THING 15: DIGITAL CURATION

Digital curation

What is digital curation? Traditionally, we think of a curator as someone who selects objects, interprets context and manages collections in a musuem. But it also describes what any professional might do with their “collections”! If you’ve ever selected, evaluated and organized a collection of great web resources for a research project, then you’re a curator!

curating with devicesSo why the explosion of interest in digital curation? With a mind-boggling amount of content on the Internet, content that varies enormously in quality, there’s huge value in relying on experts to select the best content for a topic. And with that need, many new tools have been developed to make it easy for anyone to select, collect and share their own collections of digital resources.

Ironically, this harkens back to early days of the web, when we had easy-to-use directories of good resources that were curated for us. Anyone remember Yahoo’s Subject Directory? OpenDirectory? And even earlier, the InfoSlug directory of resources in Gopher servers. The difference is now anyone can easily be a curator, which of course leads to the challenge of evaluating which curated collections are the best, most authoritative, most complete, up to date, etc.

Digital Humanities

The role of curator has traditionally been played by professionals in libraries, museums and galleries. Digital ‘artefacts’ are more freely available and manipulable, and can be curated by anyone. What are the principles of effective curation? One issue to consider is that of copyright, intellectual property and acknowledgement. If curation entails making use of resources created by others, and if digital artefacts can be easily removed from context, changed and shared, then it is important to make ethical and legal use of them.

Evaluation

Digital content curation is far less labour-intensive than creating your own digital content, but you are limited in terms of copyright and the types of information you can curate (largely publically available social media and websites). Would curating therefore act as an effective commentary on your professional activities as a researcher and help to position you as an expert, or are the available digital sources too far removed from what you do?

Integration

You might choose to collate resources on a particular occasion or for a particular purpose, in which case you will need to make time to do so especially; you might also integrate curation with issues which you yourself are interested in finding out more about, so it becomes a routine by-product. If you have installed the bookmarklets, then curating content as you find it in the course of your usual online searching will be easy. How will you maintain an overview of your curation over the longer term so that it remains coherent? How often will you need to update for your curation to remain relevant? How will you make sure that your intended audience is aware of what you offer, by integrating it with other aspects of your online presence?

Tools, tools, tools to explore

Tumblr

Tumblr is a microblogging site that allows users to post text, photos, music, video, GIFs, and links.  It’s a fast growing and social curation site that allows as much or as little anonymity as its users want so they can connect with the world, or just select friends.

Users can follow other users and view content directly on a user’s page/blog or in their own content feed on their Dashboard.

Users can create and share their own content, or curate content on a particular topic or theme from elsewhere on Tumblr or the web by re-blogging.

One of the features of Tumblr is the way it creates communities, in particular Tumblr has a very strong anti-bullying, anti-discrimination, and anti-hate sentiment. Communities support and encourage individuality making it a great space for exploration and creativity.

Some Tumblr Suggestions:

American Museum of Natural History – The American Museum of Natural History in New York City houses more than 33 million specimens and artefacts relating to the natural world and human cultures.

RadioLab – RadioLab are a popular and widely recognised podcast which uses state-of-the-art sound design, mind-bending story-telling, and a sense of humour to ask big questions and blur the boundaries between science, philosophy, and human experience. Their tumblr is just as rich and fascinating.

People of colour in European Art History – The focus of this blog is to showcase works of art from European history that feature People of Colour. All too often, these works go unseen in museums, Art History classes, online galleries, and other venues.

Museum of Selfies – When Olivia Muus (curator) and a  friend  went to the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen she took a picture for fun and liked how this simple thing could change the artwork’s character and give their facial expression a whole new meaning.

