Pearltrees, out of France, offers a kind of visual mapping of the internet. It is a form of social-bookmarking, like Delicious.com – however, it is more than a text-based database of saved bookmarks and tags. One’s bookmarks (or Pearls) stand in visual relation with other pearls and on contextual branches. Even more interesting, one may browse and discover nearby Pearltrees based upon similarity in content and metadata.
The dimensions that I find even more compelling, are that as an internationally used site that is visually and contextually arranged, not only does it seem to be used by many artists, designers and other visual and intuitive thinkers, but it offers intriging geo-political dimensions as well. No longer limited by the wall of text (which may be in a language that one is not savvy in) – one can visually browse foreign political, social, cultural, historical content based upon relational and contextual braccia. Just as one learns languages best by immersion and context, exposure to this visual arrangement of foreign links strengthens not only one’s understanding of that language, but increases exponentially one’s intuitive grasp of the creator’s content.
A brief sample from Dec. 4, 2009 of current Pearl categories contained many political, technical, artistic and theoretical subjects: Data Visualization, Social Media, Twitter, e-Democratie, Photos ‘Creative Commons’, Hackers/Hacking, Languages semantique, Teacher Resources, Google.
-There does not seem to be privacy settings similar to Delicious.com whereby one can choose to share a bookmark or not.
-There is the ability to import one’s Delicious.com bookmarks which I was initially thrilled about – yet after doing so I discovered that Pearltrees essentially threw the new Pearls on randomly created branches that did not seem governed by contextual relevance. I do not know if this is a problem of the metadata itself – I was not able to discern a logical pattern to how these Pearls were created nor grouped based upon my Delicious tags. At this point I removed my import and will hand curate the Pearltrees.
-Moving and connecting the Pears to ‘Treebranches’ feels like maneuvering a kite around a flock of other kites: awkward and sticky, the Pearl-visualized-data eagerly gravitates to nearby branches like tail of a kite enjoying getting tangled. This is a frustration.
-A feature that would be nice: the ability to mouse-over a Pearl in order to see the listed metadata.