Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Seven sites in seven days: 18-24 Dec 06

Whoops a bit tardy, today is boxing day, but then I have Xmas excuses. Some interesting pages and sites that I have bookmarked during the 'past' week's browsing are:

1. A spot of zeitgeist: Time magazine Time's Person of the Year: You is a short ode to the web of 2006, user centrality, and user generated content. Dan Farber takes a more cynical take here, but you must admit the read/write web looks to transform things just a little. Of course we are still stuck in early adoption, with the "emerging rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will "interact" with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it." [The Guardian] But you ain't seen nothing yet...

Diagram above, not the Time cover, but a web 2.0 diagram by Markus Angemier.

2. Moving from now to the future, I chanced on Delta Scan: The Future of Science and Technology, 2005-2055. This is a part of Stanford's Metamedia Lab. I'll be checking this out over the next few weeks, as tasters: Mobile phone use helps economic growth in developing countries, and the claim that gas is a clean energy source (well as compared to coal), not clearly labelled "will harm the environment" for my liking. But worth an ongoing browse, I think.

3. Techspot: The biggest news, IMHO, in recent weeks comes from this post at Mozilla Labs: "Today Mozilla Labs is releasing Operator, a microformat detection extension developed by Michael Kaply at IBM. Operator demonstrates the usefulness of semantic information on the Web, in real world scenarios." Yes, we'll have more of that, shaken, stirred, whatever.... If you're an elearning type, idling your time away on this site, then perhaps wonder what this might do for elearning. Need to capture something somewhere for a class project? Want to get the next thing to do in a learning design you are following?

5. I sometimes go to the excellent Dorkbot in London, to see things like this exploding guitar string (from the Flickr dorkbot London tag). A site run by some Dorkbot people is and a loosely associated site is Let the People Speak. And one of the sub-projects on that site is Directionless Enquiries, "an open-source community call centre where users take turns being the caller and the call-centre agent. /Make calls from the street and get put through to friends online who can tell you about your location, and receive calls from people who are lost and in need of help in your hometown." A do-it-yourself assistance service! Go do! Well, the software appears to be in the latter stages of development, enough to put up a trial service. It's good stuff.

4. Cheating a bit, I'll throw in two point-by-point e-learning summaries, Seven Steps to Better E-learning by Clark N. Quinn, and the UK's Teaching and Learning Research Programme's Ten Principles of Learning and Teaching.

6. And glancing off the web 2.0 items above, while diametrically opposing the community hactivism of Directionless Enquires, maybe its time to turn to a year end review of web 2.0 in the enterprise = enterprise 2.0. Dion Hinchcliffe gives a round up of the year in enterprise 2.0, and, guess what? He too quotes the 1% rule of thumb, but this time dressed up as the "Social Media Value Creation Pyramid." Talk about value creation...

7. Finally, if Xmas has hit your pockets and you need some free fiction to read over the New Year break you might try FLURB: A webzine of Astonishing Tales edited by Randy Rucker, of cyberpunk fame.

That's it for this week, I'm off to hack a little as Boxing Day relaxation.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Seven sites in seven days: 11-17 Dec 06

I thought I'd do a regular highlights of my bookmarking activities, because I do see a lot of sites on the web, and bookmark those that interest me in the spirit of my physical library — I'd rather have something on my bookshelf that I can turn to in a time of need than nothing at all. If you dip into this blog on occasion, you too might be interested in some of the sites I consider worthwhile; this is the start of a hopefully regular series highlighting selected posts. If you want to see all my posts I found a small SupGlu demo that shows my posts (the URL may change and if so will be updated here), or you can use delicious.

In a spirit of reckless abandon I've called this post "Seven sites in seven days" and I'll try to continue this kind of post every Sunday, but I do have doubts about some of my compulsive abilities... What the heck, here goes, it's called that now. Set up a sweepstake to see how long I can maintain this.

You'll find that posts entitled "Seven sites..." are not about sites per se, but rather sites, pages, posts, and/or anything with a URL that takes my fancy. So you might find a wide variety of topics here. This week things are mostly about learning and the web.

In no particular order, seven highlights from my last seven days of bookmarking:

Adam Garry and Parry Graham, Using Study Groups to Disseminate Technology Best Practices. A post from 2004, this provides a how to guide to using collaborative study groups and reflection to improve teacher practice (or any other area of endeavour)> Nice how to guide that has an emphasis on productive work practices, and a couple of example of previously effective study groups.

Nancy Blachman, Google Guide. A bunch of clear explanatory web pages on how Google works, with pages for novices and for experienced users.

