Pearltrees = Social Media + Mindmapping + Bookmarks


Okay, so Pearltrees has been around for three years now, and I am finally catching on.  Pearltrees is best described as a visual bookmark system that meshes social media with mindmaps.  I was introduced to the tool by Debbie Morrison who blogs at online learning insights.  Here is her Pearltree.  The basic concept is that Pearltrees organizes bookmarks by type in a branching system.  Debbie’s is a well-organized system that reflects her varied research interests and expertise in education.

My immediate application for Pearltrees was to present the annotated references students collect each fall for my Museum Practices class in the Museum Studies program at the University of Memphis.  Over the past few years, my intent was to build a library of references over time.  Prior to Pearltrees, I envisioned the references might live on a WikiPage or as an Excel file.  Pearltrees is a perfect answer to creating a very effective presentation.  Here is the Pearltree from this year’s seminar that includes a selection of the student’s references and my own organized by topical area within the field of Museum Studies.  I intend to subdivide each topic a bit further.  Specific to my Museum Practices seminar, this Pearltree will be useful as follows:

  • In class I usually run through a good number of websites during a single seminar class.  Presently, I open up a bunch of urls in Google Chrome and present the sites in a linear fashion.  With Pearltrees I can pick and choose references in a nonlinear visual fashion to be in line with the flow of the actual discussion and not the flow of the search engine list.  In this regard, Pearltrees can be envisioned like a Prezi presentation.
  • The Museum Practices seminar has created the annotated references for the past three years.  This year is the first time the results have gotten beyond the e-courseware discussion tab or the Excel spreadsheet.  I really like that next year’s class can check the current Pearltree to be certain their additions are not redundant but increase, grow, and expand the resource.
  • As a practical matter, the cutting edge reference of this year can be old news by next year or the webpage might no longer exist.  As well, the constant addition of links could make a Pearltree unusably complex.  The occasional pruning of the Pearltree will maximize the tools utility.  Also, when you hover over an individual pearl in preview, if the link is dead, you get notice of same and can easily delete the item from the Pearltree.
  • The Related Pearltrees icon or search tools take you to PearlTrees with content similar to your own.  You can then view, pick from other folks Pearltrees and add to your own tree.  As you are cruising the internet with a single click you can add links to your Pearltrees.
  • Beyond classroom presentation, Pearltrees is a fantastic information resource.  For example, I noted Debbie Morrison Pearltrees above.  I know that she has considerable expertise in online education.  If I am looking for current thinking on MOOCs, I know that I am going to get a more focused and relevant set of links from her Pearltrees than if I were to simply do a Google search.  Her Pearltrees will offer me a good entry point and current discussions on MOOCs.

Everything discussed above is available with the free version of Pearltrees.  For a fee customizable features and private Pearltrees are available.

Seemingly, two possible downsides to Pearltrees include:

  • If the service goes away and you have a ton of bookmarks and time invested in the project, the work will go down the drain.  There is no reason to believe Pearltrees is going away anytime soon but even Facebook will go the way of Friendster some day.
  • If Pearltrees decides to start charging for or altering their service – ditto the above concern but a bit less of a crisis.

And of course what review would be complete without a Pearltree of Pearltrees Reviews

Do you use Pearltrees?  If so, does it work for you?

  4 comments for “Pearltrees = Social Media + Mindmapping + Bookmarks

  1. December 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Robert, This is a really helpful post. Helpful too is the work of your students. I am teaching Curatorship this spring and thus your post could not have been better timed. Thank you. Jason

    • December 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm


      I am pleased this will be helpful to you. I am rather new to this and I am curious to see how the process can spread beyond individual projects. I look forward to working on this in the coming months.



  2. April 3, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    This article was very informative and helpful being a student myself so thank you! I just discovered pearl tree recently and I love it. It wasn’t too complicated to learn (I’m still trying to get the hang of Prezi but I think once I finally grasp it it will be much more interesting for my classmates watching presentations than a plain power point) and it is such a great resource. Thanks for the tips!

    • April 4, 2013 at 1:57 am

      Taylor, I am pleased the post was helpful to you. Since writing the post, I continue to become more of a “believer” in Pearltrees – a great system on many levels.

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