Here at Idealware, we follow a whole lot of different resources -- nonprofit focused blogs, technology news, new research, major news publications, and more-- to understand what's going on in the technology world that might be of interest to nonprofits, and to bring the best of what we find to Idealware readers through Twitter, our Best of the Web roundup, and (soon!) this blog.
For us, that involves a process where all staff members follow specific blogs and publications and flag relevant articles. A point person (usually me) actually reads, or at least skims, all the resources that anyone flagged, and mark particularly good ones for Twitter. And from there, we winnow down what we publish on Twitter, Facebook, the blog and other sources.
Although I suspect that a number of organizations are doing or would benefit from doing something similar to follow a lot of news sources on their own focus area, this process is suprisingly hard to support with low-cost software.
We're currently doing most of it through a somewhat strange use of Instapaper -- a free tool designed to allow individuals to flag things for themselves to read later through a quick bookmarklet tool. Everyone at Idealware uses the same Instapaper acccount to flag articles in their browser. All these articles then appear in a single "Read Later" list in Instapaper. Instapaper makes it easy to print all these articles or -- as I typically do -- automatically send yourself a digest to read on your mobile device of choice.
So I typically read the articles offline (or skim them online, in busy times) and simply archive those that I don't think are very useful or particularly related to choosing software (our mission). If they do seem useful, I move them into a "For Twitter" folder within Instapaper, and add a short description. Andrea then uses that folder of articles as part of her Twitter and Facebook strategies, to combine with other posts and re-tweets. When she's posted something, she currently just archives it, but we've been thinking about trying to group them by category to be able to post resource roundups on the blog by topic, which seems like it would work well.
The Instapaper route is working okay for us, but it seems like a really roundabout strategy for collecting and curating resources -- which you would think would be a common thing to want to do. But we haven't been able to find a lot of other options. Strangely, many of the services which say they're about curating content-- like paper.ly-- don't let you do any moderatation by hand. They only aggregate things from particular feeds or keywords. Which could be useful to someone, but is basically worthless to us, as we're literally following dozens (maybe hundreds) of feeds in order to filter down to maybe about six resources a day.
Google Reader will allow some substantial portion of what we need to do, but it's somewhat awkward for lots of people to flag resources into a single place (unless they're all always using Reader themselves, which isn't the case for us), and the features to allow you to read offline aren't as useful as Instapaper. It does, however, let you create your own annotated feed of resources, and do some sorting of resources.
Scoop.it is another interesting option in this realm. Scoop.it does let people (including the general public) flag articles into a pool, and then provides functionality for one or multiple people to choose articles from that pool to publish into an online magazine type of format, with your own descriptions. It's pretty compelling if your end goal is to publish a nice looking online roundup of resources, but internally, we're not sure about having a whole other public channel to pay attention to, and there doesn't seem to be an easy way to limit who can see your "magazine."
What are you using to do content curation? Any great tools that we've overlooked? We'd love to find a better way!
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