App of the Week: Pearltrees

Title: Pearltrees
Platform: iPad (iOS 3.2 or later)
Cost: Free

PearltreesI’ve known about the Pearltrees website for quite awhile but never found using it that easy or intuitive. Then I read the review of the new Pearltrees iPad app on ReadWriteWeb and thought, “I have to try this out.” The idea of the service is to provide users the ability to create visual mind map curated lists of websites. (The websites are the pearls on the tree in Pearltrees.) Once I started working with the iPad app I realized there is a lot of potential in the idea of a curated list of websites represented in a mind map. This is particularly true because of all of the features available in the Pearltrees app.

To get started you create a Pearltree on a particular topic – say teens and libraries – and then add pearls (websites) to the tree by typing in a URL, or by using the Pearltrees bookmarklet that makes it easy to be at a site in Safari on the iPad and add the URL to one of your trees. Pearls added to a tree can be renamed, “liked,” annotated, and commented on. If you don’t like the placement of a site on a tree you can take it off and move it somewhere else to make a better or stronger connection. The touch features of an iPad make this movement of pearls on a tree a particularly easy to accomplish task.

What makes the Pearltrees app even more exciting is that you can connect trees together. For example, I have started a tree on Teens and Libraries which links to general resources on the topic. I also have a tree on Advocacy in Teen Services which has specific links related to that topic. I can link the advocacy tree to the more general teen services tree and move between them easily in order to see the variety of resources available.

Teens & Libraries and Teen Advocacy in (lbraun2000)

Pearltrees also makes it possible to collaborate with others on the creation of a tree. You can invite collaborators via Facebook, Twitter, and email. If you are collaborating it’s possible to see a list of the sites that have been added by collaborators. This makes it a simple process to review pearls recently added to a tree.

There are lots of ways in which the Pearltrees app could be used with and for teens. Why not have teens create visual “If you like” lists using Pearltrees instead of a more traditional blog, wiki, or paper/print format? Teens could collaborate on the “If you like” tree with the main section being a particular book or author and then connected trees being books on the same theme, by specific authors, and so on. Since Pearltrees can be embedded into blogs you could make the trees available via the web as a new and improved way of providing booklists.

Of course this could also work very well for teens working on a project for class. The teens can collect sites that they think would be useful for a project and even organize them into different trees that correspond to an outline they have created for their project. If teens are working together on the assignment they can all add pearls to trees and even comment on what’s added in order to help inform each other of how they see various resources fitting into the work they are doing.

Curation is a buzz word in the information world these days and there are a lot of tools available for curating content in order to make it easily accessible to others. Pearltrees is one option that has a lot of potential for those who like, or need, a visual view of resources and how they connect to each other.

By the way, feel free to collaborate on the teens and libraries Pearltree that I started when writing this blog post. You can do that by clicking on the “Join In” link in the image above. If you don’t have a Pearltrees account set one up and then go ahead and add resources.

For more YALSA App of the Week posts visit the App of the Week Archive.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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