May 11, 2010
Pearling Your Way to the Best StoriesSteve Rosenbaum's recent article: "Why Content Curation is Here to Stay" really resonated with me, not surprising given how much time I have been spending organizing and curating content in the past couple of months. This has largely been to three factors: information overload is killing me, I can't keep up with the increased content I receive daily in multiple inboxes (I include social media platforms here) and the fact that I've been doing some work with Pearltrees, an online curation tool.
He writes, "the debate pits creators against curators, asking big questions about the rules and ethical questions around content aggregation."
And then quotes Clay Shirky: “Curation comes up when search stops working. Curation comes up when people realize that it isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community. Part of the reason that human curation is so critical is simply the vast number of people who are now making and sharing media. Everyone is a media outlet. The point of everyone being a media outlet is really not at all complicated. It just means that we can all put things out in the public view now."
Frankly, search rarely works well for me unless I'm looking up a particular restaurant, hotel or phrase or reference on Google and for the latter, invariably I'm brought to Wikipedia or Answers.com.
Natural web curators are people who spend time online regularly - they're educators doing research on topics, marketers monitoring trends, journalists working on stories and fact checking references, bloggers linking to other people's work and ideas, content creators and type-a personalities who are anal at staying organized.
Everyone loves to organize 'something,' whether it's a teenager who loves to organize their room, a college student who spends time organizing their iTunes playlists, an avid reader who organizes their book collection or a geek who organizes the latest gadgets & tools from multiple sources on the web.
Bookmarking can only take you so far and while a lot of my colleagues are avid users of delicious, it doesn't work for me. My brain doesn't think like 'delicious,' yet I have played around with it and other popular tools so I'm aware of how they work and can learn what a particularly sub-set of people want from an organization and productivity tool.
Human curation provides tremendous value for those who do it and want to access that data later and for those who tap into their wealth of connections and links they've filtered. The way a set of links is displayed can make or break an experience however.
I've been playing with the Pearltrees' (who I advise) new super embed feature in the past week and the AHA moment I'm having as a right brain thinker who loves visual displays and learning through graphics and images is that pearling converts human curation into a unique and compelling story.
It's easy to get 'hooked' on curating when its visually interesting and fun, even moreso when your curation tells a story that hooks others. For example, in about ten minutes, I created two interesting Pearltrees, one entitled the World of Ben Parr (from Mashable) and another one entitled Ben Parr on Mobile (articles, videos and more about mobile from his perspective).
You can navigate from pearl to pearl without ever leaving my blog and I was able to extract only the data I DECIDED to extract from the web about Ben's world and about his thoughts on mobile. It's a beautiful thing: I, as the human creator decides, not Google.
Below is a much smaller Pearltree on Rafe Needleman & Journalism, which took me about a minute to create. I could have expanded to include past articles, videos, interviews and tweets that included content and perspectives from Rafe on journalism, but in this case, I decided -- as the human curator -- to give my audience just a taste.
Below I grabbed the sections of CNET Webware that I find most valuable and left the categories that don't interest me as much. This Pearltree presents my selection, which I can edit over time. Future edits could be the addition of a Pearltree that Robert Scoble or David Pogue created, one that might be related to a particular topic or held a perspective that was aligned in some way.
Here's what else is cool: I can grab someone else's Pearltree from their blog or within Pearltrees to embed in my site or blog. For example, below is a Pearltree IDC's Michael Fauscette created on SmartDataCollective. He used a Pearltree to highlight content on Social Business. The Pearltree tells its own unique story and I can jump from reference to reference, all while staying within his blog -- much faster and more unified than jumping off the site and then from one web page to another. You can also imagine how powerful it can be for a blogger or journalist to embed a Pearltree showing references and resources that led up to their final conclusion.
