Top Ten Friday: Curation Tools

Curating, collecting and organizing content on the web can consume a lot of time, especially when you’re not always sure where to find the best content. Using a curation tool can help save you hours of time by pulling in content from across the web and social networks, so you can browse through the best available content based on the topic of your choosing. Here are some of our favorite tools to help you find the best content out there.

10. Bundlr

Bookmark your favorite content and also discover new content. Create topic pages with different types of content, such as photos, videos, and tweets. Then share your topic pages on your networks.

9. Themeefy

Themeefy allows you to curate to your own magazine with your favorite content. You can add web links directly from the page or insert content from Twitter and Facebook. Create a theme with your photos to make it your own.

8. Newsle

Newsle allows you to receive updates for when your friends, colleagues or anyone you choose is mentioned in the news, an article or press release. Not your ordinary content curation tool, but it can be useful to see when someone you know is being recognized for their work.

7. Storify

Storify allows you to tell a story through content curation using text, images and videos that pull from social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram and more. Search for stories related to events, news stories, specific topics, etc., then proceed to drag and drop to your page. You can also add your own comments and even embed the story into a blog post.

6. IFTTT

Create recipes that push articles to a saved location for you to read later. Set an RSS feed from any site and push the content to your Evernote. Connect your Feedly account to push content to your Evernote or your email. There are more than 60 channels to choose from, which gives you a plethora of ways to find and store content you want to read.

5. Evernote

Evernote is one of the most popular tools for any business pro. It helps keep you organized at your desk or on the go in the cloud. But, you can also set up the “Evernote Web Clipper,” which allows you to save text, links and images to your account while surfing the web.

4. Feedly

Unofficially known as the replacement for Google Reader, Feedly is a way for users to subscribe to their favorite blogs or websites via the RSS feed, and organize content into a simple layout for an easy read.

3. Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the most popular tools on the web. Its versatility has been key to its popularity. Aside from just being fun, Pinterest can also be used as a great bookmarking and content curation tool. Adding the “Pin It” bookmarklet to your browser allows you to Pin any article or page to a specified board for you to revisit at your convenience.

2. Scoopit

Choose topics and then set keywords or websites you’d like Scoopit to pull content from. You decide which articles you want to “scoop” to your topic page and then dismiss the rest. Add the bookmarklet to your browser and add content while you browse the web. Scoopit also gives you the opportunity to share your content to any of your social media channels.

1. Flipboard

Originally just a mobile app, Flipboard now also has a web version available. It allows you to create “magazines” related to topics of your choosing. With a sleek interface and magazine-style structure, Flipboard has exploded in popularity this year. Like other tools, you select categories and keywords to search for content and then curate them into your magazine, which users can subscribe to or you can share on your social networks.

What are your favorite tools for curating content?

Check out our last TTF post to get a fun feel of what it’s like to work at z2. Stay tuned for upcoming TTF posts in the future!

August 30, 2013 · Posted by in TTF  

Alarm clocks have changed over time. No, really, check out the Wikipedia page!) Are you still using a tired old clock radio with big red LEDs on the front?

Old Clock

This is probably what most people think of when they picture an alarm clock…

…not a big chunk of wood.

New Clock

The Alarming Clock takes a (somewhat) new approach by presenting a nice looking object which also just happens to be an alarm clock. It has a digital display, but it’s hidden on the bottom. It doesn’t have a speaker that emits some digital beep, instead it takes a lesson from the old-school alarm clocks with bells and physically hits an object to create sound.

Sure, you might not be ready to shell out approximately $470 USD for this alarm clock, but it’s always nice to see what designers can come up with when faced with re-imagining something that’s been around for so many year and hasn’t changed much over time.

I’m still not convinced you need 8 hours of sleep every night though. ;)

August 27, 2013 · Posted by in art, design  

There are a lot of things that make z2 stand out from the crowd–some of which you may not have known about… until now! Here’s a list of things that make us slightly unique.

10. You work in socks or slippers all day

Shoes? Who needs shoes? It’s much more comfortable to walk around in your socks or slippers. More relaxing, too.

9. You have vintage items laying around

Macintosh Plus

Whether it’s a 1980s Mac, a VCR or floppy disks, you’ll get quite a feel of nostalgia walking around our office.

8. You rarely hear the same song twice

With more than 18 days of music on our in-house radio station, hearing the same song twice in a month is rare. Unless it’s “Make The Logo Bigger!”

7. You’re the first to sign the “Hall of Fame” plaque

wall

Everyone who walks through our doors must sign the wall. Each year, a new one is put up. It’s a nice representation of how far we’ve come and all the people who’ve been there for the journey.

6. You work with fish

fish tank

We have three fish tanks throughout the building. It’s rare if you don’t pass them at least a few times per day.

5. You see guitars everywhere

guitars

We have a lot of guitars as well as people who like to strum the stress away. Our very own Cory Zimmermann even has his own band!

4. You’ve done yoga in the commons

Once a week, z2 hosts a yoga class for its employees. We also have a hula-hoop class every Thursday. While we work hard, we also like to have fun and let loose once in awhile.

3. You know how to make coffee the “Cory way”

coffee

There’s only one way to beat that coffee machine… and that’s the Cory way. The process is too long to explain, but let’s just say if you’re not certified to make it, Starbucks is the next best bet.

2. You’ve used the photo studio, recording studio or the sound stage

We do a lot of filming and recording here and often use employees to test things out. Basically, it’s free acting classes for us.

1. You end each week with Cosmo Friday

Cosmo Friday

Cosmo Friday at the bar is one of our favorite activities. (You can even check in on Foursquare!) Every Friday, as we begin to shut down at the end of the day, we mingle and relax with a Blue Moon (Cory’s beer of choice) or two. It’s a great way to connect with teammates.

