Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

PearlTrees - A Way To Curate Your Web

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 5, 2010

I first met Patrice Lamothe, co-founder of PearlTrees in November and became fascinated with the PearlTrees service because of the many ways it can be used, and because it is an example of a media technology that is closely integrated into the way people are using the web.

Since then, I've played around with PearlTrees and I can see lots of interesting uses for this technology, and its potential in creating a giant, curated web, one which goes beyond simple search, and beyond social tagging as in Delicious.

And I'm excited now to be working with PearlTrees, as an advisor, in helping this startup grow to the next level. I'm very fortunate to that I can work with companies that interest me anyway, rather than having to work with companies that don't.

[Full Disclosure: This is part of my media/business strategy consulting services that help finance my journalism on SVW. I'm also part of the "Intel Insiders," a small group of advisors to Intel; Tibco Software is a sponsor; and I've done consulting work for SAP. You can call me at 415 336 7547 if you'd like more information on my consulting services.]

PearlTrees users create a visual metaphor of a pearl and then connected pearls, which are web pages. For example, I created a very simple pearl based on my recent coverage of the Google v Italy court case.

http://pear.ly/kaKn


In this image, you can see some of my research that went into this story because each pearl is a web page with information about the court case. If you click on the link above, it will take you to PearlTrees and you can interact with the pearls. [Very soon, a new version will allow live Pearls to be embedded on any web page.]

It gets more interesting when other PearlTree users grab my Pearls and add them to their account, and then add comments, or add new pearls to the same topic. In this way, a community can collectively add a lot of value to a topic or story.

PearlTrees is still in early beta but it is already very useful in its current version. The beauty of PearlTrees is its simple user interface, and Firefox addons that make it easy to integrate into your workflow. With just one-click, through pull-down menus, a web page can be 'pearled' and added to your topic pearls.

Over the next few weeks and months I'll start sharing some of the Pearls that I create as part of my daily work. And I'll also be highlighting some Pearls made by others.

I expect different communities to use PearlTrees in different ways. And so will individuals. And there are already some patterns emerging.

For example, Patrice tells me that he knows instantly if a PearlTree belongs to a man or a woman. Their shape is different. Women tend to create PearlTrees that are circular in shape, many pearls connected in a radial form, like spokes in a bicycle wheel; while men tend to create tree-like Pearls, with many sub-branches.

And that's what I like about the PearlTrees concept - it is simple enough that it can be used in so many different ways. I'm looking forward to seeing this idea evolve and find its way into many different communities.


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