Another interesting way to use curation in a visual way is to have a series of pearls representing comments on Twitter or a blog post about a particular band or politician, or feedback from video, podcasts, Digg, Twitter, blogs and more following a Steve Jobs keynote or what about positive sentiment about your brand? Below is a quick snapshot of Web 2.0 Expo's San Francisco event from one person's perspective, which you could add to your own.
Below a Pearltree showing clients from a web & social media management consultancy for the music industry.
* We’re living in an era of content abundance.
* Even prolific creators are going to end up mixing their created content with a mix of curated sources.
* Creators, distributors, aggregators, and curators are all economically essential parts of the value chain.
* Advertisers will embrace trusted ‘places’ over trusted sources — large curated collections will achieve higher CPMs.
Hear hear and that's my point. Content overload is killing us.....help me filter please. Even the smartest aggregators can't replace human ones from sources you trust or share similar interests. And, advertisers and others will think the same way since the value will be that much higher. After all, value and quality is what we're ultimately after, not just high numbers.
May 09, 2010
Down the Avenue Gets an Urban FaceliftWelcome to the new Down the Avenue design which went live this morning. Depending on who you ask, the new design either has a more urban and hip feel (brick + warehouse + artist lofts + a stroll down the street of some undefined American city) OR the main drag of a small American town (the majority said it reminded them of the East Coast). Perhaps it doesn't feel like any of the above to you.
The street is in fact based on the town where I grew up in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York. The design is modified from real photographs I took along Main Street within the past decade.
Down the Avenue is about where old meets new. Culture meets technology. Feminine energy meets masculinity. Social media & new voices meet traditional journalism, marketing & branding. It is also an intersection between mobile, productivity, Web 2.0 and travel, and, where a passion for style & design meets a world who has no desire to honor it. Continue on the journey with me.
May 04, 2010
SUPER EMBED: Cool Discovery from within ONE WindowI've been playing around with Pearltrees' very cool "Super Embed" feature, launched this week. They'll be at the Moscone Center on Wednesday for Launch Pad, one of only 5 companies to present on-stage at Web 2.0 Expo.
Here's what I did to create the embedded Pearltree below. FREE and QUICK, I signed up for an account at Pearltrees and created a Pearltree called Down the Avenue, the name of my primary blog. Then, within the Pearltree, I created "Pearls" for about a dozen categories within my blog, largely categories of industries and areas of interests in recent years.
Next, I click on the Pearltree and hit SHARE and Voila, I'm given code to embed in my blog. It's that easy. Now, I can display one quick snapshot of a number of categories (which comprise a series of posts, articles, videos, etc) in one window, and people can view all of it without leaving my blog.
Each Pearl will take you to all the blog posts in my blog under that category. The Video Pearl will show you all the videos I've created. How cool is that?
With the onslaught of information we’re being hit with daily online, it’s impossible to keep up with content and even harder to discover or curate that content into something that is meaningful and relevant for us.
Imagine the possibilities using Pearltrees for your own blog or website. What's more, you can grab other people's Pearls and discover new people and interests within Pearltrees. This is creation, organization and curation at its best. SO, GO - Create, Envision and Explore!! Try it out.
May 03, 2010
Pearltrees Unveils SUPER EMBED at Web 2.0 ExpoClient Pearltrees is unveiling its new “Super Embed” feature this week at Launch Pad on Wednesday afternoon at the Moscone in San Francisco. They announced their new feature and other updates in a Beta 0.7 release today at Web 2.0 Expo.
If you're not familar with Pearltrees, it's a tool that allows you to organize and curate a series of web pages quickly and easily. You can not only discover new people and interests from within Pearltrees, but you can now display, share and display those web pages as "Pearls" inside your blog or website, hence the cool and appropriate name for the new feature: "Super Embed."
With this latest release, bloggers, journalists and Internet users can identify and organize a series of web pages about a particular topic, create one ‘tree’ that houses all that content and then embed that Pearltree in their blog or website so people can view everything they have discovered about that topic in one single window – all without leaving the blog.
