Wakelet is a content/data curation online service. The word is probably not new to you: you’ve heard about Museum curators, for example. These people provide the professional service of identifying, selecting, maintaining and validating art or science production.

Individual researchers and writers who rely on “the state of the art” on a certain subject (literature review) or simply the content that is most relevant to their chosen line of argument need to curate content as well.

Before the existence of online curation platforms, we did it manually. Usually we created some editing file and added the links to the content we found on the web. Alternatively, we saved sources (pdfs, images, videos), which takes a lot of data space on a hard drive.

Online curation platforms began for me with a deceased platform called “Storify”. After examining all the available curation platforms and reading about their use, I concluded that was the best for me. Other researchers and students found it the best platform as well (Fincham 2011, Atasoy & Martens 2011, Cohen & Mihailidis 2012). There are several in the market, most of which target the “content writer” audience and providing a product with limited options and features, many of which some sort of “ready to publish” curation.

Storify announced it was going to close about a year ago and I needed an option. At the time I had over 100 curated collections there. Wakelet was the only one where I could import my Storify collection with no loss of capabilities.

Wakelet turned out to be much better than Storify: the browser widget allows you to incorporate any content to a pre-existing story, create a new private story and search for stories to add the item to.

Teachers have been using wakelet as a learning resource (Wilkening & Schwartz 2017). The platform is also receiving greater attention from scientists and science educators (Lantsoght 2018).

As a new platform, there is not a lot of scholarly work about it. The fact that more sophisticated writers (scientists and educators) are quickly gravitating towards it is an interesting indicator. I believe it is a question of time until it investigative journalists become the main users.

Wakelet is very user-friendly and it is possible that, as curation becomes more widely accepted as a better tool than bookmarking for information use and retrieval, the general populations is also attracted to the platform.

I have 212 curated stories/collection on Wakelet. Many are private, usually about some topic that calls my attention and may or may not become a project. Some private collections are for personal use. The public ones have been shown to be useful to my readers. In several articles, I link the Wakelet story at the “References” section.

I don’t know how other researchers organize their references, whether they download all of them, including videos or if they just rely on what they cite on their published work. A few writers told me that they have files with references for specific subjects that they use when they write about them, skipping the re-reading process. I find that dangerous. The chances of misquoting something are high.

Wakelet is a huge upgrade to my previous bookmarks. If you are a researcher, you know how annoying and inconvenient they are. I recommend that you try Wakelet. It’s free and you can judge for yourself how useful it is. Just like any technological upgrade, I can’t see myself working without it now.

References:

Fincham, Kelly. “Storify (2011).” Journal of Media Literacy Education 3, no. 1 (2011): 15.

Atasoy, Berke, and Jean-Bernard Martens. “STORIFY: a tool to assist design teams in envisioning and discussing user experience.” In CHI’11 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 2263-2268. ACM, 2011.

Cohen, James, and Paul Mihailidis. “Storify and news curation: Teaching and learning about digital storytelling.” In Second annual social media technology conference & workshop, vol. 1, pp. 27-31. 2012.

Wilkening, Betsy, and K. L. Schwartz. “Adapting to Teach Climate Literacy.” In AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts. 2017.

Lantsoght, Eva OL. “Communicating Science in the Twenty-First Century.” In The AZ of the PhD Trajectory, pp. 157-174. Springer, Cham, 2018.