks have been replaced by tag bundles, which work much the same way). You can add a link to a stack when you save it, or you can add it later on – just as you may edit everything else later on.  You can add a description to a stack to let yourself and others know what the links in the stack are about, and you can easily share the link to your stack with others, for instance participants in your training who can then easily keep updated with materials related to the training as collected by you. They can decide to follow the stack so that they will know when you add a new link to it. Data on followers and views are provided. Here is what a stack could look like:

Example of a stack in Delicious

Example of a stack in Delicious

If you do not invite others to contribute to your stacks, links saved by others with similar tags will not show up in your own overview or in your stack. So for example, I have a stack with links related to IAFNL12, all tagged with IAFNL12. Others can view this stack, and others can save their own links using the same tag, IAFNL12. But if I have not invited them to contribute to my stack I will not see these bookmarked links unless I search for this tag or save the same links myself. However, if someone searches for “IAFNL12″ they will find all the links saved with this tag – both those that are in my stack and those that are not. So the fact that I have made a stack does not hinder anyone else who wants to save links or who wants to find saved links, but it does help me to have all those links organised in one place, and others can take advantage of that if they wish.

This is one of the things I like about Delicious – I can organise myself and inadvertently help others with that, while I can also get inspired by others who have bookmarked links on topics that I am interested in!

I hope this short explanation helps you get started and will enable you to get the most out of your own bookmarks and the power of the social web. Feel free to let me know if you have questions!

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Content Curation

Pinterest

Pinterest

Content curation is not new – in fact it is at least as old as concepts like libraries and museums. So why is it so hot these days? Why are there all sorts of tools, like Pinterest, the hottest new kid in town, that can help you curate content? It must have something to do with the widespread feeling of information overload in combination with an ever increasing number of social media tools that give all of us the opportunity to collect our favourite content around us.

This personal collection of links, photos, ideas and thoughts that many of us create on Facebook for instance is a form of content curation. We are filtering for our Facebook friends and subscribers information that we find important, and are in turn using our friends and likes for consuming filtered information. This could help us make sense of all the information available to us on the web. After all, as I recently heard: information overload is filter failure. The human filter of our friends and others we follow should help us find that information that is useful for us, and to avoid that which we do not need so that we do not become too daunted by everything out there.

However, exactly the tools that help us focus on information important to us are also making it more and more difficult to remain focused. After all, most of us have profiles in different networks – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ probably being the most current ones. And each of these networks may have a different focus, a different network to maintain and follow.

One of my collections in Delicious

One of my collections in Delicious

Of course there are now tools to manage these different networks by enabling you to post an update in different profiles (for instance If This Then That) and to check updates of others in one environment (for instance Hootsuite). RSS readers can help us view updates of blogs and websites at a glance, in Delicious we can collect and organise bookmarks, and Instapaper allows us to collect things we would still like to read – some day.

Nevertheless, it seems about time for new solutions to be found to design and apply effective information filters. That is probably one of the reasons that content curation is getting more attention nowadays. After all, visiting all our social network museums and updating our libraries daily is getting more and more unmanageable while it seems as if it is equally impossible to skip any of them even for one day.

Rohit Bhargava describes 5 models for content curation. They are aggregation, distillation, elevation, mash up and chronology. It seems to me that some models are applied more widely (aggregation, distillation, chronology) than others (elevation, mash up). Maybe because getting to a level where you can elevate and mash up information gathered requires a solid command of that information first – to be acquired via aggregation, distillation and chronology. But perhaps also because a great number of readers find posts like “5 mistakes to avoid on Twitter” easier to digest than posts that explain the trends in perceived mistakes and the background of such trends.

Symbaloo collection by Joitske Hulsebosch

Symbaloo collection by Joitske Hulsebosch

From my limited experience I can see two trends in content curation: to aggregate must-follow blogs and persons rather than ideas and tips, and to aggregate in a visual way by for instance pinning photos to a pin board, as is done in Pinterest, or by collecting visuals of websites like in Symbaloo.

While I also enthusiastically explore and consume these tools, I also feel that what is missing is attention for elevating a mere collection of links to a meaningful vision and for prioritising which information to digest and which to discard. With growing connectedness, ever expanding networks and more and more tools to collect information and keep this collection accessible it becomes more complicated to figure out when and where to stop. Simple tricks that can help include:

  • Reserving a specific period of time regularly for checking up your social media networks and for browsing
  • Identifying 3-7 topics you will focus on
  • Identifying a limited and clear range of people to follow in each network, based on your focus
  • Focusing on a limited number of networks, while giving yourself time to try new ones for a month before deciding whether to continue using them or not
  • Regularly re-evaluating your presence in and use of social media to make sure you are still where you want and need to be
  • Viewing networks like Twitter as fountains – you can go there to drink, but if you do not drink, you do not need to catch up later

One of the clearest statements I heard on this recently comes from Joitske Hulsebosch. Basically she said that walking through a library does not stress out people as much as passing by content on the web. Somehow in a library we do not tend to have a feeling of needing to read each single book curated there and of inadequacy at realising this is never going to be possible. In a museum some of us will visit only the impressionists while others prefer to view classic painters like Rembrandt and Vermeer. And this is perfectly fine.

So the best advice probably is to be aware that not all curated content is curated for your personal consumption – just as the content you curate is not all of it there on your blog or profile page for each single visitor. And to be content with that. And to trust that if information is meant to reach you, it will.

A bit more on content curation

What can non-profits learns about content curation – a Storify by Beth Kanter

5 models for content curation – post by Rohit Bhargava

Non-profits on Pinterest – a Storify by Beth Kanter

It’s Filter Failure – post by Joitske Hulsebosch with great English language video of Clay Shirky on filter failure

The Filtering Facilitator – Prezi by Joitske Hulsebosch (in NL)

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