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November 20, 2011 / carlispina

Highlight the Connections Between Curated Content with Pearltrees

Having heard a lot about Pearltrees over the last several months, I decided it was worth giving it a try. Pearltrees differs from many content curation services because of its unique design and user interface, which organizes all of the “pearls” or content that users add to the site into “pearltrees.” This emphasizes the way that the various pieces of content are connected to one another and allows users to create mindmaps out of internet links.

These features were well-suited to the content that I wanted to collect on the upcoming ALA Midwinter Meeting and Annual Conference, so it seemed like the perfect time to finally give Pearltrees a try. Getting started with the service is easy and after you have created your account, a tutorial is automatically launched. While you can skip the tutorial, it is both brief and informative for new users. Creating pearltrees and adding pearls to the trees is a fairly self-explanatory process, so the tutorial isn’t absolutely necessary. All pearltrees are associated with a user’s screenname and profile as illustrated by this picture of my current pearltrees.  Users initially start out with both a Help tree and a Pearltrees videos tree that make it easy to access additional information about how to make the best use of the service, but both of these trees can be removed or deleted later. Sharing Pearls and Pearltrees is made easy with integrated sharing options that allow users to share links, embedded pearltrees on blogs or websites or share them via other social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter, both of which can be integrated with Pearltrees accounts. Pearltrees is also a great way to discover new content and see how other people have visualized the connection between information. From your account, there are links to related content or popular pearltrees as well as a search bar to discover additional content.

Once you have gotten started with the service, there are a number of tools available to make it easier to add pearls and integrate the process into your web browsing. The service offers plugins and bookmarklets for many browsers so that websites can be added to the account or to a specific pearltree with a click or two. Once items are added to a tree, they can be rearranged by dragging and dropping them. The user interface also includes a “drop zone” where users can put pearls while they are being rearranged. This combination of tools and features speeds the process of developing pearltrees that illustrate the connections between the content being curated. This already-convenient user interface is even better in the iPad app, where all of these functions can be done using the touchscreen. I found the free iPad app to be an even more user-friendly interface, which is impressive.

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