Digital Curation

Paper.li
Tweeted Times

Wow, all I can say is, “Where have you been all my life?”  At least, that’s what I thought at first when I first hooked up with paper.li and Tweeted Times for this week’s assignment.  Within a matter of a few clicks, the computer decidedly placed all who I follow in Twitter in a preset layout.  What more could a busy teacher want than to have someone organize and filter their educational tweets.  But then, I started questioning this process more.  According to Article for Library & Archives, January 2007, digital curation is the active management and appraisal of digital information over its entire life cycle.  Sure, paper.li and Tweeted Times do just that.  They actively organize and manage with regularly set updates and they approve stories to be highlighted in your paper.  However, the key word here is ‘they.’  Whose appraisal is it?  Who decidedly placed the stories and most importantly who decided the importance of the story to be highlighted?  They did.  These curation programs give users say with how often they would like these updates, but not as much say as I would like as to what information is important to me.  Therefore, proving that this form of digital curation is not quite the equal counterpart to human curation.  That is, not yet.

Is this curation or only aggregation?  Curation and aggregation both strive to gather information and push it into a defined area; however, curation takes it a step beyond simply gathering information.  It allows the user to carefully pick and choose the information to be organized.  Aggregation without curation could just create another mess of information overload for the user leading them once again to a mass of useless information.

In all honesty, I never really viewed the importance of curation until now.  I would say that human curation let alone digital curation is a weakness of mine.  I’m very good at aggregating information, but then I seem to lose direction beyond that point.  So much like some of my students.  Some students simply aggregate information in the form of papers/notes stuffed in one book or binder, while others take it a step further by carefully organizing the information into related topics with separate folders, notebooks, and binders.  And then there are some students who don’t even attempt to aggregate.  Paper.li and Tweeted Times could be an excellent stepping stone in teaching organizational skills to those students who seem to never have it together. Not only that, today’s wired students and students of the future will continually be bombarded with more digital information than they will know what to do with.  The first key to their success is and will continue to be their skill in organizing and filtering that digital information in a meaningful manner allowing them to work more efficiently on the true task at hand.  Every high school student should be exposed to digital aggregation and curation.  It appears that these digital tools are simply an extension of teaching students study skills such as how to take and organize notes in a meaningful manner laying the ground work for academic success.

As students are exposed to digital tools such as paper.li and Tweeted Times, they must be informed that the user must customize the program to benefit the user or they’ll end up with another pool of digital information lacking meaning.   The content curation can be customized according to your preferences through the use of keywords and hashtags.  I would say limited customization is a key disadvantage to these two programs.  Where RSS feeds aggregates the information the user chose then allowing the user to easily pick and choose as to what’s important to them.  I see this as an advantage over paper.li and Tweeted Times.  Another possible disadvantage to any digital curation tool is the “opportunity cost” factor.  Will people become so narrow minded and not as well-rounded citizens by limiting their exposure to only topics of choice for their daily read while missing out on other important topics?

With only working with paper.li and Tweeted Times for a short period of time, it is difficult to take a stance on one over the other.  They both serve the same purpose of digitally organizing a users information, so in the end, it may come down to the personal preference of appearance.  For me, I’m more attracted to Tweeted Times for its simpler layout that more closely resembles a newspaper layout.  However, it seems that paper.li offers more user control with keywords, hashtags, and the option to add an RSS feed.

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