Additional major improvements featured in this release include a Pearltree add-on for Chrome, real-time notifications about comments a Pearltree has received, as well as when other Pearltrees’ users “pick” or subscribe to a particularly Pearltree, a simplified user interface and a new social search engine that gives users a visual representation of the relevance of search results based upon proximity. This helps users see at a glance which results are closest to their search.
Pearltrees’ latest version transforms the process of discovering, organizing and sharing the things people find on the web while enabling bloggers, journalists and other content creators to add a new level of depth and context to the articles they post online.
Easy to integrate into all sites and blogs, Pearltrees’ new beta brings transforms web navigation and discovery. Simply click on the Pearltree you want to embed, click share and you are given options to share in Facebook, Twitter, or to embed directly into your blog, customizeable by size.
WHY THE SUPER EMBED WILL MATTER TO BLOGGERS & JOURNALISTS
For writers, users can discover a series of web pages and explore them in-depth without ever leaving your site. Users are exposed to a complete experience about a topic in one easy-to-navigate window.
With readers spending more time on your site, you have more time to engage with them and build a deeper relationship.
Easy-to-use, simply copy an HTML code from Pearltrees, not unlike you would grab HTML code from YouTube, and paste it into your site or blog. One click activates the window and simple arrows permit navigation from one page to the other. Suggested downloads are clearly signposted so you can start using it within minutes.
WHY PEARLTREES SUPER EMBED WILL MATTER TO THE REST OF US
There is simply too much content in too many places on the Web and while various engines help filter what you’re looking for, user-generated content, aggregators and contributors such as Yelp, Digg and more, can only get you so far. While useful, they do not curate the web for you nor do they allow you to participate in the curation process.
Smart curation online is necessary in the next generation of the web – users will demand smarter ways to find content and services that help them save time and find their passions and interests faster and easier.
SOCIAL SYSTEM & SEARCH
When you pearl the same pages or use a Pearltree (part of another user account), you construct your account of course and automatically constitute your “interest graph”. Simultaneously, a search engine explores which connections already exist between users. Therefore, when a search is launched, you are presented with suggested Pearltrees which are relevant and of interest to your world.
Pearltrees addresses web curation by enabling anyone to individually organize their web and extend it to other people’s organization of the web. By doing so, you can discover new content from people with common interests.
Check out a couple of bloggers who have used the "Super Embed" feature to show the power of curation and discovery with Pearltrees: Michelle Kraus from Huffington Post uses an embedded Pearltree to show article references for her article and Beth Blecherman shows Parent Online Content in an embedded Pearltree on her TechMamas blog (moms and dads alike).
April 20, 2010
Relationships & Dating: How Offline Principals Apply to Blogging & Twitter
Relationship columnist Andrea Syrtash and author of He's Just Not Your Type, is on the 140 Character Conference stage sharing her principals of effective relationships - what works and what doesn't for dating offline. She takes these principals to the online world and demonstrates how the very same principals apply to social media - blogging, Twitter and in every other online communication.
Lesson number 1: let others impress you rather than you focusing on "me me me." In other words, listen to the inbound dialogue, engage and respond rather than having it all be about your own pitch.
Number 2: you can't have intimacy without vulnerability. You need to be present and let go - you need to show a little vulnerability and not try to be so polished and perfect. People can't connect with you when you're being perfect. The same goes for relationships online. It's okay to ask for help on Twitter, but be real in your ask.
Principal number 3: Remember that people want to be challenged, not changed. No one wants to date a doormat; most of us want to be stimulated and challenged. It's important to understand the difference between challenging someone and changing them. When you are having a conversation with someone, ask yourself - are you trying to change their opinion or change them or are you offering your opinion?
In the online world, the same is true. People love provocative conversations on Twitter - a debate online is 'magic,' but the moment someone gets mean or angry, it's the end of the conversation. People stop listening and engaging at that point. Remember, you can challenge someone online without undermining their position.
