Upham's Corner Online

Digital Curation - More News, More Effectively for Uphams Corner

One of the fastest growing areas of digital media mangement is known as "digital curation" or "content curation." 

Working very much like the traditional art curator, the digital curator selects digital assets (text, images, video, etc) from a potentially wide range available on the web, held privately, generated from scans, etc and presents the information to a narrow / broad targeted audience for further interpretation. 

Example:  Anna loves antique cars.  She uses Scoop.it to search for digital assets related to antique cars - pricing, shows, restoration, beautiful images, history, etc.  She sends out the collection of information as her magazine called "Anna Loves Antique Cars"  using Facebook and Twitter.  Since most of her friends also like antique cars, this is a win-win situation. 

Digital content curation consists of selecting, preserving, maintaining, collecting and archiving digital assets.  Sounds a bit complex and burdensome, but in practice, digital curation is just a clerical process of aggregation and re-presentation - simple but time-consuming. 
  • Searching takes time
  • Reviewing takes time
  • Capturing the link and creating an attractive presentation is error prone and time-consuming
  • Can only promote one link at a time !! 

In the case of Uphams Corner News, the need for a digital curation tool(s) could not have been greater. 
  • Since our inception, UCNews has sought to serve as a hub for information about events and news, not all of which is proprietary to our organization.  Some are press releases and others are articles from other local media such as the Boston Globe, Herald and Dorchester Reporter. 

  • In Spring 2012,UCNews began the series: "Links from Around the Globe" on the topic of "Sustainable Planet," broadly interpreted.

HELP was needed with these tasks for a couple reasons.
  1. While our goal is to present a broad range of relevant news, almost as if it were a smorgasbord, doing this by embedding "plain links" into text accomplishes almost nothing.  What is needed to attract anyone's attention is an image.

  2. Taking the time to summarize an article with image, or to create a new webpage limits the time available for fresh UCNews content.

Content Curation Tools - All NewbiesScoop.It Logo

Enter the world of Content Curation Tools including Storify, Paper.li and Scoop.it. 

After reviewing the capabilities and restrictions of each of these tools, UCNews identified a clear winner - Scoop.it!.  Founded in 2010, Scoop.It! describes itself as a "power publishing tool."

What Scoop.it helps you generate (almost effortlessly) is a fresh publication - a digital magazine - with content in support of your selected "theme or topic."   While most (many) of the articles point to already existing articles, you can enter your own text as well.

  1. Define one or multiple topics - so far UCNews has two:  Greater Uphams Corner and Sustainable Planet.
  2. Each topic is the foundation for a fluidly changing and updated digital magazine fully under our control.
  3. Behind the scenes, Scoop.it feeds us related articles from the web (based on keywords you provide) for our daily / weekly review. 
  4. Log in and click the "curate" button to review the proposed articles.  Want to feature one of the articles?  Click the "Scoop it" button. 
  5. Have a specific article in mind on the web?  Use the "scoop.it" browser add-on.
  6. Each use of the "scoop.it" function adds another article to the newspage, fully published. 

Tailoring the Information

Each use of the "Scoop.it" function presents to the curator key information associated with the article including title, description and image.  Change anything to suit the magazine's information needs - title, description or image.  What cannot be changed (obviously) is the article being scooped.  Scooped articles remain in the magazine until the curator removes them. 

Publishing to your Readers

There are two ways to provide readers access to the publication. 
  • Use social media to promote the primary link to the magazine. Doing so opens to the full set of articles. 
  • Embed HTML (a tailored "iframe") into your web page to provide inline access to the magazine.  Tailoring options include how many of the top (most recent) articles to present (instead of the entire page of articles), whether to scroll through the articles (animated) and how quickly to scroll (seconds).  Clicking on any article opens it in a new browser window.

How Successful has it Been?

How successful have the first couple days of use been?  The jury is still out (technical issues) but the process appears to be simple; it works every time and (most importantly) it generates a good-looking publication. 

The technical problem continued to occur when the link was provided through an IFRAME, so that was removed and replaced by direct links to the actual Scoop.It pages.

Following are documented examples which highlight "news" that would ordinarily have taken hours to include in UCNews or which would have been excluded (no time).

Google Notify
Google notifies UCNews of an article from the Arlington Patch about a first grader who was selected to appear in Jose Mateo's Nutcracker which will be showing at the Strand starting December 24.  Cool. 

Ordinarily, that would never have been included for Uphams Corner readers.  But with Scoop.it, why not include an article about an Arlington youth who WILL be on the Strand Theatre's stage in December.  Open the article and "Scoop it."  Done.

Tweet from Joel Green
Joel Green tweets about an upcoming transportation hearing which is also highlighted in the Green Dorchester Blog.  Open the blog page and "scoop it." 

That still does not give direct information about the event because it is buried in an inline link on his page.  So open the PDF flyer and "Scoop it."  We learn that Scoop.It can capture the web link, not the image or the text because it is a PDF.  So use Snagit software to capture the entire PDF as an image (doesn't matter the size of the resulting image), upload and add text to the article description.  Done.

Researching the status of the Bakersfield Arms "problem project." Discover two related articles published by the Boston Herald.  Open each and "Scoop them."  Done.  Nothing could be simpler.

Hyde Jackson Square Main Street sends out an email describing an event.  Open that page to the Constant Contact web page and "scoop it."  Done. 

:  There are NO plagiarism or copyright infringement issues because the original article is being opened.  What Scoop.It is adding to the  publishing process is a "layer of introduction" to the articles themselves.

For the readers, your content curated magazine presents articles in an easily digestible format - headline, description and image.  If anything looks interesting, click and read the original in a new browser window.  This is a lot better than "randomly" located links in the UCNews website that someday (probably) will be obsolete or "page not found." 

Finally, after the December 6th event (as an example) has passed, the UCNews editor can simply delete the article from the published page.

Meanwhile with all the time savings, UCNews can dedicate to improved original local news coverage.

Competition for Readers' Attention

In the blogosphere, the goal is to keep readers on your web page, not to distract them to other external sites.  So publishing your Scoop.it magazine using social media is exactly what you want to do since it is the primary publication.  In addition, Scoop.it tracks stats. 

With UCNews, our goal is to demonstrate a high pageview count for our own resident articles.  Adding a Scoop.it magazine (external) link to UCNews will not help Uphams Corner News demonstrate a strong readership if readers are distracted off the site. 

So why do this?  The answer is clear:  Doing good is the right thing to do.  Just that simple.