Review of Pearltrees
Pearltrees is where social bookmarking and concept mapping meet – a cross between Diigo and MindManager. The product of a French company, Pearltrees is a social curation community – a place where you can organize, discover and share stuff you like on the web. The tool has been well received; 15 months after launch it had amassed more than 100,000 users and reached 10,000,000 page views per month.
I created a Pearltrees account and set up a “tree” of things I am currently working on. I installed a Chrome add-on that let me easily turn a website into a “pearl” without leaving the page. I then periodically returned to the tree in order to group my pearls. It was fun to gather the pearls and arrange them in different ways. To date, the tool doesn’t run on iOS devices (it’s Flash-based), but an iPad app has been promised for later this year.
You can embed a tree on a normal web page, but not on a WordPress.com blog, like this one. You can also export a tree to an RDF file. I have no idea what such a file is good for, so I wish Pearltrees had other options for exporting. It would be nice to be able to share a tree as a PDF document or PNG graphic, for example.
I looked for related trees to connect to mine, and found that someone had added a couple of my blog posts to her tree. I “plucked” and linked them. Other than that, the social functions of the tool seem less useful to me at first glance. While I personally lack enthusiasm for Pearltrees as a social tool, I am sure that lots of people will be excited about connecting trees and joining “teams”.
At first I wondered how the trees were being matched up; it didn’t seem like I had much in common with my “related” items. Perhaps few people shared my interests. Then I saw that other people were creating a separate tree for each of their activities, while mine covered multiple topics (above/left). After realizing this, I changed my main pearls into separate trees (right).That made it easier to add new pearls in the right place.
I see real potential for Pearltrees in the classroom. Students could collaboratively create one or more trees related to course content, for example, then link them together. A professor could create a tree to use as a presentation tool. To get you started, here’s a video that shows how the tool works: