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Over the past weeks, I have been test driving a co-curation tool called Mightybell, and I’ve had a series of discussions with the founder and CEO, Gina Bianchini, so I now think I have a handle on her vision and the state of the app. Bianchini was also the founder of Ning, which she left in March 2010.
I am using the term “co-curation” to carefully differentiate this tool and its ilk (Dispatch and Honey, for example) from other categories of coworking tools, like work media (enterprise social networks) and team task management solutions.
Co-curation is the sharing of URLs, documents, and notes among members of defined groups or open networks. Unlike work-media tools and task-management solutions, they are not coordinative at their core: They do not support tasks or work assignment, for example. Instead, the primary pattern of interaction is posting with the intention of inciting discussion, reflection, and, eventually, group cooperation.
Mightybell’s website spells this distinction out fairly clearly:
Mightybell is about infusing passion and color into everyday life. Too often, we spend time on what we have to do, not what we want to do. We’ve lost the ability to follow what makes us curious, in favor of choosing what makes us more efficient.
With Mightybell, you can step into a world of curiosity and serendipity. By making space for ideas, interests and adventures with friends, you’re embracing the opportunity to create a more colorful life. Each Mightybell space has a story, one you can share with as many like minded people as you want.
We hope you enjoy your time on Mightybell, and will make space for a new curiosity. It doesn’t take much: a question, an article, a link, a video or a photo about something that interests you is all you need to start a Mightybell space. After all, you never know when you’ll discover your next passion.
Mightybell is being marketed and positioned for non-business use, but there is nothing stopping businesses or freelancers from using it in a business setting, per se.
Mightybell is based around “circles,” which are intended to refer to circles of people, but are named for a topic or an activity, generally.
Circles can be private (accessible and known only to those invited) or public (accessible and known to anyone with a Mightybell account). Circle content can optionally be marked as part of a collection, which acts as categories, and can be used to organize the contents of circles. Here you see a phony circle with three collections:
The basic arrangement within a circle is this:
Along the top you see I have selected “posts,” and these are displayed like on Pinterest, organized by latest activity. Optionally I could select “most active” or “by collection.” Also along the top are other capabilities of circles: conversations, events, and members, and to the right a circle chat room. The circle activity tab shows an activity stream.
Events are the one coordinative feature of Mightybell, and they are intended to support members of circle to actually meet, face-to-face. The feature supports polling for available times, and so on. It’s very unlike the remaining co-curation orientation.
Although posts of all types — URLs, files, and notes — all support a comment thread, the folks at Mightybell introduced the conversations feature last week. I thought this was unneeded, since it doesn’t add much functionally than what was already available, simply bundling together a group of posts into a aggregated discussion forum.
Each of the posts in the conversation is shown — at the top level of the forum — as a thumbnail of the post and the last comment made. To see the entire post of comment you click on it, and then you are shown that post in its entirety. Here you see that the comments are threaded, as well:
I asked Bianchini why she added the conversation feature when it’s so much like top-level posts and the tool already supported “collections” as an aggregation or filter mechanism. She replied in this way:
As for why we added them. You are totally right that they mirror much of the functionality of Posts. For a one-person collaboration space, Conversations aren’t necessary.
However, what we have seen in practice – and the feedback on this has been overwhelming and consistent from our members – they feel like Posts are for organizing more formal, structured resources and inspiration, Chat is great for fleeting comments or Live Chats, but there isn’t anywhere for those casual conversations that feel familiar to have in a Conversation. In fact, we heard that for this purpose of a casual conversation, Posts feel like they are overkill. Go figure. :-)
The bottom line
Mightybell is a well-designed, easy-to-use, and easy-on-the-eyes community co-curation application intended for use by organizations — whether formal or informal — wanting a common platform for sharing information, chat, discussion, and to coordinate events. While intended for non-commercial use, there is nothing in Mightybell that wouldn’t be necessary or helpful for commercial organizations looking for a co-curation solution.
The pace of innovation and growth at Mightybell is pretty impressive, so I will have to keep a close watch on its progress.
[update: Monday10 June 2013 — Mightybell decided to call “discussions” “conversations” instead, so I have updated throughout to reflect that change.]