Principal number 4: don't confuse immediate gratification with long term fulfillment. This is obviously a lesson in life too. She refers to Aristotle on this one. Don't be distracted by material things, power or money when you're engaging with people, on or offline. Ask yourself, am I being brought to my highest potential with the person I'm engaging with? This is where an effective relationship starts.
Am I a good version of myself when I'm with the person I'm engaging with, relating to, IN a relationship with? If you focus on superficial measures of success, it's only going to give you short term superficial gratification, not sustainable success or happiness.
Effective relationships start with you - stop complaining and start creating. In other words, BE the audience you want to create. How does the story start and end? You can't control how everyone reacts, but you can only create how you react. Andrea ends with this statement and passing advice: "To be effective in relationships, you have to be authentic - on and offline, and in life and in love."
140 Characters: On Education, Journalism, Media, Location & MoreThe 140 Conference kicks off with a broad range of ten minute interviews with movers and shakers across a variety of different industries, ranging from evolution of people and places (@dharple), social media strategists from big media brands CNN, NPR, NBC News and the New York Times (@acarvin, @NYC_JenPreston and @todayshow), education (@chrislehmann), and journalism (jayrosen_nyu).
Kodak's CMO Jeffrey Hazlett (@JeffreyHayzlett) interviews Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) who gives the audience this piece of advice bout blogging and tweeting - B"e extremely consistent and direct in your messaging," something she says she learned from her dad who she says, "people really respect him for that."
April 19, 2010
140Conf NYC Kicks off with VIP Party on the East SideNew York's second 140 Characters Conference kicked off last night at Room Service NYC on East 21st, not far from the Gramercy Park Hotel on Lexington Avenue. It seems like most of our festivities this week will be on the East Side.
Everyone wore a badge in typical #140conf style that says I'm a Character, although the room held more than 140 of us and there were tons of video and still cameras shooting throughout the night. MC Hammer graced us with his presence towards the end of the evening when lots of mini-groups jumped in cabs and headed off for food and schmooze.
For those at the 140Conf at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, this memory will bring a smile.
The King of the Show himself
Scott Beale, Steve Garfield
Renee Blodgett, Gowalla co-founder Josh Williams
Alan Weinkrantz, Renee Blodgett, Owen JJ Stone
April 08, 2010
On Humans Becoming Firefox IconsBelow is a recap of my first contribution to Memeburn which launched about a week ago in South Africa.
The site is dedicated to news and opinion, tech culture, innovation and business, and while focused on emerging markets, it monitors worldwide trends. This post is the result of a dream I had where I had turned into a Firefox icon and was jumping from browser to browser in offices of new start-ups, a world I intimately know.
Nothing was real in the 'human sense' and yet I was connected to everything and everyone - in this online virtual world, the kind that so many of us have created for ourselves.
ARE WE BECOMING FIREFOX ICONS?
A few weeks ago in a very bizarre dream, I was a beautifully customised icon on my Firefox browser, adorned in bright colors with HC on the bottom right.
HC didn’t stand for HealthCrunch, nor was it an alternative to creative commons. What it stood for was Human Connector. The difference between this multi-colored creative HC icon and all the others was that it could jump from one Firefox browser to another. It could also pop in and out of people’s IE and Safari worlds, hang out, and observe their behavior.
HC didn’t have a face, but had a magical wand that allowed me to engage with whomever I wanted, a power granted by the HG – Human Gadget – who mostly hung out in the open source galaxy that only a few of us insiders knew about.
DREAM VERSUS REALITY
In this dream I watched a group of people in an Internet Café somewhere in Silicon Valley. They were referring to each other by their Twitter names, and many were shouting random things into their iPhones, such as “I just got tagged in a photo” and “I just joined the ‘I’m a social media addict group’”. The waiter seemed a tad confused by the names people used, particularly @madjellyman and @toadwalker.
Oh, the things I saw as HC. I watched my human self too, not unlike the way Sully watched his blue-bodied Na’vi body in Avatar. The difference was that my icon was the human and the human me had become the alien.