Those are just a few of the fun things that make us unique. We hope you enjoyed the trip through our office! What makes your office unlike any other?

Check out our last TTF post about the best workplace movies and check back every Friday for more TTF posts!

August 23, 2013 · Posted by in TTF  

Light up your brain with ACT

Have you ever felt that brainstorming sessions seem to sputter out after about 20 minutes and often leave you well short of “big idea” territory? Well, maybe it’s time to give ACT a try.

Ah, but what is this “ACT,”, you ask. Some new energy drink?  Actually, no.  It’s Anticonventional Creative Thinking (ACT for short), and if you’re not familiar with it already, it’s worth taking a little time to investigate.

When I first came across an article about Anticonventional Creative Thinking, I was as suspicious as I was intrigued. Actually, more suspicious than intrigued. But after reading about how it works, it quickly became apparent that this approach has the potential to yield far more creative solutions to advertising problems than “brainstorming.”

Jeffrey Baumgartner, an author/artist/teacher/businessman/speaker and vocal proponent of ACT, has written pretty extensively about ACT and is the self-proclaimed developer of the process.  He actually has a lot of interesting articles on his website, besides the ones on ACT. But right now, you just want to know what the heck this ACT thing is all about, right?

ACT isn’t like the typical brainstorming session in which a moderator facilitates a discussion, writes down everyone’s ideas on the whiteboard, and assures everyone that “no idea is a bad idea.”  Instead, participants are encouraged to ask open-ended questions (and lots of them) about the problem at hand. Not just logical questions, but challenging and off-the-wall questions. The goal is to come up with really outrageous solutions. Oh, and there’s no holding back on criticism— anything ordinary or conventional is to be dismissed on the spot. At the end of your session, you should have a handful of really good ideas, instead of the typical wall full of dreck that someone has to then sort through to find the good ideas.

As we all know, criticism is one thing that can make people clam up real quickly in a brainstorming session. Baumgartner addresses the merits of criticism in an article that compares the opposing camps of ACT and brainstorming: “Recent tests are also demonstrating that the most sacrosanct rule of brainstorming, reserved judgment, is not effective. When participants are allowed to criticize ideas, ideation events result in more creative ideas.”  He goes on to explain that there should be three rules to this criticism:

  1. Criticism is to focus on conventional ideas and boring ideas.
  2. Criticism will always be formulated politely and respectfully.
  3. Whenever an idea is criticized, the person who suggested the idea and anyone else in the group must be allowed, and indeed encouraged, to defend the idea.

Are you still scratching your head wondering exactly how Anticonventional Creative Thinking works?  Baumgartner outlines a good example of it in this article. Although the scenario is different from a typical advertising problem, this should give you a pretty good picture of how an ACT session goes.

Interestingly, Baumgartner has actually done some research with MRI imaging, which shows that Anticonventional Creative Thinking not only engages the entire brain, as opposed to just the small area of the brain shown to be active during more conventional brainstorming, but that it also minimizes activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal and lateral orbital regions of the brain that act as the brain’s censorship bureau. He documents this toward the back of his 17-page white paper on Anticonventional Creative Thinking, which you can download for free.

As with anything as nebulous as creativity, the jury is still out on ACT, though it has a growing share of converts from “brainstorming.” Take a look at ACT for yourself and the next time we all get together to come up with ideas for something, maybe we can see how it works for us.

 

August 20, 2013 · Posted by in misc  

If you work in an office setting, you probably have an appreciation for workplace movies and TV shows. You can understand and relate to the culture, problems faced, fun had, and relationships built within that type of work environment. We certainly can. With that, please enjoy the 10 best workplace movies and TV shows chosen by the z2ers.

10. Boiler Room

Boiler Room

Best sales movie since Glengarry Glen Ross?

9. The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada

Would you still want to work in the fashion industry after watching Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada?

8. The Newsroom

Newsroom

Although only in its second season, The Newsroom has gained an immense amount of popularity because of its realism and inside look behind the industry.

7. 30 Rock

30 Rock

If you enjoy workplace shenanigans, then 30 Rock is for you!

6. Parks and Rec

Parks and Rec

Ron Swanson is among the best TV show characters ever created, the entire cast is hilarious and the one-liners are never-ending. If you want to work in an office and avoid actual work, then working at the Parks and Recreation department, in Pawnee, IN, is where your future lies.

5. Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross

ABC: Always Be Closing!

4. Wall Street

Wall Street

Being a stockbroker on Wall Street is a cutthroat profession. Charlie Sheen shows viewers just how difficult that career path is and the price paid for success.

3. The Office

 The Office

The Office has been a favorite of many professionals because nearly everyone can relate to various moments throughout the series. From interoffice relationships and crazy shenanigans to Dwight Schrute, many offices have experienced their own version of craziness in one way or another.

2. Office Space

Office Space

TPS reports, paper jams, missing staplers and Lumbergh are just a few of the reasons why Office Space is one of the greatest workplace movies of all-time. Am I right?

1. Mad Men

Mad Men

In the 1960s, Madison Avenue was the place every advertising creative wanted to work–and that still may hold true today. Mad Men not only gives us an inside look on how ad agencies worked years ago, but also provides a great history lesson of advertising. With an epic storyline and cast of characters, Mad Men is one of the best workplace shows on television.

What are some of your favorite workplace movies and TV shows?

Check out our last TTF post for tips on how to make your blog posts shine a little brighter and stay tuned for upcoming TTF posts in the future!

August 16, 2013 · Posted by in TTF  

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