Reblogged: Curation Platform Comparison tables – SocialCompare

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Curation Platforms | Comparison tables – SocialCompare

This is a really useful list of online content curation services (60 approx). For each service it lists:

  • Resources that can be curated. eg Twitter content, Facebook, RSS feeds, blogs.
  • Whether the curation methods are automated or manual.
  • Whether the content can be edited after it’s curated.
  • Output and export formats. eg RSS, Embed in webpage, API’s
  • Team collaboration functions.
  • Pricing.

I’ve only heard of a few of the services listed – Scoop.it, Storify, Pearltrees, Pinterest, Bundlr and Memolane – but there are plenty of others worth taking a look at.

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Stacks Are Being Removed From Delicious.com

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I know some people abandoned the social bookmarking site delicious.com when it looked like it was shutting down a couple of years ago. At the time I transferred my links to Pinboard like others did, but I kept my delicious.com account. Then AVOS announced they were taking it over. Three cheers for AVOS. 🙂 I did try a few other bookmarking services, but delicious.com worked for me, I liked it (I’ve been with it since 2007) and I stuck with it through the changeover. I seem to remember there were a couple of times it played up in the early days, but I don’t know any free services that haven’t played up once in a while. AVOS have built on the original service (I like what they’ve done) and one really useful addition in particular has been Stacks.

Stacks enable users to pull together links that might not be directly related but can sit together under a theme the users defines. I find stacks particularly useful for bundling links together for presentations and training sessions. I can give them a descriptive title and even more background detail in the stack description field – showing people why I created that stack… what its purpose is. Stacks also have a unique url I can point people to during the presentation/ training. You can also add an image for the stack. It may not have any specific technical function, but visuals are often a greater draw than just text alone. They also give visual clues as to what the stack is about as well.

I do use tags, but the good thing about stacks is that I can quickly add a link to them without worrying that I’m using exactly the same tag I used for a similar item. I don’t put everything I have in stacks – a lot of my links come in via packrati.us or via connections I’ve set up using ifttt.com and can just sit there with catch-all tags. eg “fromTwitter” “fromGoogleReader”. I don’t necessarily want to put them all in stacks, but I know that if I found them interesting enough to tweet or post to Facebook or Google+ or Tumblr in the first place I know I might want to find them again and having them sitting there in delicious.com means I can find them with a little bit of digging later on. However, the items I put in stacks are put there for a purpose. I mentioned the presentations and training, but I also have a few interests that I like to keep specific links bundled together for. Stacks allow me to go to those interests straight away, just by clicking on the stacks link without the need to trawl through my rambling lists of inconsistent tags. NB: As someone with a library cataloguing/classification background I should probably keep better order in my tags, but say, for example, I only very occasionally save a link for some kind of infographic, how am I supposed to remember if I used “vizualisation”, “visualisation”, “vizualisations” or “vizualisations” as the tag for that type of link before? Stacks that aren’t reliant on accurate tags make this easier.

Another great feature of stacks is that other delicious users can follow them. So, when a new link is added to a specific stack they’re informed about it. This is a great feature. You can also follow an individual user, but I would find following a stack more useful – it means I’m only going to see the links I want to see. For example, I’m interested in public libraries, therefore I might follow a stack that focuses on this subject. However, the same user who created the stack might also be interested in and have a stack about sea-food. I really wouldn’t be interested in their stack of sea-food links. It helps you focus on the things you’re interested in, rather than having to sift through things you aren’t. Even if a user doesn’t want to follow a stack, but wants to see if I’m saving links that might be of interest to them, stacks act as a bold pointer on my profile page to areas I’m interested in.

Screenshot of delicious.com bookmarking service stack functionality

I know you can/could use tag-bundles in delicious.com – where you link your related tags together. However, this doesn’t work in the same way as stacks. This relies on the tags bringing links together, rather than being able to decide on the individual links you want to bring together. NB: I say can/could, because I’m still not entirely sure if this was something that was dropped after the takeover by AVOS, or not.

Anyway, my point to the blog post is that delicious.com have decided that even though they acknowledge that their users like the stack functionality and the developers have been impressed by how stacks have been used, they’re getting rid of them! All links in a stack will be converted so that the stack title becomes another tag associated to that link. Along with this, some of the detail (stack title and description) and functionality (no longer able to follow a stack) will be lost during and after the conversion process.