Anyone can join in by submitting their own selfie at museumofselfies@gmail.com or Instagram #museumofselfies

Storify

Storify is a online curation tool that allows users to create a timeline or story by embedding text, tweets, YouTube videos, SoundCloud tracks, news articles, webpages, Instagram pictures, Facebook posts, Gifs, Flicker images, and more, into a coherent, meaningful narrative. Content can be searched for with the Storify tool and then drag and dropped to the appropriate place on the timeline.You can reorder, comment, add and delete to edit your ‘story’, as well as notify the original authors that their content has been included. You can then embed these stories into your other platforms, for example, your blog. For examples of Storify in use, see CRASSH’s website, which makes extensive use of Storify to publicise and capture the events it runs. You could also see the storify of the twitter chat held between Oxford and Cambridge’s 23things programmes!

Storify stories are then published on Storify, but can also be embedded in other pages on the web for syndication and sharing elsewhere. If you would like to create an account and make your own Storify, Mindy McAdams a professor of Journalism at the University of Florida has created an excellent YouTube video walking through the process.

Scoop.it

Set up an account on Scoop.it. You can do so with an existing Facebook account if you are comfortable with this, or create an account separately with an email address.

Start by creating a topic, remembering to think carefully about your keywords, as this metadata is the means by which others will find your topic but also the mechanism by which Scoop.it will identify content it thinks you might wish to rescoop. You can change the keywords, or the platforms that Scoop.it searches (blogs, Twitter, Youtube, Google) in ‘manage’ and ‘manage sources’ in each topic.

It might be helpful to install the ‘scoop.it bookmarklet’, a button which appears in your browser bookmarks so you can scoop content quickly rather than going to the scoop.it webpage.

See what content has been suggested for you, and scoop and comment on anything that looks relevant to your chosen topic. Alternatively, you can add webpages you’ve found independently using the bookmarklet or the ‘New Scoop’ button at the top of your Scoop.it homepage. Scoop.it will also send you content periodically by email update which might help you to spot relevant information you might have missed. If you use Paper.li in connection with Twitter to collate the webpages shared by your Twitter contacts, then this is another source of suggested content for you to curate.

Decide which of your other social media platforms you want to link Scoop.it to, so that your topics and updates will be promoted there, in the ‘settings’ in your profile. When your contacts click on one of your shared links through Twitter, they will be sent to your Scoop.it page, where they can see the rest of your topic magazine.

Pocket

Pocket is a great way to collect any online articles or videos that you want to view later. You can save to it directly from a browser, or from Twitter, Zite, Feedly and other apps. The user interface on Pocket is much more attractive than Evernote, and it makes it a pleasure to browse and view the collection. However, apart from tagging, there doesn’t seem to be any ability to sort Pocket, which limits its usefulness. Pocket is useful for shorter term collections, and to return to interesting blogs and articles that you haven’t had time to read.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a social media tool that allows you to bookmark content around the web in a visually pleasing arrangement, allowing you collect, organise and share all at the same time. The social networking features of Pinterest are built around the activity of collecting digital images and videos, and, in Pinterest terms, pinning them to a pinboard (collection). Content is organised around boards, which are split into themes. You can add visuals to your own, or other people’s boards, either by clicking a special button in your browser, adding the URL or uploading images from your computer. The boards reflect a person’s lifestyle, and the objects which define it.

Terms for the Pinterest newbie:

  • Pins – images that link back to articles and other types of resources.
  • Boards – collections of pins related to a single topic. You create your own boards based on your interests.
  • Pinners – People using pinterest.
  • Followers – Other pinners who are interested in seeing what you pin
  • Pin It Button – Add this to your browser toolbar to make it easy to pin something.
  • Repin – If you see a pin you like in someone else’s account, you can Repin it to your boards.
  • Following – This is your main page of Pinterest, you’ll see all the latest pins from everyone you’ve chosen to follow.

OneNote and ClassNotebook

OneNote is a digital note taking app that allows you to take notes (handwritten or typed), create and save drawings, screen clippings, pictures, dictation, and audio commentaries.s, (PCs, laptops, tablets, iPads, iPhones, etc.) and is also accessible online. Notebooks can also be shared and edited by multiple people..All your notes can be synced over multiple devices.

