My latest contribution to the Stanford Social Innovation Review is now up – you can read the post and join the conversation on the SSIR blog, or check out the repost below.


For over a year now, I’ve been moderating and facilitating a monthly online discussion for people working as community builders and for those looking for feedback on community building efforts. It’s called the #CommBuild chat and was born out of a facilitated monthly Twitter chat called #4change. Often in these chats, participants discuss the online tools they are using and new platform functionality, all with the hope of finding ways to increase community engagement. For example, this month’s online chat, normally coordinated via the text chat platform CoverItLive, tried out a new platform, Google+ Hangout. This video chat application is part of Google+ and allows up to 10 video participants to come together—great for #CommBuild participants because they get real face time with each other.

So when, a new content curation platform, hit the web recently, the #CommBuild network seemed like the perfect place to try it out.

Whether you’re interested in community building, hot air ballooning, or the way robots work, you’re never going to be the only person talking about it online. In fact, the web is so full of information that many organizations are finding it useful to pull together topic-specific content on the web and make it available in one place. These can be useful internally and externally—you can share news with colleagues or create a dashboard of resources for your community. positions every user as a content curator. Unlike a blog, which positions us all as topic experts with a soapbox of our own, makes it possible to pull together media of all kinds—blogs, news, videos, etc.—from many different resources.

How it Works has an impressively intuitive interface for just being in a beta launch. You pick your topic, add a description of the collection, then you can begin searching for relevant articles and other media to include. provides automated searches to match all the keywords you include on your topic—check out the image below to see automated searches on Digg, Twitter, and Youtube.


You can “scoop” content (add it to your topic page) from the dashboard. You can also browse the web and “scoop” up content about your topic using a bookmark (when you join, you can follow steps to add the button to your bookmarks bar). Once you’ve added information to your topic, you’ll want to share it. Every time you add a piece of content to your page, you have the option of sharing the link to your page via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

For the CommBuild topic, I used’s built-in search feature to add news articles and blog posts to my page—they show up as suggested content, and you can click to dismiss or add to your page. Once I put a handful of items on my page, I clicked Share and tweeted that I’d created the topic to my network. Just like that, it was out there. I then opened Tweetdeck, a desktop application for managing Twitter and other social platforms, and watched the stream of content from Twitter flowing by. As I saw links of interest—especially ones shared by the #CommBuild community, I added them to the page by clicking on the bookmark/browser extension and scooping (saving) it! Almost immediately, people replied with links to related resources, creating a place where the #CommBuild chat could go to stay on top of news and posts related to community building.

Why is Worth a Try

We interact with articles and other media all day long, so pulling it together under a central topic should fit into that flow. makes it easy to collect and share the things you’re reading, talking about, and interested in without the feeling that you’re adding a whole new platform to your daily work. I’m excited to see organizations diving in to to organize news and information about their cause, neighborhood, or organization. One word of caution: A topic name (in my case, “CommBuild”) can only be used once, and your name may already be taken, just like unique URLs on Facebook and user names on Twitter. I think could become a very interesting space for real time data in situations of natural disaster and crisis communications. I would love to see allow for group use so that multiple people can collaborate to maintain a single space.

What do you think? How do you collect and share content now? How would you use a tool like this in your organization or work?

Worth a Look: Digital Content Tool
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  • This is so great, I just sent in my request for a beta invite! My real goal in writing my blog ( is to develop it as an information hub and meeting place for all people working on and interested in Social Impact Assessment, and I think Scoop.It is definitely going to help out. Thanks for posting!

    • Hey Emily – that’s great to hear! I definitely think it can be a great tool for creating a real knowledge hub. Once you get in, would love to hear how it goes!

  • Nice review Amy.  I have been exploring this tool for a little bit now and am finding it quite interesting.  I quickly learned that the tighter the focus the more valuable the topic.  Too broad and folks are just recreating their Twitter streams.  The value comes from a true eye toward curation.  Load only the gems around a tightly focused topic and hit the value sweet spot.

    I find I am starting to use it as my bookmark go to.  I am super visual so if I can cruise my bookmarked articles in a visual format I am a happy camper.

    I also like the relationship it creates between your topics and those that you follow by being able to suggest things for other topics.  I think this will really help build a sense of community rather then a ton of competing topics.  The down side being that the norm has become that we are all publishers/curators and not so drawn to playing the supporting role.  I think the only way this new tool will truely thrive is if folks can get in the mindset of creating topics where there are none and supporting existing ones with suggestions.  Otherwise, (and it is already kind of heading this way) we will end up with 20 similar topics and again loose the value of curation by having too many options.

    • Thanks, Ash! When it comes to curating+bookmarks+visual navigation, did you ever try Pearltrees? It is like a delicious (public bookmarking) + mindmapping + social network. You may find it interesting at least! I never got into it because I use Twitter or other social spaces for my organic discovery and use delicious and for saving and archiving, etc.

      • I had not seen pearltrees. Looks interesting.  I will play with it a bit and see how it fits in with my routine.  I just have not seemed to find my magic fit for general bookmarking.  Perhaps with the new interface I will also give delicious another look.

        As always thanks for the great tips and info.

        • The new delicious reminds me a lot of Evernote. Not to get too tool crazy on this thread, but is that something you’ve tried? It’s definitely more than a bookmark tool as it does everything – business cards to photos to links to everything in between. But it uses the collection + tags process that the new delicious seems to be moving users towards.

  • I finally started using and I love it. Just doing one topic for now, at . Are you going to keep using it?

    • Thanks, Laura!
      I do plan to keep using it. I’d like it to be a collaborative space though so want to figure out how to let all CommBuild community folks contribute somehow. Ideas?

      Amy Sample Ward

      Please excuse spelling and brevity, sent mobile-y.