Spundge: A Collaborative Solution To Online Information Overload

As a journalist, I spend much of my time sifting through media from the social networks, RSS feeds, and blogs I follow. I need ways to filter out the noise and focus on the good stuff, and I bet that other content creators like marketers, analysts, developers and entrepreneurs could use the same thing. I think I've found the right tool for the job.

Spundge is a streaming service for searching, sharing and publishing Web content. It filters search results from sources you chose (social media, RSS, keyword, etc.) to save you time finding the information you need to do your job. Spundge also helps publish that information in blog posts and stories in a way similar to Storify shares social-network conversations. And it lets you do this in collaboration with other users, meaning you can share searches and add and tweak other people's searches. 

While Spundge caters to journalists, it lends itself to other uses. Writers of corporate blogs, social media and e-mail newsletters all need improved searches and data filters to gather relevant material. 

Julie Westfall, curation editor at Digital First Media, an online and print publisher and venture fund, has been using Spundge to find better story-telling tools "that are still practical enough for everyday use." Westfall said Spundge improves content discovery and collaboration for a variety of communication needs, calling it "a really nice back end that will allow a lot of flexibility. Because it operates more like a traditional back-end content-management system with added social integration, I see potential for small sites to use it as an everyday tool."   

Stream This

The service publicly debuted at last month's ONA conference in San Francisco and already boasts more than 1,000 sign-ups without any traditional PR or outreach. It comes in a  free version and a $9-per-month version for large-scale organizations.

Here's how it works: The tool lets you cull media from multiple sources like keyword searches, social networks, blogs, and RSS feeds, filtered by time, location and language. It organizes the material into "noteboks" that can be viewed as headlines and summaries. Results can also be shared for collaboration or published by dropping notebook items into a text window and publishing via WordPress or Tumblr. 

Spundge is also tinkering with new ways to monetize the material you collect, looking for ways to create advertising that fits in with content. That endeavor is still in early testing, with Spundge looking at working with brands and publishers. 

A New Way To Curate Media

"It's an end-to-end platform to track and monitor content, and from there to publish it," explained Craig Silverman, Spundge's journalist-in-residence and founder of Poynter's Regret the Error blog. Silverman said the service makes his work at Poynter easier, speeding up his workflow and helping him avoid getting bogged down reading 100 media blogs and news feeds. "I save about 45 minutes a day," he says. "We went with newsrooms first because they have an acute problem with information overload," Silverman said. "For us, there was a moment of realization that starting with newsroooms made sense because so many organizations had to mimic that: Turning knowledge into content." 

Silverman thinks the ways we curate online content are outdated and hopes Spundge's collaboration capabilities will help people rise above the information overload that threatens to overwhelm us all. "Collaboration is really key," he said, describing Spundge's collaboration features as a constant editorial meeting in real life. Twitter, RSS feeds, email newsletters, none of these things talk to each other or are collaborative, Silverman pointed out. "It allows a variety of people in organizations to stay on top of interests." 

Right now, 20 newsrooms are using the service, including the Guardian, Atlantic Media's new startup Quartz, and Digital First Media. Early adopters also include marketers, PR agencies, and communication professionals in the nonprofit and financial sectors who want to track causes and master what Silverman calls "large knowledge challenges."