What does it do?
Do you want to be a Librarian? Probably not - but we at Digital Friday think you probably behave like a Librarian occasionally...organising your CD collection or your bookshelf into alphabetical (or some other) order, tagging photographs with locations, terms or words that help you retrieve them, or circulating useful weblinks to colleagues or fellow students. Pearltrees is a smart app that helps you become 'curator' of the resources you use online, whether for work or for personal interests. You can create and share collections of information, resources, links, images, video clips, personal notes. This is effectively what Librarians do for a living. Pearltrees therefore makes Librarians of us all - but don't let that put you off!
How does it work?
Pearltrees allows you to collect useful webpages in one place, something we used to call social bookmarking but which is now becoming known as digital curation. There are many ways to add content to your Pearltrees collections. You can keep everything in one collection or create many themed collections, and even set up sub-collections within collections. Each resource you gather is termed a Pearl.
- You can add by entering the URL of the webpage
- You can upload files from your own PC - documents, images etc.
- You can upload files from file sharing platforms such as Dropbox or Google Drive
- You can sync with social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, and upload postings, tweets, photos or other links which you yourself have posted on a social media channel
- You can install the Pearltrees web clipper to your browser (I used Chrome to do this without a problem) - simply click on the clipper button while on a webpage or resource and it'll be added as a Pearl to your collection
- You can create notes with a simple textpad to explain or describe something
- You can use drag and drop to lift and shift images across into a collection
Your collections are visible to other Pearltrees users, and you can share them using a variety of means;
- On a website or other location using embedded html code
- Via a contact list of Pearltrees users
- By sharing through an automatically-generated email using your Outlook account
- By linking a collection straight to social media - Twitter, Facebook
- By linking a collection to blogging tools such as Google+ and Tumblr
- By generating a QR code to share with others
Pearltrees works across all your devices - connect your web account to the free app versions for tablet or phone, and you can stay in touch with your Pearls wherever you are and whatever your device of choice may be.
We here at Digital Friday would have liked to see a feature allowing you to tag Pearls with headings or categories (which would allow you to be even more like a Librarian), but we don't seem to be able to find this facility on the website tool. There's a search facility which might offset that slight failing, but to be truly curatorial, Pearltrees needs to be searchable via tag/metadata.
When would you use it?
Students would use Pearltrees as a means of collecting a variety of resources in different media in a single place, and would be useful as a resource centre for essays, assignments, projects or dissertations. It could also be used to share resources among a group for collaboration...indeed, you could even set up what is called a Pearltrees Teams account that could be shared among several students allowing you to assemble and manage your Pearls collectively.
Teaching Staff might find it useful to use with students. Grab a clutch of resources - from around the Web, from your local PC, anywhere - and publish it to students as a resource to start the learning journey...an augmented reading list, perhaps. In this form, it could even be added as a resource link on our University online reading lists system. Similarly, it could also be used as a temporary collection of resources gathered for the purposes of research or scholarship activities.
Pearltrees has its own YouTube video channel here to which you can sign up to see training videos and receive announcements about changes or enhancements to the product.
To get started you might like to watch this video from Josh Stott, which gives a simple overview of the basic functions and features of Pearltrees;
Here's a slightly longer and more in-depth overview to get you moving;
Where can I access it?
Pearltrees is free and available as a website or as an iOS/Android smartphone/tablet application. The basic version provides users with a free 1Gb of space for saving your Pearls, though paid premium user packages are available for a monthly fee, giving higher storage capacities and the option to make an account private should you wish. If you register for a Teacher account you can get an additional 1Gb of storage for free, and an ad-free interface.
The strength of Pearltrees is having the resource collections available across all your devices, along with its quick and easy setting-up process. What it lacks in resource management features it makes up for with simplicity and clarity.
There are other tools like Pearltrees which we'll no doubt feature over time, but this is a good one to get you started collating and curating your favourite resources, whatever medium they happen to be in.
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