Social media aggregators

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Aggregation via a socially-aware dashboard tool
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Contents

Introduction

See also Current awareness services in health libraries | Medical podcasts & videocasts | Mashups in medicine | Social media | Web 2.0

"...the ability to aggregate all content authored by a user into a single stream so that friends, family, or other interested parties can see the user’s public activities wherever they occur [is key to the social web]..." - Toward a People Web


Aggregation is an important activity in managing information in an era of social media. Increasingly, a wide variety of websites, RSS readers, dashboards and platforms are available to accomplish aggregation. As social media users maintain several accounts, services and applications, social media aggregators can bring this content together centrally. Social media experts have been working on on this form of consolidation for some time so that applications such as Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter can work seamlessly from within one account and user environment. However, with the rise of Twitter and Facebook, and the decline of RSS, there has been lack of innovation in aggregation in the past few years.

There are quite a few benefits to consider with aggregating content in one place. First, users do not have to learn yet another interface when they connect to RSS readers and other tools that bring syndicated content together. One of the more useful aspects of aggregated content platforms is that they provide one-stop updating and information-monitoring in real and virtual time. Moreover, many of these applications can be monitored simultaneously and viewed within one website or browser on the go using mobile devices.

Even though aggregating social content is extremely useful (and perhaps even necessary), how can we locate newer content outside of regular networks and spheres of influence? Rather than surfing the Internet for information, what about searching from within the social networks themselves? Some Twitter users believe that information there is already filtered through a sieve of interactions, acting as both filter and aggregator similar to Facebook or FriendFeed. Where does Google fit in terms of aggregation - through search? Perhaps the future of web search will be less about keywords (or, even controlled terms) or how many other pages link to a retrieved file of information. The key to search in the future may be more about how to forage real time content in our personal networks rather than searching across the web using Google and Yahoo.

Goals of aggregation

The whole point of social media aggregation is to allow you to:

  1. monitor multiple social media sites easily in one space
  2. update your media streams (add/ remove friends content in your stream) quickly, easily
  3. monitor your entire stream as well as create sub-streams by filtering/ searching
  4. respond or comment and chat with people as necessary
  5. schedule updates, and reschedule information retrieval regularly
  6. use tracking tools, to verify goals and adapt content accordingly

Popular aggregating tools & feedreaders

RSS feeds for TOCs

  • Alternatively, you can set up RSS feeds for your customized searches (also searches by journal title) in tools such as PubMed and OvidSP.

Create a social network

See CrowdVine, Ning and Tumblr as examples of aggregated social networks for learning, conferences or information-sharing.

Social networks can be created by using blogs, wikis, podcasts, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing and voice over IP. Applications include GoogleGroups (reference, social networking), Wikipedia (reference), Facebook (social networking), MouthShut.com (product reviews), Youmeo (social network aggregation), YouTube (social networking & video sharing), Avatars United (social networking), Twitter (social networking and microblogging) and Yammer. Social media can be integrated using social network aggregation platforms such as Mybloglog, Ning, Sloodle and Plaxo.

Associated memes

A meme refers to the replication or reuse of a digital idea, file or hyperlink on social media. Memes consist of ideas that go viral but which can be altered or original as in an image, website, video clip or offbeat news story. A meme may evolve through commentary, imitation or a parody -- even by collecting news about itself. Internet memes have a tendency to spread due to popularity, and do so organically, voluntarily, and via peer to peer networks rather than by predetermined path or automated means.

  • information overload; information centralization; fragmentation; ubiquitous or pervasive computing
  • social network platforms; webtop; wearable computer platforms
  • Baudrillard's blender <http://www.baudrillardsblender.com/>
    • Baudrillard's Blender is a reciprocating, no-frills, low-brow design, self-writing-montage-machine for thinking critically about a combination of cultural leitmotifs: television, political process, journalism, communication, and media citizenship. It is a methodological performance of Symbolic Exchange as ethnographic surrealism. It is media appropriation as critical documentary.
  • federated identity
  • mashups; remix; reconfiguration; homogenization
  • Mash-UP Personal Learning Environments (MUPPLE)

Other reflections

  • Consider the notion of aggregation in a broader societal sense, as in a cohesive civil society.
    • How does the 'concentration of power and wealth' threaten civil society? Or, does it?
  • Does Google and Facebook for example represent some of the downsides of the aggregation of power and wealth in the digital age?
    • i.e. monopolization? economic hegemony? multinational corporation control?
  • How might the platforms of aggregation lead to new learning ecologies?
  • Is this what is needed for the future of information literacy skill-building and lifelong learning? (i.e. Personal learning environments (PLEs)
  • Finally, how do we teaching our users about the value of consolidating social media, and its importance in today's society? Is that one of our many roles?
  • If you wish, explore one (or more) of these questions in the forums, Wimba classroom, on your blog or engage with someone in a forum with which you feel comfortable.

References

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