One of my aims of explore:ldn was to create a social hub page from which all the latest news, events and updates from London are aggregated across the major social media networks.
I initially undertook early research to identify the number of current services that enable content aggregation (collection) from across social media services. I found that whilst there are a number of highly effective services available, the majority all require vast payment subscriptions and business contracts that would not be ideal for this personal project.
In addition, I also researched the API services provided by social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. The advantage of directly accessing a social media API is that no payment feeds are required and content can be searched and customised more flexibly.
In turn, I completed a mini-research project whereby I created a Node.JS based Twitter application that searched and retrieved the latest tweets tagged with #London. This application used a number of useful resources via the Node Packet Manager (NPM) service such as the Twit library that provided quick and easy access/authentication with the Twitter Rest API. However, whilst this mini-project proved successful, I did not feel I had the time or resources available to implement and integrate the project within the Expore:ldn website framework given the tight deadlines.
However, after analysing the remainder of solutions available I came across a fantastic online tool named Curator. This tool enables users to search, retrieve, aggregate and present resources from across all the major social media networks. Moreover, the social feed can be easily customised and altered using an online dashboard provided by Curator. This social feed can then be easily integrated within the explore:ldn by using the a html embed link provided by Curator. In addition, Curator provides further user tracking information such as source views in order to user behaviours and therefore make feed improvements and heighten engagement rates.
Whilst Curator is a fantastic service, it does hold a number of drawbacks worth considering for future use. Firstly, there are a number of limitations for “free” user accounts. These limits include restrictions on sources, posts gathered and user views. Moreover, the presentation of the social posts within the aggregated grid lacks customisability due to the framework nature of Curator.
For future use I will consider further developing the Node JS based application alongside other social media API’s to create a personalised aggregation service for my own projects.