Social news curation is one of the latest social media tools to promise to make our online lives easier, more streamlined, and much more manageable. But does it live up to the hype? We take a detailed look at the top three social news curation tools to see whether they truly organize the news coming from our social networks, or just add another layer of logins, confused layouts, and information-overload to our social networking experience. Read on for the verdict on social news curation.
For those who have yet to experiment with these tools, social news curation is a service that gathers and displays all of the news happening on your social network. Two of the three social news curation services below focus on Twitter, pulling out links and displaying them for you in a newspaper format. The third accesses both Facebook and Twitter, and displays the media/news shared on these networks in a magazine format.
Now, social news curation should not be confused with social network organizational tools. Curation services are concerned with media that’s being shared on your network, especially links to news stories, pictures, and video. They present this information in a sort of upgraded traditional media format, like the digital newspapers and magazines below, and this is intended for you to browse – not necessarily interact with. Social news curation is like a micro-editor attached to your social network, filtering and presenting you with newsworthy information that you can read all in one place. Organizational tools on the other hand are designed to aggregate your social networks into a single location on the web, and allow you to post status updates, respond to message and perform other social tasks.
Paper.li creates a newspaper-styled web page around your Twitter account. You can create a newspaper around a user you follow, a hashtag, or a list. These newspapers are updated once every 24 hours, and all of the links that are shared in that group are displayed as news articles. The great thing about Paper.li is that you can define the content of your newspaper based on whose links or what hashtag you find most interesting. The layout includes sub-sections for topics such as Technology, Business, Politics and Arts & Entertainment, and Paper.li does a pretty good job of searching the content for keywords in order to sort them appropriately.
The Twitter Tim.es is a service similar to paper.li. However, rather than organizing links shared on Twitter by topic, Twitter Times serves up your daily Twitter news in a two-column layout, ordered roughly by how many followers and followers of followers have re-tweeted that story. This gives you a good snapshot of the topics that are making their way around your Twitter-verse.
Flipboard is only for the iPad, so if you don’t have one, you won’t get to take it for a test drive. However, it is a more robust application than the previous two, in that it accesses both your Twitter and Facebook social networks for information. The data it gathers – videos, pictures and links that your friends and people you follow share – is presented in an intuitive magazine layout, and it includes the ability to like on Facebook, comment, and otherwise interact with the content rather than just passively presenting it.
The final word on social news curation services? They’re still in their infancy, but it looks like there will be a fair bit of competition – and thus improvements – in the future. This type of tool could be especially useful for journalists or industry insiders who follow/friend people in their field, as they would have access to a one-stop source of everything that’s being talked about within their circle. It is perhaps less useful for someone using a social network purely as a social network, as pictures of your friend’s friend’s baby might be interesting, but is likely not breaking news. Keep your eyes on these three services and others to pop up in this space – it’s one to watch.