A space organization mobile magazine created with Google Currents
The Associazione ISAA mobile magazine on Google Currents for Android on a Nexus S phone

The Associazione ISAA mobile magazine on Google Currents for Android on a Nexus S phone

I am a board member of ISAA, the Italian Space and Astronautics Association, which is a typical volunteer-run space enthusiast organization. We do a range of information, outreach and education activities including a space news portal, a podcast, events, and experimental projects such as high altitude balloon launches. Our content and updates on these activities are spread among a dozen ordinary web sites and online resources like video channels and photo albums.

Space enthusiasts often consume online content with smartphones and tablets. The use of mobile devices is actually growing so fast that in a few years they will outgrow traditional PCs and laptops. If you are a space tweep, I guess you are already well aware of this trend.

There are good apps for consuming online news in a mobile friendly way. The most popular are Flipboard, Zite and Pulse News. They repackage news feeds in an elegant, magazine-like layout. Google Currents is the latest such app and is probably not as widely used as the others, but it may be the most versatile and promising for online publishers.

Currents provides a powerful mobile content aggregation, layout management and publishing environment called Producer. Unlike the more limited, single feed oriented content access features of other newsreaders, Producer lets you group different RSS and social feeds into a unified magazine-like mobile experience. Anybody with a Google account can freely use Producer to create publications (editions in Currents lingo), not just selected media partners. Readers can subscribe to free editions and read them with the Currents app available for Android and iOS, for both tablets and smartphones.

With the help of other ISAA members I put together Associazione ISAA, a Currents edition aggregating most of our online content. Each magazine section collects and displays content from a single RSS blog feed, social feed, YouTube video channel, Flickr photo set or other sources. Like magazines, readers can browse sections and articles or access a table of contents.

A section of Associazione ISAA on Google Currents for Android on a Nexus S phone in landscape mode

A section of Associazione ISAA on Google Currents for Android on a Nexus S phone in landscape mode

If you manage different online space resources, creating and customizing a basic Currents edition is as simple as filling some forms or uploading images and media. Once an edition is in place, it updates automatically by pulling new content from feeds and other sources.

I encourage you to check our Associazione ISAA mobile magazine and see what is possible. It is in Italian but you can read it anyway thanks to another handy Currents feature, machine translation. To translate article text in you own language, tap the globe icon in the bottom toolbar of the Currents app. Translation quality ranges from barely acceptable to fairly accurate. This feature may open your content and activities to a wider audience, the international audience of space enthusiasts.

Have you created any space-related Currents editions?