"about the different sources one could add to stay on top of one's research area. These include RSS feeds from traditional databases (citation alerts, table of contents of favourite journals), library opac feeds of searches and new additions, book vendor sites (e.g Amazon) book sharing sites (e.g LibraryThing), social bookmarking sites both generic (e.g. Delicious) and research 2.0 sites (e.g. citeulike), Google alerts and more"
Since then, the last seem to have declined. I also wrote this
"A sub class of these aggregators allow you to "build" your own newspaper from RSS feeds, essentially these are just RSS feed readers but with more innovative layouts that mimick newspapers
Examples include FeedJournal, Feed Chronicle"
Two years have passed since I wrote this and since then the following trends have intensified
I only realized the power of Flipboard when I started using it to go through Twitter and Facebook shared content. It's something that is not easy to understand if you have not used it regularly.
The speed at which I processed material far exceeded that of going through Twitter or Facebook the traditional way for two reasons
The Flipboard way of sharing content while most common is not the only way, iPad and iPhone apps like Taptu, Pulse, Fludnews & desktop services like Dipity & Feedsquares visualize content in different ways.
Consuming Academic Content?
For me, the obvious question is this, how does this apply to consuming content for academic research?
While the goal of Flipboard and its competitors is geared towards creating a personal newspapers, it is just a short jump to creating a personal research journal, populated with articles you want to read no matter what journal or source it comes form.
This is simple enough to do I suppose. Simply load up RSS feeds (most flipboard like alternatives accept RSS feeds - even OPML files or indirectly via Google reader) and also Facebook, Twitter accounts of Library Journals, Library vendors even researchers who tend to share information in a particular area
You might have noted the Paperli example above is made out of RSS feeds of Table of contents of Journals. Paperli and Postano are flexible enough to handle many different types of streams but they are desktop based rather than tablet based (which means iPad for now)
So let's try this on Flipboard.
Flipboard on iPad is the most polished example of this class of tools and it's the natural one to try. It accepts a wide variety of content including streams from your Twitter account (Including Twitter lists, saved searches, people you follow, people following you etc), Facebook streams (Groups, Pages etc), Google reader (Your shared item, starred items, people you follow, Feeds & Folders) as well as curated content (from Blekko for example).
Reading academic journal articles does have a couple of pitfalls as they are often behind paywalls.
Here are my proposed steps
How well does it work?
Above shows an example of a Google reader folder of RSS feeds from journals. First off while it works fine, it looks a bit boring , no pictures etc. I wonder why it doesn't show any pictures? Maybe RSS feeds of journals should add one or two diagrams :)
As Flipboard type tools are meant only for consumption only they don't store anything long term, so you need some way to handle this.
More intelligence/collaborative filtering ?
Flipboard unfortunately does not help you handle or prioritize items to read, as it lacks intelligence of any kind and simply lists everything you have. I wrote about my experiments using bayesian filtering to train the RSS reader to recognise which articles are interesting perhaps something similar here would be desirable.
Twittertimes has something simple that take into account how often the piece of content was tweeted, shared on facebook etc (by your friends or overall)
Zite goes further and learns what you might like using machine learning techniques and is close to what I was talking about.
"It works by looking at the articles you click on and the characteristics of those articles. Is the article longer or shorter? Is it skewed toward one element of a topic or another? Is it a political blog? If so, does it have have a right- or left-wing slant?" Source
You can also explicitly tell it whether you like the article you read and which topics you would like to see more. It also learns implicitly "soft yes and no", based on whether you click on something or ignores it.
I suppose a system designed for academic content should also take into account different characteristics the number of cites etc, but given that most of the academic content you will be consuming will be new, this probably won't come into play.
What type of help can Librarians offer given such trends? Firstly, keep uptodate about such tools and teach researchers how to use flipboard or alternatives to handle research streams. Secondly, perhaps even curate such pages and share it with researchers.
In fact, while tools like Paperli allow some form of curation, tools and services like Scoopit and curate us are starting to show even more promise and should be watched closely.