Thursday, April 7, 2016

Inoreader and Three Steps to Curation Bliss

Yesterday I wrote up a guide to how to use Inoreoader to create a personal RSS stream: Inoreader: Remix Your Own RSS Feed ... with social network content. You can see my personal stream at As someone who teaches online and who is dedicated to using the Internet as an educational space, I consider that personal stream to be the equivalent of my "open office door" or, if you prefer, my door with all the cartoons and articles and such taped to the door as some faculty do.

Curating the Stream. But here's the thing: the REAL value of that stream is its usefulness for me. It is how I curate all the valuable content I encounter every day. Since going online back in 1998, this is the first time I've ever had a reliable and fun curation process, something that really works. Inoreader was the key: every other curation method that I had tried before, failed... but that all changed in November 2014, when I figured out how to make my personal stream. Thanks to the power of Inoreader search, I can link to the Google+ post where I shared the joy (Google+ search is absymal, but Inoreader solves that problem):

My Inoreader Curation Process

So, here's how the Inoreader curation process works for me...and if you are looking for a better curation process, maybe you can find some strategies here that will work for you too!

Step 1. Create a stream-to-curate folder. I explained yesterday how to create a combination feed by putting feeds in a folder. You can put whatever feeds you want in your stream-to-curate folder! Because I am so active every day at both Google+ and Twitter, sharing and resharing content there very diligently, I can rely on my own Google+ and Twitter streams (I have two Twitter accounts) as the content I want to curate, so my personal stream is also my stream-to-curate. If I were not using those networks so diligently, though, I might include some other people's blogs, Twitter sources, Inoreader active searches, etc. in my stream-to-curate folder. It's all up to you; there are so many ways to add content to a folder in Inoreader!

Step 2. Create rule to assign a tag. I also explained yesterday about how useful it can be to create a rule to add a tag automatically to all new items in a folder. To manage your curation process, create a rule that adds a tag to all the new items in your stream-to-curate folder; the tag I use is notbookmarked. I can also manually add that tag to any item I happen to see in Inoreader, although I am not likely to do that; I usually share good content at Inoreader at Google+ which means it ends up in my stream anyway. But the option to manually add the tag is always available too!

Step 3. CURATE. When you have time (a little time, a lot of time, whenever), review the notbookmarked tag in Inoreader. There is no rush: Inoreader saves the contents patiently; even if you just have time to do this once or twice a month, that's fine. Work through the notbookmarked items, deciding what to do with them in order to get them in a more permanent place IF you want to keep them, re-use them, re-share them, etc. As you process each item, either putting it somewhere else or deciding to discard it (I discard more than I keep), remove the notbookmarked tag. This does not remove it from Inoreader, and it does not remove it from your stream-to-curate folder. Instead, it just removes it from the heap of stuff you have not curated... yet.

And that's all there is to it! There is no rocket science here; all you are doing is setting up a good stream and getting Inoreader to tag it for you so that you can ponder later, at your convenience, what is really worth keeping. So simple: which is why it works!

IFTTT and Inoreader. Depending on where you save the stuff you want to save, you may be able to use Inoreader to further automate that process, creating IFTTT rules for Inoreader that are tag-driven. So, for example, I have a Blogger blog where I keep graphics I want to save — it's called Inoreader Graphics — and everything you see in that blog has been posted automatically by Inoreader. If I have a graphic in an Inoreader item that I want to save, I just add the tag dographic, and then I remove the notbookmarked tag as usual. The IFTTT recipe checks for that dographic tag and publishes the item in my blog. That's just one IFTTT example, of course, and people are using other Inoreader IFTTT recipes as you can see from the public recipes like these:

Limits to Automation. Since I value what I learn from the curation process, I'm not really interested in automating my process beyond that one use of IFTTT. The manual aspect of the process is something I actually enjoy! When I sift through the items at Inoreader, I get to "relive" each day, which is a powerful process in and of itself. I decide what to keep and what to discard, and when I keep things I decide where to put them. The item might go on my Myth-Folklore or Indian Epics or Writing Pinterest Boards, for example, or I might save articles to my Growth Mindset Resources at Diigo, etc. Pinterest and Diigo are both the repositories I turn to when I have more substantial free time, taking items saved there and turning them into blog posts. That process of revisiting items again and again (first at Inoreader and then later at Pinterest and Diigo) allows me to see what has real value to me, with the most valuable stuff ending up in my blogs, and those blogs are, in turn, another way for me to reshare my curated content with others.

Curation Bliss. This curation process all seems so natural and easy now that I have Inoreader to be the foundation for it all, but before Inoreader, I probably lost more content than I kept. And yes, that is very sad — but there's no point crying over digital spilt milk! Now, I keep the best of what I find, with better content to share back with my students than I ever had before. So, once again, I am very grateful to Inoreader. I started out just using it as a tool for my teaching (something to run my student blog hubs)... but it has grown into being the most important tool that I use for keeping track of my life online: THANK YOU, INOREADER! :-)

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