A couple of weeks later, I discovered a YouTube video that showed a Twitter and Facebook café with people doing the same things as I’d dreamed of. It was so similar it was surreal.
The always-on world is catching up to us in ways we’re not even aware of, simply because the rate of change is too fast. Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near talks about the intense pace we’re moving at, as does research on the psychological and sociological impact of technological stimuli on the human brain.
Our digital world moves so rapidly that the reality and the dream can become one before you’ve realised it’s happening.
Are we really ready to become Firefox icons? Will we have a choice?
We’ve become so addicted to the adrenalin we get from new gadgets or social media tools that it’s all too easy to put the human connection aside – even if it’s only an hour less people-time than it was last week and the week before. It’s a gradual thing when machines take over.
There’s no doubt about it – I love discovering new tools that help me navigate the web in different ways, social media apps that give me a richer experience on the web and iPhone downloads that fascinate me during a boring panel discussion.
When Foursquare came out, I was hooked within a week. Why? Because it’s cool. Not only is there a game component like many of the geo-loco services on mobile devices, but there’s a Twitter-like “wow” when you discover that a friend just checked into one of your favourite places.
Services such as Skype, Twitter, Wordpress, Foursquare and Facebook are perfect for connectors like me who not only engage with people in their professional capacity, but in their personal lives as well.
These tools allow me to connect with people from countries all over the world. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t talk to Europe, Australia, South Africa, Israel or other American states.
Additionally, voices that were unheard 20 years ago now have countless platforms to tell their stories, in video, audio, on a blog, or in 140 characters or less.
While there’s no question that I love trees and lakes more than my Blackberry and iPod, the connection that I have to my devices isn’t a small one. These devices go with me everywhere, the technology “hooked factor” sets in and the result isn’t always a healthy one.
You are not a Gadget argues that Web 2.0 designs value the information content of the web over individuals. Says author Jaron Lanier: “It suggests that only the aggregator (like Google, for instance) gets rich, while the actual producers of content get poor. Web 2.0 is a formula to kill the middle class and undo centuries of social progress.” He also believes that the internet has become anti-intellectual because web 2.0 collectivism has killed the individual voice.
It’s another perspective, not one that everyone shares. Yet I don’t know anyone who doesn’t agree that managing an ever-growing world of online content and conversations sucks up far too much of our time – and many are opting out because they simply can’t keep up.
While the grass is growing around me and the waves are crashing against a shore somewhere not far from my house, their voices are getting dimmer as the calls from my countless inboxes and browsers are getting louder.
It’s no great surprise that as technology continues to beckon us with its magic and promises, our time connected to it will increase.
But as our inboxes, IM and Twitter clients, Facebook pages and text messages continue to grow, isn’t it long overdue that we demand products that give us more time with friends, more time on mountaintops, and more time playing with our children?
We need tools that really merge and converge, not tools that only promise this. We want solutions that simplify, not complicate, and smart aggregators and personalised curators.
We need to demand solutions that humanise our daily lives and serve our personal needs. Before it catches up with us and turns us into Firefox icons.
April 07, 2010
Google vs China in CyberspaceDavid Strom writes about Cyberwars: China versus Google, what they mean, and the results.
He writes, "we just witnessed the first Cyber War, but it didn’t go down quite as many of us expected. Instead of a group of anonymous hackers trying to take over thousands of infected PCs or trying to cut off access to critical infrastructure, we saw Google declare the first salvo in its war against Chinese censorship by moving its servers to Hong Kong."
You can read the full article by clicking on the Pearltree below.
April 05, 2010
Memeburn Goes LiveMemeburn goes live, a news and opinion platform tracking tech culture, innovation and business. The new site, founded by Cape Town-based Matthew Buckland, focuses on the web, mobile, social media, online media and social networking fields.
I am a contributing blogger together with dozens of others, and although Memeburn has a particular focus on emerging markets, it tracks innovation worldwide.