I’ve had a passing awareness of Flipboard for awhile, but I never really investigated it in depth until this week. Once I took a closer look at it, I realized that it definitely has a place in my Technology Toolkit.
Once you sign up for an account, you choose the broad topics you want to follow. Flipboard automatically curates collections of internet articles related to the interests you select. Admittedly, most of the preselected topics either aren’t Education-centric, or they’re too broad to really be useful. Yes, as an elementary librarian I’m interested in ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS, but I don’t want to read articles about the lunch program, parent background checks, custodial strikes, etc.
Fortunately, you can also search for more specific terms and create your own “magazines” where you include resulting articles that are keepers. (Example: Suggested topic = CHILDREN’S BOOKS, Searched topic = CALDECOTT AWARD.) If an article is worthy of saving for future use, just click the plus sign to “flip it” into one of the magazines you created.
Flipboard also provides Share buttons that allow you to email or text links to articles to yourself or others, save them to a reading list for later, or (if you give Flipboard access to your Twitter and/or Facebook account) you can also tweet and/or share articles that you find. You can favorite them and comment on them within Flipboard as well.
Flipboard will also recommend other topics as well as magazines created by other users that you might want to follow, based on the articles you are reading. And you can email invitations to friends and colleagues offering them permission to add articles to magazines that you’ve created. Instant collaboration!
I have no idea what algorithms Flipboard is using to locate the articles they present you within their service, which makes the results seem rather serendipitous. This can be a good thing, in that you may come across something you would never have known to look for yourself. It can also be a drawback because you know you are missing a lot of good web content, which is unacceptable if you’re using Flipboard as your go-to resource for organizing all that internet information you want to keep track of. Enter the Flipboard bookmarklet, which allows you to save any webpage into Flipboard directly from your browser.
I’m mainly using this product on my iPad, and that’s where all the screenshots in this post were taken. Your interface will look different if you are using a different device. One thing I would change about the iOS app is the giant COVER STORIES box that takes up a double space on my Flipboard homepage and includes a jumble of pop culture articles that I have zero interest in mixed with the content I’ve chosen to follow. I can ignore it, but I’d prefer to delete it and use the home page for something more useful.
Being a brand new user, I haven’t started following anyone on Flipboard yet. If you’re a Flipboard user, please leave a comment and let me know! If you’re using a different tool to curate web content, I’d like to hear about that too.