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

The Curation Buzz... And PearlTrees

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 12, 2010

My buddy Dave Galbraith is the first person I remember to first start talking about curation and the Internet, several years ago. He even named his company Curations, and created a tool/site for curation: Wists. And his site SmashingTelly - is great example of curation, a hand-picked collection of great videos.

Today, much is written about curation and the Internet but it all seems mostly talk because we don't really have the tools we need. Curation seems to be just a new way to describe things like blogging and "Editor's Picks."

Robert Scoble writes about The Seven Needs of Real-Time Curators

"... who does curation? Bloggers, of course, but blogging is curation for Web 1.0."

Reading Robert Scoble's post on curation, it almost seemed as if he were describing PearlTrees, a company I've recently been working with in an advisory role, when he talks about "info atoms and molecules."

...what are info atoms? A tweet is an atom. A photo on Flickr is an atom. A conversation item on Google Buzz is an atom. A Facebook status message is an atom. A YouTube video is an atom.

Thousands of these atoms flow across our screens in tools like Seesmic, Google Reader, Tweetdeck, Tweetie, Simply Tweet, Twitroid, etc.

A curator is an information chemist. He or she mixes atoms together in a way to build an info-molecule. Then adds value to that molecule.

PearlTrees is very similar, it's a curation tool that uses "pearls" as a visual metaphor for a web site, a Twitter post, an image, or a video. Here is a screenshot:

Pearls could be viewed as Robert's "info atoms" and a PearlTree is an "info molecule," and each PearlTree created can be shared and "mixes" with other "info molecules."

It's become a very useful curation tool for my projects and it's also a very good media technology because I can publish my PearlTrees in a variety of formats and across different media channels.

For example, often I will publish a PearlTree related to a news story, or a topic that I'm working on, to show readers my online research and additional information.

I can also grab parts of other people's PearlTrees and add them to mine; or search for PearlTrees that are similar to mine and that might reveal interesting new sites.

I wouldn't be surprised to see PearlTrees being published in all sorts of online documents such as press releases, white papers, and more.

More to come...

We might talk a lot about curation these days but we've only just begun. Erin Scime recently wrote:

The term "curate" is the interactive world's new buzzword. During content creation and governance discussions, client pitches and creative brainstorms, I've watched this word gain traction at almost warp speed.

John Byrne, the former editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek, believes that curation will be a vital part of future successful media businesses. Curation is one of the three pillars of his new company: C-Change Media - Content, Curation, Community.

PearlTrees is the closest tool I've found so far, for effective and easy to create curation, which can be easily published and shared. I hope we get more curation tools because we need them.

I'm looking forward to working with the PearlTrees team and finding new ways of using the service. And please check out my PearlTrees when you come across them in various posts ... such as this one on "Curation."

 Curation 


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