Susan Kistler on Content Curation Part II: Comparing Curation Tools Using the Same Content Items

My name is Susan Kistler and I am the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director. This week, I’m running a short series on content curation:

  • Thursday: Content Curation for Evaluators
  • Friday: Comparing Content Curation Tools
  • Saturday: Participating in our Content Curation Project

I’m in search of tools that may be leveraged by evaluators in their own practice (see yesterday’s post) as well as used by the association to curate and organize. I wanted to find curation tools that allowed for identifying, organizing, and sharing resources through a webpage. Towards that end, I tried four free tools recommended or used by colleagues.


To compare apples to apples to the extent possible, I tested each of these and timed how long it took to sign up, get started, and curate approximately 10 items – links to various AEA-related resources such as AEA’s LinkedIn group, career center, twitterfeed, and a video from one of AEA’s Coffee Break Webinars. Each was surprisingly easy to set up, taking less than 5 minutes to create an account and another 10 to populate it with the items.

Hot Tip: Each screenshot in this post gives you an idea of the look and feel of the site created using the tool. Click on the screenshot to explore the site and tool more actively.

Hot Tip: Each tool has a bookmarklet (basically a button) that can be installed on your browser toolbar and used to mark items for inclusion in the curated webpage on the tool’s site.

Rad Resource – BagTheWeb: BagTheWeb uses a bag metaphor to organize all of your linked items. You might have a bag focusing on evaluation and another focusing on training. BagTheWeb was very easy to use and I could mark sites and add a title and short description for each – but I could only add a new item to one bag at a time (no cross-posting). New items were automatically added to the top of the list, and I could go to my BagTheWeb page and re-order the list, edit titles and descriptions, and add a picture. BagTheWeb automatically embedded the video so it could be viewed right on the page. BagTheWeb also has a nice “Suggest Link” function to allow readers to suggest additions. This was my favorite of the four tools as it was simple, allowed for editing, and recognized different types of media.

Update: The Suggest Link button does not work as I had understood initially – it allows bagtheweb to suggest links based on the bag contents; unfortunately, not  for readers to suggest links.


Rad Resource – Connotea: Connotea creates a listing akin to a bibliography, with or without annotations. It had by far the most sophisticated export features (although many were not that easy to use), to make your Connotea list importable into offline documents and other bibliography management tools. Connotea uses tags for organization, a nice feature because one item could be tagged with more than one keyword (effectively putting it into two bags if we use the BagTheWeb metaphor). It treats all items the same (no embedding videos, no pictures) and the output resembles a bibliography. Frustratingly, it was not possible to re-arrange entries – new ones were added to the top and stayed there. On the strong side, Connotea allows colleagues to comment on entries, extending their usefulness.


Rad Resource – pearltrees: pearltrees creates a mindmap of the links that you share. The resulting map is easily re-arrangeable, so that you can make any node a sub-item to another node. Users (and you!) may add comments to nodes. However, without diving deeper, users can see only the title for a pearl (node) and its placement within the pearltree. You can make an endless number of pearltrees (nodes with subnodes) and you can look at other people’s pearltrees and borrow items from them for your own. The format is somewhat limiting in that one can only view a small portion of a large multi-branched pearltree at a time. The result is attractive, great for illustrating relationships among links, viewable on a custom pearltree page, and easily embeddable in websites (see below!).
Evaluation in Susan Kistler (sukist)

Rad Resource – creates a page akin to an online newspaper with each item looking like a story. Use the bookmarklet to add items, then go to the site to arrange them as you wish. easily embedded video and pictures and had the slickest look of the four tools – which is both its strength and shortcoming. Because of its format, likely would not be good for very large sets of links or for long-term archiving and arranging. It is much stronger when thought of as a magazine or used to highlight a smaller set of key resources. Items may be tagged. Users can comment on items and use the tags to filter the articles to ones of interest. Like, BagTheWeb, a “suggest’ button on is a nice feature.


Stay tuned for more!

The above opinions are my own and do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice.

4 thoughts on “Susan Kistler on Content Curation Part II: Comparing Curation Tools Using the Same Content Items”

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  4. Hi Susan,

    Thanks for the excellent review.I am working for as a UXer designer.

    We are working on the next version of the site which will improve current bagging function. One of the new features is to allow users to add one link to more than one bag at same time.

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