Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pinterest and Symbaloo for Organizing Your Information

When Google closed down Google Reader this summer, many of us searched for an alternative. I came upon Symbaloo, which I have been loving for three months.

Symbaloo works similarly to Pinterest, in that it allows us to easily arrange our Internet favorites in a visual board. Symbaloo allows us to "bookmark" sites for personal use or to share with others. Yet, unlike Pinterest, it also lets us follow newsfeeds. Furthermore, while Pinterest relies on tagging pictures located on a page, making it challenging to "pin" the page when it has no images, Symbaloo lets one create personally designed buttons easily. It is not reliant on a page having imagery. Symbaloo's bookmarks are created through the Symbaloo site, while Pinterests "pins" are created through a toolbar button. While viewing the heavily picture based Pinterest is attention grabbing, Symbaloo's differences and some advatanges as an information tool are worth a look.

I have created a page that grabs the rss feeds of my favorite blogs. This solves my Google Reader problem and hence supports my original reason for trying Symbaloo. RSS feeds are easy to grab, organize, and view.

I have also just begun thinking about and experimenting with Symbaloo to create pathfinders, or links to sources that can help my patrons and clients. I am considering duplicating my Pinterest boards here for comparison. There have been many times when I have worked to create a visual using Photoshop to "pin" to a board when the page I was pinning didn't have one. Other times, I have been unable to find an image and, being in a hurry, have decided to not pin the page to my Pinterest board. Symbaloo solves this problem.

Symbaloo also has a new mobile app (within the past 16 months) that neatly lets you pull all your bookmarks together for your own use. It is easy on the eyes and easy to use.

picture from

Oprah's Symbaloo webmix is a good example of how Symbaloo can be creatively used to make a visual impact and advertise your brand.

Some are using Symbaloo to specifically draw attention to cultural heritage. Here are a few interesting sites along these lines:
  • Amsterdam - since the site originated in the Netherlands in 2007, many sites were created in that country. This webmix is an interesting example of how one can publicize one's city or institution through Symbaloo, or, draw together links about a place for education purposes

[Search for public webmixes to explore more Symbaloo sites created by others.]

The problem with all of this work to create "subject catalogs" of information is that, of course, these platforms may go away. Exporting our information from Pinterest and Symbaloo is not easy. I would love to have a platform that works from my own web site to perform the same tasks as those in the cloud. At work, I purchase software databases that allow me to create links, but for those of us keeping links at home, or those of us in smaller institutions that can't afford such software, the ever-changing resources can be frustrating. Yet, Symbaloo has been around since 2007. So, it's had a good run and its star doesn't seem to be fading (yet). If you are looking for a new, interesting, or better way to organize your information, it's worth a look.

For more about Symbaloo see: 
TNW Pick of the Day: Symbaloo launches mobile apps to sync bookmarks across all your devices    

[What will you did when IGoogle is gone too?] Great Personalized Start Pages: 6 Alternatives to IGoogle  

Lifehacker - Symbaloo Makes Creating a Modular Start Page Easier


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