Curating online content and recording information sources: tools I’ve used

I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog-post that the tool I value most for this at the moment, is Evernote. But there are some other tools I’ve had a good look at:

ScoopIt is also a pretty good curation tool, and if you use it often to discover content and link it up with Twitter (there’s bound to be an IFTT recipe), you can look more original on Twitter at the same time as creating something more visually attractive and useful for yourself than you could do with Twitter alone. The problem I’ve discovered is that your ScoopIt stories look out of date pretty quickly if it’s not a primary tool for you, and I can’t vouch for it being the best place to discover content: a better way to use it might be to investigate the bookmarklet tool.

Another such tool that I’m aware of is paper.li, largely because of one particular user who picks up on my tweets and reports on them there & tweets at me to alert/acknowledge them, which is a pretty nice, social way to curate/collate content and report on it.

I used Storify for collecting tweets relating to the Finch report on open access, and I still refer to the collection from time to time. I think Storify is particularly good at collecting tweets about a particular theme, but you can also use it to collect websites and material from other sources. Apparently, Storify also has a bookmarklet tool which I would use if I intended to invest more in Storify.

I also created a collection (or two) of academic papers on EndNote when I was at Warwick, and I exported and then imported the bibliographic data into Mendeley, for future reference. The reason I don’t use either Mendeley or EndNote so much these days is really that I’m not using so much scholarly content. If I were, I’d also want to investigate Zotero as an alternative: it’s a long time since I investigated it but it has a good reputation amongst researchers I’ve met. I note that EndNote’s Desktop version seems to remain the best at re-formatting your bibliographic data into the various styles for journal publication.

I used to use Delicious for website bookmarks but when it lost some features that I valued, I migrated my bookmark collection over to Diigo. Both of these tools, like Evernote, have handy content-adding tools for my browser toolbar (bookmarklets). My Diigo collection is nicely tagged but not maintained so much these days, because I prefer the way Evernote copies the content of sites. I once spent some considerable time weeding out dead links from my bookmarks, so it seems to me better to have a copy of content for future reference, in case the original webpage is moved/removed: apparently, Pocket can also do this.

Overall, the convenience of Evernote prevails, for me. It’s apparently a “productivity” tool and not only for content curation, although that’s how I use it at present: I know it’s more powerful. (I’m sensing that “productivity” is a keyword for folks at companies who provide these tools, especially Mendeley in their recent webinar for Librarians.)

Brian Kelly’s blog post on Evernote from Jan 2014 compares it to Simplenote, explaining why he’s sticking with Evernote. And if you want to explore productivity tools further, you could do worse than looking at the Libguide from the University of Minnesota on “Digital Academic Workflow tools”.

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