Curating content online is a fairly hot topic these days – information overload being what it is, folk tend to like it when someone spends a bit of time picking the wheat from the chaff for them.
It doesn’t have to be too time-consuming an exercise either and there are lots of tools to help you put together a workflow that puts the web to work for you, rather than the other way around.
Here’s mine. It may work for you, or just bits of it. Don’t feel the need to copy it all if you don’t want to, or indeed ignore everything if it all seems utterly idiotic to you.
The place to start is with my chosen service for RSS subscriptions. I know people keep saying that RSS is dead as a way to consume content, but it continues to work for me. I use Feedly to subscribe to about 800 feeds from various sites. I rarely read them all – there are a few sites I especially look out for, but generally I treat it as a stream to dip into rather than a list that must all be read. To this end, I always mark everything as read on a Sunday evening so I can start the week with a blank slate.
Here’s the thing though, I don’t actually use the Feedly web interface at all – I just use it as the synchronisation service to manage my subscriptions and to ensure that they are up to date across my various devices. My preferred client to actually read through the content from my feeds is Reeder 2 on my Mac, iPhone, and iPad. The interface is just one that I am comfortable with and it makes reading through stuff a joy.
When I decide something is worth saving and sharing, I bookmark it using Pinboard. I used to be a big fan of Delicious, but since the various changes of ownership of that service, I decided to go somewhere a bit more reliable, hence Pinboard – an indie service that you have to pay for. I bookmark stuff either by using the helpful button within Reeder, or by opening the item in a browser and using a bookmarklet button. I’m a bit lazy and tend to just leave the title as is – with the odd edit for length (see later) and don’t bother adding a description. I do tag things though, and try to limit myself to just one or two tags.
Everything I bookmark appears on Twitter shortly afterwards, thanks to a recipe on IFTTT. IFTTT is a super useful service that helps you build up automated workflows triggered by online activity. So, in this case, IFTTT spots when I add a new bookmark in Pinboard, and then tweets it for me. I make IFTTT put some quote marks around the title of the article which I think helps to distinguish it from something I have written myself.
With this Twitter process in mind, I will often amend the title of the bookmark, knowing that it is the main bit that gets tweeted. I might add a hashtag, for instance, or @ mention the author to add a little context, without breaking the meaning when the link is viewed in other contexts.
I save everything I bookmark for later reading into Pocket, thanks to another IFTTT script. This is especially useful for longer items. Pocket saves a copy of the articles I save locally on my phone, so if I have a spare few minutes at any time, there’s always something interesting to read.
I include several links in my email newsletter. Right now this is a manual process – when writing the email, I scan through my recent bookmarks in Pinboard and pull out the most interesting ones, then write a bit of commentary about them. This could be automated via Mailchimp’s feature to build an email through the RSS feed generated by Pinboard, but I suspect this would end up taking more work to edit and so on than I currently expend doing it manually.
Articles I curate only currently appear in the footer of my blog as a widget called ‘Link list’. I very much doubt anybody looks at it. In the past I did have automated posts collecting recently bookmarked links together, which I lost when I recently rehosted my site. I ought to look into reinstating this, as I think it can be pretty useful.
What others are doing
I asked on Twitter how others curate, and these are the responses I got by the time of publishing this post:
What is your curation workflow? It would be great to hear about it!