Towards the end of last year I became more interested in curation. I’ve tagged and collected bookmarks on delicious and now diigo for several years, but never bothered to create lists, groups or even added many comments to bookmarks, largely because it was just for me; a personal library. But I now have a growing internal audience of trainers to think about who are increasingly interested in what I’m doing and talking about. I needed to become more organised.
I started to think about how I could improve the user experience for them to make sure they persevered. This led me to research other ways of sharing to make it more appealing to access and consume the content that I was finding. I tried Pearltrees and experimented with running RSS feeds to sites like Symbaloo, Pageflakes and Netvibes, but while these are all good tools Scoop.it was the one that met my needs the best.
Scoop.it is a content curation tool. It lets you organise content that you discover into topics on boards in a simple, yet visually appealing way. You can tag them like in Diigo but it encourages you to add more comment to the posts you select to give more context. It’s also very social you can search other people’s content and re-scoop it back to your boards for your audience. It’s when you start using it as a search tool that you realise the power of human filters over algorithms. Yes the humans are fallible, they won’t always tag everything consistently, but they unearth better content and link it to more relevant content. Some people see this as spoon feeding, they think it’s lazy, personally I think it’s a natural and welcome evolution. Most people just want to find relevant content, most people don’t know how to construct complex search terms on Google, most people don’t realise how the search results are chosen for them. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t encourage people to learn all these skills, we should, but most people won’t, most people simply don’t have the time or the inclination.
Curation can provide a filter, or a series of filters, a mixture of human and machine that ultimately leads you to find more useful stuff. It’s a gateway drug to using the internet to learn. Hopefully it will lead more people to want to become curators themselves, to give back and contribute. Some, probably a minority will, others will just consume and learn from the work of the minority. Now that’s not unique to curation is it?