Information Professional as ‘curator’ = #alt-LIS


Thinking lately about my role in the information professions and I’m grow more and more convinced that due to my interests and the changing roles of professionals in the networked world, my “career” will end up being a combination of many things, and across my many interests – to re-purpose a digital humanities term, I see myself creating jobs/titles for myself in and around the library, archive, museum world that can only be called “alt-LIS.” 

To that end, I was inspired by Kim Dority’s recent post on the new book “Curation Nation” and how people trained in librarianship will fill the roles of content and data curators. My thoughts below – 

You know, I think there is more to this than we may think. The way I am seeing it, reading lots of tech blogs and emerging tech/digital humanities stuff, is that content curation is absolutely a skill that is married to the social and semantic web. Thinking about, and being involved in those areas is key to content curation. I also think there is a important distinction between content and data here: curating data often requires more CompSci skills whereas content seems to be more LIS or humanities based. (This goes back to a core Library School discussion of data vs. information). Right now, I think it is fair and accurate to say that no one has any idea that people trained in librarianship are perfect candidates for the emerging curation field. As for you question of additional skills? I think coding is a must and a deep understanding of networks, Information Technology and databases (all part of my post grad personal goals). To be perfectly honest, in my mind the quintessential Information (data+content) Curator would have a humanities background, with graduate degrees in CompSci and LIS.

I’m incredibly interested in this topic too, and really excited to see how I fit into the growing field in the future. Thanks for this post Dr. Dority. I plan to pick up and read this book the day after classes end!



{Series} Toolshare – Pinboard

Tagline: Pinboard. It’s worth paying for (despite the fact I got it for free!)

As we’re all are looking ahead into 2011 it should come as no surprise that our favorite buzzword “curation” will have a major stake in culling the oft-touted information overload. Whether you will be wrangling data or bookmarking content, you’ll probably be utilizing a web app to assist your filtering processes. As the Delicious giant has fallen from grace, the bookmarking market has opened up to other possibilities., Storify,, and Diigo rose quickly as contenders, and each has its own fill of the curation market. Luckily for me, Pinboard offered free accounts to librarians as a Christmas gift, and thus far, it sets the bar very high for the other services. Allow me to break it down for you.

The best bookmarking web app will depend, of course, on what you want out of it. Some people really enjoy the social aspect, others simply want a way to save interesting articles for future reference. Personally, I want to compile a gigantic database of all things that I find to be interesting or important on the web, easily grabbed, saved and organized, public and RSS-able, and indexed and searchable. Not too much to ask, right? That’s where Pinboard comes in.

This is the interface - very minimalist.

At first glance, Pinboard looks, feels and acts eerily like a certain social bookmarking site many of us were so used to. The added bonus? Pinboard offers to suck in important content that you mark on other sites. For instance, after scanning my RSS feeds, I can use Google Reader Shared Items to push the articles I read or deem valuable out, my new friend Pinboard grabs those items and files them right next to the tweet I just favorited, the website I just bookmarked in Delicious, and the article I just saved for later in Instapaper. All in one minimalist, smooth interface. Oh, and they kept that old “tag” idea too.

The value and utility of the tags applied to public bookmarks has been discussed in depth already, and compared to other curation apps that place less emphasis on tags, Pinboard gives tags the full-frontal treatment, right there in a fancy sidebar, ready for your organizing pleasure. They also offer a fix to a common problem I often come up against – bookmarking while mobile. Simply email the bookmark to your secret Pinboard email address, and into the hopper it goes. On top of all that they already have an extensive list of upcoming features that look really useful.

Comparatively, Pinboard stands out in a different category than or Storify, which act closer to the art world’s definition of curation. Looking for an ultimate, bookmark/favorite tagging content sucking awesome machine? Look no further, Pinboard is here.

I have compiled a spreadsheet comparing some of the top contenders for bookmarking – CLICK HERE

What features do you care to use with a bookmarking service? Have you had any good or bad experiences with any of these?

R.I.P. Delicious – or – Data Curation Thrust Into The Limelight

Yesterday I experienced an amazing thing. Around 2pm the interwebs went aflutter with the news that Delicious, the popular social bookmarking site, was going the way of the buffalo. I heard it first in the ReadWriteWeb editorial room, where I hang out as an intern, and then it spread like wildfire through the variety of communities I follow on Twitter (higher ed, academics, librarians/info pros, cultural journalists and webtech folks mainly.) As of right now, 1am Friday morning, there still has not been an official confirmation of what exactly is going to happen to the service from its parent company Yahoo.

However… the aforementioned amazing thing… the power of the social web kicked in and people started to talk to one another. At around 5pm, I saw this tweet from Laura Pasquini linking to a Google Doc of alternatives to Delicious. I was at the time writing a quick post for my Tumblr on a few services I had heard chatted about on Twitter throughout the afternoon, and this Doc had them all in there, with Pros and Cons. In the midst of all this, Marshall Kirkpatrick posted his love letter to Delicious, which I helped do some research on, so I started to monitor comments on his post for further engagement (as any good intern would do).

As the news grew and spread throughout the evening, I saw all kinds of new ideas, cool looking web apps to try out, and different ways of imagining data all being discussed because a valuable service we have grown so accustomed to might be shutting down.

The best part? I think this was a real kick in the pants that will get all sorts of different groups (computer science, digital humanists, techies, web geeks, information professionals, etc.) talking about the one thing we are all coming face to face with in the ever-expanding social web – data/content curation.

This is a topic I have grown really interested in over the past few months, and will be following very closely in the future. Now, I just have to find out how and where to save all my links, articles, and research. Where will you be moving your bookmarks?

Articles on the shuttering of Delicious:

HuffPo, TechCrunch, Gizmodo

Alternate services to check out:

Evernote,, kippt, pinboard,, and Blekko

I’m in process of beefing up my Curation Twitter list also. Follow if you’d like. Who do I need to add?