Content Curation: Why I'm Not Your Target Audience [en]

[fr] Je suis trop efficace avec un moteur de recherche pour être très emballée par les divers outils qui visent à organiser la masse de contenu à disposition sur le web, en temps réel ou non.

In Paris, I had a sudden flash of insight (during a conversation with somebody, as often). Most services designed to help with content curation don’t immediately appeal to me because I’m not their target audience: I’m too good at using search.

I was trying to figure out why, although I liked the idea behind PearlTrees and SmallRivers (I tried them out both briefly), part of me kept thinking they weren’t really adding anything that we couldn’t already do. Well, maybe not that exactly, but I couldn’t really see the point. For example: “PearlTrees, it’s just bookmarking with pretty visual and social stuff, right?” or “SmallRivers, we already have hyperlinks, don’t we?” — I know this is unfair to both services, and they go beyond that, but somehow, for me, it just didn’t seem worth the effort.

And that’s the key bit: not worth the effort. When I need to find something I’ve seen before, I search for it. I understand how a search engine works (well, way more than your average user, let’s say) and am pretty good at using it. I gave up using bookmarks years ago (today, I barely use delicious anymore — just look at my posting frequency there). I stick things in Evernote and Tumblr because I can search for them easily afterwards. I don’t file my e-mail, or even tag it very well in gmail — I just search when I need a mail. I don’t organize files much on my hard drive either, save for some big drawers like “client xyz”, business, personal, admin — and those are horribly messy.

I search for stuff. And to be honest, now that I’ve discovered Google Web History, I’m not sure what else I could ever ask for. It embodies an old old fantasy of mine: being able to restrict a fulltext search to pages I’ve visited in a certain timeframe. “Damn, where did I put this?” becomes a non-issue when you can use Google search over a subset of the web which contains all the pages you’ve ever loaded up in your browser. (Yeah, privacy issues, certainly.)

What about the social dimension of these curation tools? Well, I’m a blogger. I blog. When I want to share, I put stuff in my blog, or Tumblr. I’m actually starting to like PearlTrees for that, because it is a nice way of collecting and ordering links — but really, I’m not the kind of person who has a lot of patience for that kind of activity. Some people spend time keeping their bookmarks, e-mails, or files in order. I don’t — there are way too many more interesting things for me to spend my time on. So I keep things in a mess, and when I need something out of them, I search.

I think I’m just not a content curator, aside from my low-energy activities like tweeting, tumblring, and blogging.

It doesn’t mean there is no need for content curation, of the live stream or more perennial content like “proper” web pages. But just like some people are bloggers and some aren’t, I think some people are curators and some aren’t.

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Content Curation: Pearltrees, SmallRivers [en]

[fr] Tentative d'utilisation de Pearltrees et SmallRivers. Ça semble intéressant mais pour le moment j'ai l'impression que soit quelque chose m'échappe, soit qu'ils sont en train de réinventer la roue.

If you’re at LeWeb’09, you’ve heard of Pearltrees. They’re offering an interface/platform to help people curate web content by collecting it (bookmarking it?) in the shape of “pearls”. SmallRivers are a Lausanne startup which are also in the content curating business, by allowing people to network pages together by inserting some code in the page.

I’m trying both, unfortunately with not exactly enough energy and time to do it properly. But I already have a few comments.

In a way, this kind of content curation is already possible. Blogs, wikis, and even stupid old webpages with hypertext (hypertext!) allow this. So, is the revolution simply in the interface? In some element of social auto-discovery? Part of me is excited by new services in this space, but I’m also pretty skeptical. Is this just reinventing the wheel in a pretty wrapping?

The question I always want to ask is the following: what exactly does this new shiny service do that I cannot already do (or almost do) with my existing tools, and which will justify the overhead of investing in a new space or service?

For the moment, I am “not getting” either Pearltrees or SmallRivers, but as I said, I have just given them an initial “does it click?” look. I have my pearltree account (not much in it yet) in which I’ll try to place interesting posts about the conference when I have a moment. I also tried to create a “LeWeb’09” network with SmallRivers but think I messed up a little. If you go to my initial post on the LeWeb’09, you’ll see a little widget at the bottom which opens up a sidebar to which you can connect other posts about LeWeb’09. Give it a try and we’ll see if we can build something. (Basically: click on widget, click the connect button in the sidebar, copy the javascript code and paste it into your post.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about content curation during this conference — it’s a topic that the “real-time web” really brings to the forefront. Expect more posts on the topic.

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