Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Choosing a curation service

You are not a curator For the past year I have been using Google+ as my curation engine. Using Tumblr for the past week has opened my eyes. Google+ has a problem.

As an educator who has pretty much sold his soul to the Internet, I feel rather strongly about curation. If that statement makes you feel uncomfortable, just call it student-centred learning. Either way, the decision about which curation service to use is a critical one for me. Since it's what I spend much of my day doing, I not only need a curation service which is attractive and therefore enhances the selected content I am trying to draw attention to, but also gives me an efficient workflow. Most of the content I am curating arises from other people, but for practical purposes I also need the same workflow to function efficiently when I need to promote my own content to the distinct but overlapping audiences across a range of sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+. One problem with Google+ is that unlike services such as, it doesn't talk to other networks such as Twitter and Facebook, that means lots of manual cutting and pasting. But Google+ has a bigger problem from my perspective.

What happens on Google+ stays on Google+
Google+ is crap as a referrer - it simply doesn't generate traffic for other sites. That's not just my observation across the range of sites that I run, it has also been reported by other people. I'm not entirely sure why this is. Maybe Google+ is such a rich environment that once there, people never want to leave. it's certainly true that I find it a very rewarding place in terms of the comments and discussion it generates, although that could just be a feature of the network I have developed there.

In contrast, Tumblr is and excellent referrer (but does not generate much discussion for me - although my network there is young). I like Tumblr much better than, which generates no discussion at all, and which it also massively outperforms in terms of referrals. Part of the reason for this is the possibility of content added to Tumblr to going viral, which simply doesn't happen with Tumblr was a great curation site for the SGM Spring Conference, and I'll certainly be using it again in that way for events.

So my problem is one of workflow, but most platforms seem to have at least one blindspot. Ideally I'd like the World to come to my blog rather than me having to go to them, but the World doesn't work that way. Authoring on WordPress and even Blogger is clunkier (practically impossible on mobile devices or example) and so has a higher threshold than platforms such as Tumblr, but is the ultimate goal for content curation. For all these reasons, I've been looking for alternative curation sites. Over the last year I've tried Pinterest but it hasn't attracted the right audience for the topics I write about. If I was a photographer or was selling physical products I'd be all over Pinterest like a rash, but the image-based format is ultimately too limiting for my style. The new Flipboard magazines are a non-starter because they only work on one platform. Tumblr is the leader of the pack on all fronts at present.

I may be pissed off at Google and looking to punish it because of Reader, but ultimately this is about the flaws in Google+ rather than simply my rage. Also high on my agenda is finding a replacement of Reader Starred Items as my online scrapbook. It may be time to take another look at Evernote, which could come back into play with the demise of Reader. Unfortunately I'm also pissed off at Evernote for what they did to Skitch - I've just had to downgrade to the old version because the App Store version is so bad. Anyone got any apps for dealing with rage? Ultimately the most likely solution is that I will simply use the best available Dark Social technology. It is under my control, works well on all platforms including mobile, and is already completely integrated into my workflow. Email.


  1. In terms of discussion on Tumblr, I've added Disqus commenting which works fine. Have neglected Tumblr of late, but was interested when visitng the Medical School in Galway the other week that students were suggesting that more use could me made of it to support teaching. Interesting to see too some people have moved their blogs over to Tumblr.

  2. We did a workshop on curation at AMEE... nearly every service you mention was mentioned by our audience. We're going to be try getting widespread uptake of Scoopit- will let you know about progress!