Smartr For Following JISC MRD Project Twitter Links

I recently summarised a session on blogging which I facilitated at the JISC MRD launch meeting held in Nottingham on 1-2 December 2011.  During the session I mentioned the potential value of Twitter in raising the visibility of blog posts.  In addition to the ways in which tweets can be retweeted, which can help to raise the visibility of the content of a tweets in ways in which are unlikely to happen for content posted on mailing lists,  the content of links posted in tweets can also be accessed using a new generation of tools designed to provide ‘personalised newspapers’.

I use the Smartr app on my iPod Touch to view the content of links posted by my Twitter followers. During the day, in particular the links are often work-related, with the variety of interests which people I follow on Twitter have providing serendipity which does not really happen when I follow topic-focussed blogs and RSS feeds.

However in addition to the serendipitous links which are tweeted by the people I follow (which in the evening and during weekends tends to become more diverse in nature) I also use Smartr to follow specific Twitter lists which I have created. The lists include people who have attended specific events, official organisational or project Twitter feeds or people who are closely associated with particular JISC programmes.

The Twitter lists I have created, which can be accessed from my Twitter account, include:

JISCMRD: people who tweet mainly related to work on JISC MRD project activities.  Recent tweets from members of this list are illustrated.

IWMC: people who are members of the institutional Web management community.

IWMW2011: Speakers at UKOLN’s IWMW 2011 event.

JISC: Official JISC Twitter accounts of particular interest.

Note that although Twitter lists are often used for viewing the content of tweets from selected groups of Twitter users, applications such as Smartr make use of Twitter lists in other ways.

As can be seen from the accompanying image Smartr harvests the content of links posted by members of the list. In this example we can see the contents of the link referred to in the following tweet from Jez Cope:

Hertford Regional College outsourcing storage and compute resources to Iceland for geothermal power #jiscmrd #idcc11

and the contents of the link referred to in this tweet from Simon Hodson:

#jiscmrd #jiscmrd 2011-2013 Launch Meeting – Biomedical/Health breakout group from @wjworthington

However tweets which contain no links are not displayed in Smartr.

Clicking on the summary will display the full contents of the page which has been linked to. The accompanying  image shows how a blog post on “JISC Managing Research Data programme launch – Day 1” provided by the RDM_C4DM project is displayed in the Smartr app.

It should also be noted that this content can be bookmarked and is available if the mobile device is offline.  Favouriting a page also means that the page can be accessed from a Web browser, as can be seen from these favourites for the JISCMRD list.

We can therefore see how Smartr can be used to provide curated access to content relevant to a particular community.  Use of project Twitter accounts to provide links to appropriate content provided by a project as well as links to content of interest to projects and the programmes can therefore be used to ensure that resources likely to be relevant to funded projects can be made available with little effort (posting a tweet of up to 140 characters) in a way which would be not as easy to do using conventional mailing lists.

Note that the Smartr app is currently available for the iPhone and iPad platforms. However a desktop app is also being developed.  In addition to Smartr there are similar personalised newspaper apps which provide attractive and easy-to-use interfaces to content available via RSS feeds, such as Pulse and Feedly, both of which are available on multiple platforms. However with the exception of Flipboard. which is only available for the iPad, I’m not aware of other apps which process links posted on Twitter. Any suggestions?

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