A recent blog post (20 July 2012) on their site said: “We introduced stacks last year as a visually rich way to think about your links and we’ve been blown away by the amazing content you’ve created. But given the upcoming launch of new products from Delicious’ parent company, AVOS, and our focus on simplifying the Delicious site, we realized the value of stacks is limited for our users moving forward. For this reason, we’ve decided to simplify how users organize links on Delicious by consolidating stacks into tags. Users will no longer be able to create stacks on Delicious starting in early August, 2012.”

I can probably live with some of the functionality going, but it’s frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, if stacks hadn’t been introduced I would have still been happy with delicious, but to have this useful functionality taken off me now is a bit of a downer. I really find stacks helpful for the way I work – being able to quickly and easily pull links together anywhere, providing a bit of background detail in the title and description, and allowing users to follow them.

I use very descriptive stack titles and I’m not sure having a stack title converted to a tag such as “Introduction to Web 2.0 & public libraries” or “Mobile Devices/Technology in the Physical Environment (with a specific focus on libraries)” is going to be useful to me and (1) I don’t fancy typing that tag out every time I want to link other urls to it (2) I’m not sure I can convert into a condensed useful tag for myself or others to follow.

And giving such short notice about the changes is a bit of a worry – I was planning to use stacks for a few presentations I’ve got to make in a couple of months time.

I’m also wondering if the statement above means that delicious.com will be treading on the toes of AVOS’ new product if it continued to contain the stack functionality? It’s not going to be so identical is it, that they can’t co-exist, surely? Or are the developers automatically assuming that if people like stacks they will go over to the new product? What if this is the case, but the new product doesn’t do some of the things delicious.com does? Or does it mean that they want to make delicious compatible with the new products and stacks have no place in this compatibility?

Anyway, they’re just idle thoughts.

I do hope that whatever happens with delicious I’m still able to organise my bookmarks in the way that I have  recently found to be extremely useful ie via something that is similar/same as stacks. In the mean-time I’m going to back up my bookmarks and see if the stack information appears in them.

Ideas from Innovations in Reference Management

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I attended an interesting event a couple of weeks ago – Innovations in Reference Management. The event covered developments in the use of Citation and Bibliographic Management software alongside Virtual Learning Environments. There were presentations from a couple of academic institutions, one about archiving the web and further ones from providers of reference management tools. Details of these presentations can be found at the Open University Telstar blog.

Even though the event was run by The Open University and was aimed at academic institutions, as a librarian working for a Public Library Service I still found it really useful to attend. The common link of education gives an opportunity to pick up ideas that academic institutions have developed and possibly put them in the context of a public library.

The key things I picked up during the event were the use of Virtual Learning Environments, the use of citation/recommender services (similar to social bookmarking tools), and the wealth of open learning tools and courses from the Open University.

Use of Virtual Learning Environments : Academic institutions provide VLE’s for their students. Put simply it allows them to upload content, provide assessment tools (including peer assessment), communicate among students and tutors, and keep track of work, research and resources used in studying. It struck me that public libraries could make use of VLE’s in a less formal way. Many public library users use our libraries to learn in an informal way, via self study – whether it’s picking up a single book to find out the answer to a single question, or making use of a range of printed, audio-visual and online materials for larger projects. If we are providing them with the resources to learn, could we also give them the means to manage their studies by using VLE’s? It could also give them the opportunity to interact with other ‘students’ in a relevant online environment, whether those other students are in the same county or half way across the world.

Citation / Reference Management Tools : The interesting thing for me here was the ability to pull out citation references from different online databases and then integrate this data seamlessly into your own personal resource list, annotating and tagging it as you go. I know some catalogues provide reading list functions, but wouldn’t it be useful if they could allow users to create reading lists from the catalogue, feed it into the reference management tool (allowing users to annotate the items in their reference list) and then feed these references and annotations back into the library system – the information that is fed back into the library system could be used to inform staff purchasing stock / other users about why the stock item was of use and therefore act as a recommendation.

Open Learning Resources : The Open University provides a wide range of online free learning resources for learners and educators, including course texts, self assessment activities, discussion forums, study tools and support, covering a broad range of subject material. In the current climate of tightening financial belts, I wonder if public libraries could treat these courses as another free resource we can direct our library members to? We also run courses in libraries and I wonder how relevant some of this material would be to those courses? The courses themselves could also be a useful/low cost resource for library staff development, as there are some in-depth business and management units/courses available.

So, are these opportunities that public library services could take advantage of, or should we leave this to the academic institutions?