During the early stages of doctoral research, it is likely that you will encounter too much information to easily keep track of. Mark Carrigan of LSE recommends using digital curation tools to keep track of everything you find online. Here are his recommendations (reposted from here):
“At the heart of all these tools are the same core practical tasks which anyone working in an information rich environment faces: collecting, sorting, evaluating and sharing information.
- Storify is perhaps the mostly widely known of these four. It allows you to search multiple social networks and knit together items you find into sequential stories. I’ve found this useful for preserving Twitter debates that I’ve particularly enjoyed. However I’m aware this only represents part of what the tool is capable of if you combine a sufficiently diverse range of elements, whereas my uses have merely been reconstructing conversations on one medium that I was actively involved in. The most impressive uses I’ve seen have tended to revolve around covering events either retrospectively or live.
- Bundlr is my personal favourite and I can’t recommend it enough. As with the others, you use a browser button to ‘bundle’ content. When you’re on a web page which you want to curate, press the button and either choose an existing bundle or make a new one. What’s most impressive about Bundlr is how it combines the ability to handle many types of content (e.g. youtube videos, images, tweets, presentations, web pages) with effortlessly making the finished product look aesthetically appealing. With their latest update this became particularly true of embedding bundles in webpages. It’s also incredibly easy to pick up. Within a few hours of signing up to Bundlr I had multiple bundles which had collectively received hundreds of hits. I honestly don’t understand how I kept track of things I wrote and read online prior to using the service.
- Scoop.It allows you to publish ‘magazines’ based on content you scoop through a browser bookmark. Whereas some of the other tools focus more on collating items, Scoop.It offers more room for curation : it gives you more opportunity than the other tools to control what aspects of your ‘scooped’ items are highlighted and what commentary you offer about them. It also has an interesting, though in my experience not quite perfected, tool which offers you ideas about things to ‘scoop’. One feature I particularly like about Scoop.It is that it lets you tweet whenever you scoop a new item. In this way it integrates the curation process with managing twitter accounts. Though this might not be appealing to everyone, it’s a potentially invaluable time saver for those who manage multi-author blogs and multiple social media accounts. I like Scoop.It a lot and, if I had more time, I’d use this. Although I’d qualify this by saying I’d use it in my capacity as a social media manager rather than as an academic researcher.
- Pearl Trees is perhaps the most intriguing and yet, in my experience, the least practical. It takes a mind-mapping approach to curation, enabling you to collect ‘pearls’ (webpages, text notes or photos) and arrange them into hierarchical structures. I found it fascinating to explore and the interface is very different to anything else I’d come across. Nonetheless, I just didn’t ‘get’ it, beyond my abstract curiosity. It’s worth trying though and, even if your reaction is the same as mine, it’s definitely one to watch. When researching this article, I discovered that since I last used Pearl Trees they’ve introduced ‘bi-directional’ synchronization with social media. So rather than just auto tweeting when you add an item to your Pearl Tree, it can also add a pearl whenever you tweet a link. In practice I suspect this might not work as it should but, nonetheless, it has certainly induced me to give Pearl Trees another go.”