Software to Curate Resources

 Here at Idealware, we follow a whole lot of different resources -- nonprofit focused blogs, technology news, new research, major news publications, and more-- to understand what's going on in the technology world that might be of interest to nonprofits, and to bring the best of what we find to Idealware readers through Twitter, our Best of the Web roundup, and (soon!) this blog.

 
For us, that involves a process where all staff members follow specific blogs and publications and flag relevant articles.  A point person (usually me) actually reads, or at least skims, all the resources that anyone flagged, and mark particularly good ones for Twitter.  And from there, we winnow down what we publish on Twitter, Facebook, the blog and other sources.
 
Although I suspect that a number of organizations are doing or would benefit from doing something similar to follow a lot of news sources on their own focus area, this process is suprisingly hard to support with low-cost software.  
 
We're currently doing most of it through a somewhat strange use of Instapaper -- a free tool designed to allow individuals to flag things for themselves to read later through a quick bookmarklet tool.  Everyone at Idealware uses the same Instapaper acccount to flag articles in their browser.  All these articles then appear in a single "Read Later" list in Instapaper.  Instapaper makes it easy to print all these articles or -- as I typically do -- automatically send yourself a digest to read on your mobile device of choice.  
 
So I typically read the articles offline (or skim them online, in busy times) and simply archive those that I don't think are very useful or particularly related to choosing software (our mission).  If they do seem useful, I move them into a "For Twitter" folder within Instapaper, and add a short description.  Andrea then uses that folder of articles as part of her Twitter and Facebook strategies, to combine with other posts and re-tweets.  When she's posted something, she currently just archives it, but we've been thinking about trying to group them by category to be able to post resource roundups on the blog by topic, which seems like it would work well.
 
The Instapaper route is working okay for us, but it seems like a really roundabout strategy for collecting and curating resources -- which you would think would be a common thing to want to do.  But we haven't been able to find a lot of other options.  Strangely, many of the services which say they're about curating content-- like paper.ly-- don't let you do any moderatation by hand. They only aggregate things from particular feeds or keywords.  Which could be useful to someone, but is basically worthless to us, as we're literally following dozens (maybe hundreds) of feeds in order to filter down to maybe about six resources a day.
 
Google Reader will allow some substantial portion of what we need to do, but it's somewhat awkward for lots of people to flag resources into a single place (unless they're all always using Reader themselves, which isn't the case for us), and the features to allow you to read offline aren't as useful as Instapaper.  It does, however, let you create your own annotated feed of resources, and do some sorting of resources.
 
Scoop.it is another interesting option in this realm.  Scoop.it does let people (including the general public) flag articles into a pool, and then provides functionality for one or multiple people to choose articles from that pool to publish into an online magazine type of format, with your own descriptions.  It's pretty compelling if your end goal is to publish a nice looking online roundup of resources, but internally, we're not sure about having a whole other public channel to pay attention to, and there doesn't seem to be an easy way to limit who can see your "magazine."
 
What are you using to do content curation?  Any great tools that we've overlooked?  We'd love to find a better way!

Comments

Curation to Email Tool

Greetings,

From what you're describing, our marketing tool FlashIssue would be a great fit.  You can easily curate articles and other web content and quickly turn that in to a slick newsletter. It's totally free, please don't hesitate to contact me if you would like to hear more about it.

All the best,

Patrick  (http://flashissue.com)

we use Diigo

For quite some time, a colleague and I have used Diigo.  On the plus side, we can collect link, title and annotation in one place and tag as needed. On occasion, we pull together resources (usually by tag) to create a list on a specific topic.  The group feature is good too (for a while, we used that to draw our collective attention to new and noteworthy resources). There are some negatives, as well, that we are currently wrestling with. We'd like to see a more attactive, interesting format for reports and web pages. We'd also like to store multiple annotations that could be group- (or client-specific). So we are looking at other options, but I can recommend Diigo.

 - Stephanie Margolin, Digital Librarian

Shared Evernote notebook?

It strikes me that the 'editor'/someone (I believe you need a paid account to create a notebook others can modify) could make a notebook they invite their team to participate in.  Evernote has buttons for all browsers I know of (and 'share to' options for mobile). The workflow could include clipping the whole article (they have a Chrome plugin - 'Clearly - which automatically formats things ala Instapaper) and comments the team has could be added in line or tags employed for subject areas as well as handing the workflow. I imagine their saved search function could be used in w/ the tags to approximate folders within the notebook.

Agree on Evernote

 I agree with Jeremy on using Evernote. If the point is to track articles and such internally it's a great way to do it. You can add a quick note to say why you're saving it.  

I haven't played with

I haven't played with Instapaper yet, but it sounds similar to Scoop.it. I actually curate two Scoop.it topics (Facebook Research and Best Practices, as well as a Twitter Research and Best Practices) expressly for the benefit of clients and to collect information personally on specific topics in one place.

When I first began working with folks on social media, they often asked me to keep them abreast of changes and best practices with Facebook and Twitter. This seemed like a good way to collect and curate articles from around the web on a specific topic and keep them in one place. I am enjoying the ease, readability, and use of Scoop.it. 

 --Debra Askanase

Pinboard might be useful in your curation workflow

if you want to be able to file and later find resources that you stick in the Instapaper bucket, you might find Pinboard a useful tool. You can link Instapaper to your Pinboard account, so that all instapapered articles are automatically bookmarked in Pinboard. You'd still have tag in Pinboard (unless the Instapaper API supports folders becoming tags in Pinboard; I've never investigated this). I know this adds another possibly clunky layer to your mashup of tools, but it occurred to be that the Instapaper folders probalby aren't great for archiving. A Pinboard subscriber account (annual fee) will also give you archiving of the of the web content of the bookmarked pages as an added bonus. I like knowing that if I instapaper an article, even if I don't get around to reading it, I can do a full content search for it in my Pinboard account later.

Pinboard rocks

I've been playing with Pinboard for about a month now, and absolutely love it. It is a dead-simple, flexible, and high-performance bookmarking application. Highly recommended!