BYOD4L Day Three – Curating

The topic for day three of #BYOD4L is curating, and I thought I’d reflect on it through considering my sources, my stores, my outputs and finish with other potential channels.

Sources screenshot

Photo: info_grrl (CC BY-SA 2.0)

I use RSS feeds a lot, and currently have almost 450 feeds organised into thirteen categories, with around half of those feeds being directly related to work. The categories include work, web development and coding, personal, environment, journals and trial. I use Feedly  at the moment, although over the past couple of years I’ve tried quite a few readers. I used Google Reader, then moved to the Old Reader when Google shut their service down. Then I resurrected my old bloglines account, before finally moving to Feedly. So one of the important things for me about a reader is that it needs really good import and export facilities.

Twitter is another main source. I’m following nearly 1300 people on my @DuncanGreenhill account (in nine lists), plus a number who are on lists but not followed (as I explained in my day two reflection). My other account (@ourCommonOceans) has only been set up for about eight weeks and is following 135 people, many of whom were on the ‘Marine Issues’ list on my named account.

In Google+ I’ve circled around 1400 people in eighteen circles, and have a couple of other circles where I’m the only member. That seems strange, to circle yourself, but I have a ‘read later’ circle so that I can temporarily bookmark a post but keep it within the Google+ service.

In Facebook I’ve joined a number of groups concerned with marine conservation, including groups set up to help with identification. So what I have there is access to a group of very knowledgeable people that can identify organisms down to species level, which is an incredible learning opportunity for me (I live quite a distance from the sea so my ID skills are quite rusty).

My final source is email. I get some information from mailing lists, but I also get a lot of journal contents alerts through email.


I use Diigo for bookmarking, having migrated from delicious a couple of years ago. Although I did use the network features in Delicious, I tend not to use them in Diigo, but I couldn’t really give you a reason why. Perhaps because while bookmarks can be mobile, networks are much less so.

I use a wiki running on my PC to ‘store’ my notes and thoughts. There will be project documentation, course notes, notes I’ve made on reading particular papers, and many others. It’s an unusual approach, but one that works for me. It makes the process active – I have to physically collect and order my thoughts before I can enter them into the wiki. There is a time penalty to this, but I’ve found the advantages outweigh the benefits. In effect, it’s an external sum of knowledge, actively added to, searchable, and easily amended. I know some use blogs for the same purpose, but I prefer to have a more private space where I don’t want to worry about how it appears to others while I work through something.

And of course I use the usual network/local folders for document storage, and for citation management I use an open source Java application JabRef.


My outputs are Twitter, Google+ and my two blogs. My named twitter account has over 600 followers and my marine account has 24. On Google+, I’m in the circles of 667 people. The blogs are relatively low traffic, although that’s improving. For this blog, I think that’s down to the frequency of posts, and for Our Common Oceans I think it’s down to only really becoming active with that blog over the last couple of months.

Other channels and final thoughts

I may consider more overtly curated outputs such as or would need to be carefully used. I get quite a few notifications on Twitter and often they’re not focussed enough for me – there’s simply not enough signal to outweigh the noise. If I were to use it, I would have to take great care choosing and filtering my sources, and I’d probably steer away from a daily publication towards a weekly one. The aim would be to give decent content once a week, rather than a daily dose of (mostly) irrelevance. I’ve found that the scoop.its that I get via RSS feeds tend to be of a higher quality.

One thing that I’ve noticed from my posts over the past three days is that I categorise the bejebus out of everything – Twitter lists, Google circles, Feedly categories – mainly I think to create smaller contexts that I can switch between as and when I need to. It reminds my a lot of David Allen’s Getting Things Done, where the lists of next actions (to do list) is organised not by project but by context or location. And a final reflection for today – if information had calories, I think my health would be in serious trouble.


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