Marc Prensky, Writings. PDFs of some of Presnsky's writing. Marc is the author of "Digital Game-Based Learning" and "Don't bother me now Mom - I'm learning". I've bookmarked this to go back to the two part article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (it's second part is Do They REALLY Think Differently?).

Philipp Lenssen Lessons Learned Self-Publishing With Lulu. Seb Schmoller of the fabulous Fortnightly Mailing turned me onto Lulu, which I think I've come across before, but without the shock of realisation. I had an extremely negative experience of publishing with Addison Wesley (although I liked the book that resulted from the experience) and Lulu promises to revolutionise the experience of publishing my next edited monograph. In the link here Phillip Lenssen gives a view of self-publishing with Lulu from the trenches.

Andrew Beacock republishes a handy bookmarklet to associate Technorati tags with posts in Oddiophile's Technorati Tags Bookmarklet. There are several ways to do this, Google around and find a few, or see what you can find in my Technorati bookmarks. Don't know what a Technorati tag is? Try this.

LifeHacker provides Alpha Geek: Video Editing 101, a simple guide to video editing on Windows platforms with Microsoft Movie Maker.

Pew Internet, Riding the Waves of "Web 2.0". I like the Pew Internet site for its evidence based reports on the internet and its development. Here they do the Web2.0 thing, but you may find the site an interesting browse.

Fred Stutzman, Social Networking: Five Sites You Need to Know. Not so important in my view for the five sites that Stutzman mentions, but rather for the three trends that he identifies towards the end of his post:
  1. Social networking is becoming content-centric
  2. Social networking is in the vanguard of micro-payment
  3. Social networking for the sake of social networking just doesn't cut it.

Technorati Tags:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Problems in building PLEs using web2.0 components

I found the following video via Solution Watch.

It's a well-known situation that prevents widespread uptake of web2.0 tools for Personal Learning Environments (PLEs).

There are ways around this problem: I use FireFox's password manager to remember usernames and passwords for sites which only need a low level of security (with backups of my usernames and passwords in a secure place). If any of those sites have a "leave me loged in" or "remember me on this computer" box to check, I check the box before logging in. Together these tactics save a LOT of hassle.

In my view, the other major problem in web2.0 uptake for PLEs is difficulty in linking material between sites. Yes, I know a little configuration, or, worse, HTML hacking, and there you are; Flickr photo's on your favorite site. But it's such a drag for the non-technical amongst us, and it's a surface-level solution that does not achieve the 'deeper' integration of content that that might be achieved in a single integrated application.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Snap previews

I've added Snap previews to this blog. Please take a moment to let me know, using the comment feature below, if you find them useful or not, and I'll keep them or remove them accordingly. Thanks.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Using delicious effectively

This post is about delicious (read del.icio.us, if you will) , a social bookmarking service. A typical delicious screen appears on the left (click to enlarge).

If you don't know what social bookmarking is try reading this dry Wikipedia article, or, preferably, watch this video. The video is in .wmv format, so you probably need some Microsoft thing to play it. Windows Media Player springs to life when I watch it on my laptop.

I'm doing a demo of some web2.0 systems this afternoon, and I haven't got any material on delicious (read del.icio.us, if you will) for my colleagues to turn to, if they want to, after the demo. So I've been looking around for useful material on the web. I've collated a few sources of guide material, but this post is by no means a full user guide for delicious.

Also, some bits of this post are FireFox specific; I eschew Internet Explorer (IE) in favour of FireFox, a fine open source browser with a useful extension capability and no glaring ActiveX security holes. You can download FireFox version 2 from here. If you are an IE user, look at this, and some of the later material below.

Firstly, when I started using delicious, I used bookmarklets to deal with the business of posting. Confused by bookmarklets? Check out this page to see them used for delicious. Well and good, but each time I posted a bookmark to delicious, the current page that I was bookmarking was replaced by a 'post to delicious' page, and then after I had posted, was replaced by the original page. Bookmarklets were a help, but still I had to wait for two page refreshes, a boringly long time, sometimes.

Moving to toolbar buttons was a fantastic advance (check them out here). Now on using the 'post to delicious' or 'tag' button, a pop-up window appears for delicious tagging information, and closes once the post has been made. Easier and smoother, particularly as text that you select on the page being tagged is copied to the comment field in the tag at delicious window.

But occasionally (and I don't know if its just me or my systems) I can't use a toolbar button to post bookmark for a PDF, so I keep a post to delicious bookmarklet knocking around on my browser's personal toolbar.

A quick tour of using delicious with FireFox is here.