It also has excellent OCR (Optical Character Recognition) across the platform. This means that any text in an image, screen clipping, or handwriting saved to OneNote is searchable. You can also use this feature to convert text in an image, screen clipping, or handwritten notes into a readable text file.

Class Notebook

ClassNotebook is an additional tool that allows teachers to create and share a notebook with a class, including individual student notebooks, homework exercises, grading, and feedback. It can include audio and video recordings, and has drawing tools to highlight, annotate slides, sketch diagrams, and take handwritten notes.

Where to find OneNote and Class Notebook

OneNote is available as a part of Microsoft Office and Windows 10, and both OneNote and Class Notebook are part of the Office 365 package available for staff and students at Charles Sturt University.  Users can also download an offline version to use on their Laptop/mobile.

Top tip: To sync up your mobile device One Note with Office 365 or your PC/Mac version you will need to sign in. To do this click on ‘Create New Notebook’ you will then be prompted to log in, use your Office 365 or other login details. Once logged in click on the folder icon at the bottom of the screen to access any Notebooks saved to your Office 365 or PC account.

Interactive Guidance Videos

These videos (click the screen to skip or move on to the next step) have been provided by Microsoft Office and provide a great introduction to using both OneNote and Class Notebook with three training/guidance options:

Discipline-specific

Digital curation tools encourage you to select articles, photos, videos, tweets, web sites and other online content about a topic or idea and organize them into a coherent collection that you can share with others. Some digital curation tools let the curator add notes to explain context, offer opinions and ask questions. These collections can be great resources for discovering and keeping up with information.

What audiences might you curate information for, and what curation expertise might you offer that they would find valuable? Audiences might include your peers, colleagues in your discipline or institution, students or the general public. Consider also the types of information which these platforms lend themselves to  – traditional forms of academic publishing (journal articles and books) are not so easy to curate in this way. What might curation of other types of digital source (social media, websites, etc) contribute to developing your role as an expert online?  Some suggested uses:

  • Give expert commentary on debates, issues and events currently discussed in social media and websites
  • Offer a coherent overview for peers of online resources on a theme or research area
  • Publicise events you are involved in, such as conferences or public engagement, which have an online presence
  • Engage with the impact agenda, by curating social and online media as a commentary on your research area
  • Collate resources for your students

A key quality of social media is that it is immediate and up-to-date. In the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, however, the age of information does not have quite the same value; it often does not go ‘out of date’ so fast. Will you set yourself any criteria in terms of the age of content you are curating?

Evaluation

Digital content curation is far less labour-intensive than creating your own digital content, but you are limited in terms of copyright and the types of information you can curate (largely publically available social media and websites). Would curating therefore act as an effective commentary on your professional activities as a researcher and help to position you as an expert, or are the available digital sources too far removed from what you do?

Integration

You might choose to collate resources on a particular occasion or for a particular purpose, in which case you will need to make time to do so especially; you might also integrate curation with issues which you yourself are interested in finding out more about, so it becomes a routine by-product. If you have installed the bookmarklets, then curating content as you find it in the course of your usual online searching will be easy. How will you maintain an overview of your curation over the longer term so that it remains coherent? How often will you need to update for your curation to remain relevant? How will you make sure that your intended audience is aware of what you offer, by integrating it with other aspects of your online presence?


Try this

Try using OneNote on your laptop/device.

  • Create a new Notebook, add some sections, pages, and try out the features. Use the Interactive Guidance Videos to learn your way around the platform. Write a short blog post detailing your use of OneNote and how this may/may not be of benefit to you.

Explore further

Further reading

Hall, C. and Zarro, M. (2012), Social curation on the website Pinterest.com. Proc. Am. Soc. Info. Sci. Tech., 49: 1–9. doi:10.1002/meet.14504901189

Wang, R., Yang, F., Zheng, S., & Sundar, S. S. (2016). Why do we pin? New gratifications explain unique activities in Pinterest. Social Media+ Society, 2(3), 2056305116662173.
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