Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Bookmarking information

The Children's Illustrated Encyclopaedia
 of General Knowledge
When I was younger there was no Internet or World Wide Web and if I wanted find out about something I would "look up" the information in a book. As a child I had one small encyclopaedia of my own. This was called The Children's Illustrated Encyclopaedia of General Knowledge. and many years later I still have this book. It now sits on one of four bookcases in my study but I cannot remember when I last consulted this or any other encyclopaedia. Looking through this book today, I am actually surprised at how much general knowledge was fitted into a book of this size. It's interesting to see how facts have been divided into ten sections and what these "realms of knowledge" are. Some of the facts that were deemed useful for boys and girls then, such as historical dates and words that are often mis-spelt, are still relevant today but others, such as tables of Logarithms and Antilogarithms are definitely not! But no matter how many facts are within this book, it actually only contains a tiny amount of information on each subject. Today, we are able to access so much more and in such a short time, and that can be a huge problem. 

"O, put me in thy books"
Finding something useful in my old encyclopaedia was not too difficult, even though it did not have an index at the back. Using the Contents page and scanning down the entries arranged in alphabetical order within a section made researching something quite an easy task. In order to be able to get back to any useful information, it was an easy thing to place between the pages a piece of paper, a bus ticket or even a bookmark specially made for the job. In later years, as I needed to find and use more and more information, I would use multi coloured post-its in an effort to be able to re-find useful information. Nowadays, I rarely use a paper based book to research a topic. Paper, leather and metal bookmarks are used for holding my place in a novel and even this is getting to be a rare occurrence as most of my books are now eBooks stored on electronic devices.   

Working in education, I embraced the Internet with enthusiasm. It is so easy to research things via search engines; finding huge amounts of both useful and not so useful information along the way. All browsers have bookmarking tools that I happily made use of and over the years I have bookmarked a huge range of websites on several different browsers on several different PCs, laptops and tablets. I have so many bookmarks that it is no longer a quick task to find something again. Most times it easier and actually quicker to start a new search. Experimenting with various bookmarking apps made it even worse as I usually could not even remember which app I had used to bookmark a website never mind in what folder or section I had saved it.   

Since retiring, I no longer have the need to bookmark educational websites but I have found I still wish to bookmark sites to come back to them later. Most of these are linked to my hobbies, both old and new. Although I occasionally still use a browser's own bookmarking tool to save a link to a site, I now prefer to use the Pinterest app to save links to useful information and inspirational pages in a visually organised system 

Using Pinterest to search for and bookmark information  

Pinterest app icon
Several years ago I downloaded and experimented a little with the Pinterest app. At the time I preferred to use an app called Pearltrees as this then provided a mapping representation of bookmarks and I find it useful to be able to visualise how websites relate to others within topics. A year or so ago, having decided I wanted to improve my drawing and painting skills, I turned to the Internet for inspiration and advice. Using a browser and bookmarking interesting websites didn't work so well, for reasons mentioned earlier, but then I remembered that Pinterest not only saves links as images but the app also helps with searching for relevant pages and sites. I decided to give it another go.  
Example of  my opening screen
Each bookmark is stored on an electronic pinboard as a pin, which is a visual link with one of the images from off the linked page along with information about the person who has pinned the page and where they have pinned it. 

Once an account has been set up Pinterest opens with a scolling screen of suggested pins linked to personal interests. On this screenshot it is easy to see that I am following Age UK and that I have been showing an interest in crocheting, art and butterflies. 

To pin any of the suggestions on the scrolling screen, it is really easy: 
  • Click on the image to open it in a full screen and then 
  • Click on the "Pin it" icon. 
  • Choose a board to pin it to or start a new one. 

Pins related to Monet
What is really clever about Pinterest is that having clicked on a image, other related pins are suggested in a scrolling screen below the pin. In the example here, many pins related to Monet are suggested. This includes pins about Monet's paintings but has also brought up pages about other artists too. It is really easy and quick to find other interesting pages to pin (bookmark) and so quickly build up and collection of related pins. 

The app is very user friendly. By clicking on the options at the bottom of the screen it is possible to:

  • Access the Home screen 
  • Search for new pins
  • Access News, Notifications and Messages

Results of search on "painting" and "butterflies"
New boards can be added to an account at any time. Boards can either be public or private. Public boards can be seen by your followers and others finding you on Pinterest. I do have a few followers and follow a few too but, as I am collecting together interesting pages and websites mainly for myself, I have not extensively explored the facility to follow other people or individual boards. I am gradually building up my stock of pins on boards related to my current interests and it is great to be able to see what I have bookmarked just by glancing at the images. The only problem I seem to have had with using this app has been pinning something I notice as being interesting only to find I have pinned it previously! 

Some of my boards
My public page on Pinterest

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