That's it for setting up your FireFox browser. What about general advice? Basic delicious usage is covered in Using Delicious in Education, which boasts " You can see that we’ve quickly taken bookmarking and made it wickedly interesting." Wicked!

Actually, that last reference is to a page on Google Docs and Spreadsheets, a site for collaboratively editing, surprise, documents and spreadsheets. The author of Using Delicious in Education, John Pederson, invites collaborative editing and development of the document. He's just starting a similar document Using Wikipedia in Education, where he makes a similar invitation. If you want to help you'll have to start by finding his email at the end of either document.

What to learn to do next? Well you could develop your skills with David Brunelle's Become a del.icio.us Power User, and similarly with the excellent Slacker Manager's The Several Habits of Wildly Successful del.icio.us Users. But beware, in the latter, the inbox has been replaced by 'links for you' and 'subscriptions' (near the top right of your delicious pages once you are logged in).

Or you could browse what has been tagged with delicious or del.icio.us at delicious. These two links return different results.

Incidentally, its worth looking at the syntax of the URLs for the previous links, you can see what is tagged with a particlar tag, e.g., marshmallow, simply by typing del.icio.us/tag/marshmallow directly into your browser's URL field and hitting return. Or you can look at a user's use of a tag, e.g. mvh's use of web2.0, by typing something like del.icio.us/mvh/web2.0 in the URL field and hitting return. Copy and paste to try them... Or be lazy and try these: 1, 2.

Only interested in items taggged with both marshmallow and recipes? Use del.icio.us/tag/marshmallow+recipes, try 3.

There are some third party tools out there for delicious, also here. Personally, I don't get too excited by them, but, ha ha, watch for a later post where I change my tune, particularly if enough people comment below about their favourite third party tool.

Let me get ready to leave you by showing you a third party tool that I do use sometimes; John Vey's very web2.0 del.icio.us director, shown here (click it to enlarge).

And, finally, do please remember to leave yourself logged into delicious all the time. You'll find it a help when posting to delicious.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Using Flickr more effectively...

For some time now I've been thinking that there must be more interesting things for me to do with Flickr than use it as an occasional repository for a few digital photos. This week I'm giving a presentation on various sites on the web to some colleagues, and I thought that I'd mosey around and see what I could dig up on Flickr.

First off, I discovered an excellent image on Flickr from cogdog, What Can we do with Flickr. Fantastic! A photo with attached notes that lead to further material. I've captured the image off a flicker page so you can see both a note revealed by a mouse over, and some of the accompanying text.

I particularly like the embedded html tags in the mouseover notes that lead to other pages. If you get stuck on embedding links in you notes, drop me an e-mail, or stick a comment on this page.

The image is well worth a browse on Flickr, clicking on the captured image above will take you to the relevant page on Flickr.

There is all sorts of information to be gleaned from Flickr. For example, I've bumped into Alan Levine's cogdog's blog before and thought, from the blog's header (shown here) that he was a ridgeback owner, but I discover from Flickr that his former dog was a labrador... A very slim labrador, and perhaps even one with some ridgeback blood? Its the ears and nose that do it for me in the shot above, elsewhere in Flickr I can see a labrador nose though. Perhaps cogdog will end up commenting here.

Hmmm, so what's happening to my dog recognition skills? Best post Sam the ridgeback here then, just to get a ridgeback in the frame, so to speak. This picture of Sam is held on Flickr, incidentally, and just pasted into this blog entry. This is Sam doing one of the things he does best, chilling on a sofa. Yes, I know dogs should live outside, and all the rest, but sometimes contingencies intervene. Other things Sam does well are eating, being independent while at the same time pack-dependent, and rough ridgeback play. All too little of that, he's big and while rough play is fun its hardly social if he does it with someone else, so being a responsible dog owner etc....

Back to Flickr then. We've seen that Flickr is a useful presentational aid, particularly with its notes feature. One can make presentations from Flickr slideshows, as we see in a blog post from Beth Kanter. Beth has a handy screencast in the same post that shows just how she went from powerpoint, to jpegs, to flicker slideshow, to embedded the show in her blog post. Sounds complex? Not really: I like her ending "I'm not a techie! I'm really not a techie! No I'm not!"

And finally, Beth has a post on finding Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr, with another good screencast.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Back again....

So I've been away from this blog for a while, the combined contingencies of speedyfeed dying for a while and putting me out of touch with the clcommunity, and the need to apply for research grants (gotta eat!).

Oh how fragile these things can be, yes I could have used many other mechanisms other than speedyfeed to see what's out there in CLC blogosphere, but do you know what? Like many people when it comes to their computing facilities, I'm plain doggone lazy.