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April 12, 2010

Understanding Pearltrees: A New Way To Organize Web Content

TG01 Many people search the web, read content every day and share that content. While advances in search technology has made finding information easier and easier, saving and organizing information in a way that captures a story or conversation can still be very challenging.

I just posted on Techmamas.com about my first experience with Pearltrees.com; I was on a Traveling Geeks trip to LeWeb and Pearltrees was one of the French companies we met. Being a visual person, the Pearltrees online application offered me the tools to capture and organize online information in a visual format that also reflected the storyline behind the issue being discussed. I decided that my next step was to use it and see what happens. What happened - is that adding content to Pearltrees became part of my daily workflow. I now find it to be an essential way to organize the content I view daily, in a way that I can organize, share and embed in my blog. Being a busy mom, Pearltrees saves me the time of going back to capture relevant links or discussions  - because I am now doing it as part of my daily workflow. Simple bookmarking works linearly. Pearltrees enables the story to be told in a more visual way.

I easily created Pearltrees for conversations, issues and topic areas I am researching. My online peeps started taking notice, saying things like "there goes TechMama, creating those pearly things again" and "wow, Pearltrees looks great but I need to learn how to use it".

Months later, when I took on a project as adviser to Pearltrees, I had the opportunity to learn even more about the site and share the information I learned.


The way many people currently organize web content is by using bookmarking sites, which are organized in a linear, menu-style format.  Pearltrees works differently because it is a visual mapping of content that can be "dragged and dropped" into different visual trees. The Pearltrees.com FAQ's describes this process in the following way. "Pearltrees is a collaborative network that lets users create, enrich and share the world of their interests. In Pearltrees, everyone creates a world and uses parts of others' worlds to extend it. By doing so, everyone contributes to the overall project: building the first human organization of the Web."  It is not only a way to "create, enrich and share the world of a user's interests but also keep at hand the great content they find everyday on the web."

A Pearltree is made up of Pearls. A Pearl is simply a link to web content that a user wants to save and organize.  The content can be a blog post, article, Tweet, picture, video or any other online media that has a permalink/URL.


ADD TOOLBAR OR DROP DOWN EXTENSIONS TO MAKE "PEARLING" PART OF DAILY WORKFLOW: To make it easy to capture that content, Pearltrees has add-ons/bookmarklets to browsers that can be installed to integrate easily into a user's daily workflow. Extensions are available from many browsers including Firefox, Chrome, or bookmarklets for Safari and Opera.  The left hand menu (while logged onto the Pearltrees website) has a menu option for "extension" or "bookmarklet" depending on which browser is being used at the time - which will give the user the option to install.


Listed above is a picture of my Firefox toolbar with the Pearltree buttons installed.

Another feature is called Twitter Sync, which allows users to archive links shared on Twitter automatically. For me this is very useful because I share lots of links on Twitter that are lost over time. The Twitter Sync allows me not only to archive and organize links I share over Twitter, but also archive and organize Twitter conversations.


I also enjoy using the Search by Topic and Share functions that allow me to find other Pearltrees and share them across Twitter, Facebook, Email, blogs, Pearltrees and other platforms. Each Pearltree has a permalink and is readable by search engines, which adds some punch to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) results.


The post written by Dana Oshiro of ReadWriteWeb summarizes the functionality of Pearltrees very succinctly: "Rather than looking at the web as a series of linear pages, this service lets us build tree graphs of connecting arguments, share them and then break them at any time." Another way to describe this is a way to create stories from content. These stories are in the form of a "visual mapping of the web" organized and shared by users.


Using the site in different situations really helped me better understand how Pearltrees could alter the way I work and help me be more efficient.

Here are some examples of how I have used Pearltrees so far:

1. To organize my thoughts and coverage of the iPad launch:


2. To capture a conversation about a bad PR pitch on snake repellent

 Snake Repellent PR pitch Gone Bad 

3. To organize content for a presentation I am participating in reviewing the creation of an online brand


4. To start gathering content for a post about Touch Screen Gadgets

 Touch Screen Gadgets 

5. To capture all the Best of 2009 links from the Silicon Valley Moms Group so I could embed the mapping on my blog.

 Best of 2009 SVMomsGroup 

I started with the Silicon Valley Moms Blog.

 Best of 2009 Silicon Valley 

6. To organize the Twitter conversation that took place around my post on bad cell phone coverage at home.

 How to Improve Cell Coverage At Home 

7. To capture the posts about the Traveling Geeks trip I took to Paris


8. Best yet, I found the "about" Pearltrees so I could learn more about how to use the site.

8.1 Intro screencast:

The Pearl:  Pearltrees demo 

YouTube video from the Pearl:

8.2  Converting your interests to Pearltrees:

The Pearl:

 How to use pearltrees? 

YouTube video from the Pearl:

8.3 Start Using Pearltrees:

 Start using Pearltrees 

This pearltree (Start Using Pearltrees) has pearls that link to the following posts:

8.3.1 A Pearl, A Pearltree

 A pearl, a 

8.3.2 How to Get Pearls

 How to get pearls? 

8.3.3 Build Your Pearltrees 1 and 2

 Build your pearltrees 1 (for 

 Build your pearltrees 2 (experts) 

8.3.4 Rename Your Pearltrees

 Rename your pearltrees 

8.4 Connecting Your Interests:

 Connect your interests 

8.5 Create Your World of Interests:


This Pearltree has the pearls of information including how to add colors, define the connections, be followed and invite your friends:

 Connect your interests 

9. I also found some examples of other Pearltrees used to:

9.1 Discuss Climate changehttp://pear.ly/jz1r It defends the point of view in favor of climate change.

9.2 Organize information about for data visualization (a more geeky topic): http://pear.ly/bexL I

9.3 Find out information about the last Ukrainian presidential electionhttp://pear.ly/bJAj

9.4 Organize course material on marketing: http://pear.ly/ifG1

9.5 Find things to do in Paris: http://pear.ly/gw71

9.6 Teacher Resources http://pear.ly/dryH

9.7 Homeschooling http://pear.ly/dryH

9.8 Learning Activities http://pear.ly/fma

9.9 One mom is organizing her list of Mom Blogger connections. http://pear.ly/hR_j

My next step will be organizing my own Mom Online Community Pearltree http://pear.ly/lQPb , capturing all the fun online mom communities, and posting about some usage strategies and tips. With the potential for upgrades to a touch interface in the future of Pearltrees, I see that matching with the future of tech - which is all about touch.

Disclosure: I met the Pearltees team while on the Traveling Geeks trip to Paris/Le Web where I first started using Pearltrees. After using Pearltrees, I wanted to learn more so I spent some time using it. Recently I started advising Pearltrees. What I blog about are my own words.

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I just joined Pearl Tree and it's AMAZING. I am much better when I can see things mapped out visually---I just got started. Thanks once again Beth for leading the way.

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