My 93 year old uncle inspired these posts on gmail’s new tabbed inbox. He didn’t want all the tabs; he just wanted the untabbed inbox. For him, like for many other people, the untabbed inbox fits their email needs, and gmail gives them information on how to set up that choice
Not that I’m paranoid (or maybe I am but I like to call it cautious skepticism) but I am always aware than any of the free web services that I use, or even ones I’ve paid for, could go belly up and my stuff on it (them) could vanish into a black hole. So when I read about speculation that my wonderful collection of bookmarks on del.icio.us could disappear, I feel my paranoia is justified.
Internet search marketers could lose some invaluable free tools from Yahoo such as their Site Explorer. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb was concerned what the deal meant for Build Your Own Search Service (BOSS), Yahoo’s search developer platform Search Monkey and social bookmarking service Delicious, which he described as “one of the last era’s most heartbreaking symbols of untapped potential in social media”.
Bing is exciting as an effective challenger to Google, but if that competition comes at the cost of cannibalising Yahoo’s innovative search work – then we won’t be so excited about Bing any more.
I also celebrate that I have a strategy to deal with this. What are the odds that two similar web services will disappear at the same time? Not good, I hope.
My web stuff paranoia has led me to set up another social bookmarking service called Diigo. So I have two active accounts on different social bookmarking services.
So does that mean I have to save everything I like twice? Well, sort of, but that’s because I’ve recently taken to using Evernote, a broader and more visual saving application. But back to strictly social bookmarking. I only save once.
How? you ask. In Diigo, under my account name, I go into “Tools” where I can “Import Bookmarks”, but more importantly, I can “Save Elsewhere”. I have added my del.icio.us account here, and every time I save to Diigo, I also save, without any extra work, to del.icio.us.
So I’m prepared! If Yahoo and Microsoft let del.icio.us die, I still have all my bookmarks in Diigo. (Same thing if something happened to Diigo.) And I have Evernote too!
I like to play on the web, and my biggest problem is my “I-can’t-catch-up” anxiety. There is always more to explore. And for free, either for the basic version or for a month. I can never try everything out. I can’t catch up. Ever.
If you teach or train, or just like to play on the web, you should check out her blog, and subscribe to it.Another of my current people to follow ’cause they give really neat toys – whoops, I mean URLs – away, is Steve Rubel – http://www.steverubel.com/ – Twice he mentioned Posterous. The first time, I tried it but left it orphaned. The second time, months, maybe years, later, I found my original account and started playing, even sort-of lifestreaming, copying him. Great fun.
His constant exploration and evolution is inspiring. Check him out, and subscribe to him in Posterous, and maybe to me too;-> As they say on tv, “Time well wasted!”
I’m attending the PBWorks Camp for teachers, and this is my homework for my second week, a screencast made using Jing on how Styles in MS Word can help in writing long pieces such as academic papers or business reports: 2009-07-02_1211
I re-did this a number of times, dealing with –
fitting what I wanted to say to the time available
figuring out what to leave out
making sure my set-up worked
reducing the size of my Word screen so I could fit everything into a smaller frame
stumbling while I was recording
I really like learning from screen captures myself, so I enjoyed creating one
Social bookmarking is one of the most useful aspects of the web. You can use it to create your own online library, organized to your own interests by using tags. Although I’ve been using some form of social bookmarking for years, every so often I want to review what I can do with the social bookmarking tools I use.
One of the useful aspects of webapps is that many give you notice when an upgrade is available, and then, when you install it, open a page explaining all the changes. Diigo has recently upgraded and among the items available in the upgrade page were these very informative videos:
I use two social bookmarking apps because I’m wary of any web app closing down, and having two makes it more likely that I’ll still have access to most of my saved bookmarks if one closes. But who wants to do that extra work you ask? It’s no extra work, because I can save to Diigo and have my new bookmark automatically added to my del.icio.us account.
The final step I’ve taken is to add a del.icio.us widget to my blog so readers can see what I’ve been saving.
If you don’t already use social bookmarking, you might want to give it a try.
Seems like a contradiction in terms, but autodidacts are social; we have to be. When I learn from the web, I access websites, support people, books, friends, and the wonderfully generous denizens of the web. I’ve spent much time over the last couple of weeks trying to get on top of creating the website I want, one that looks competent and meaningful. (I believe, as I repeatedly say, that we start reading before we decode a single word. We get an impression of the page or screen and our attitude hinders or helps us understand what is in front of us. So I want a site that appears knowledgeable.) To create the site I want I have,
searched for information on Google, using different queries;
complained on Twitter (and elicited help);
phoned a generous web-friend and accepted his help;
bought and read parts of books;
downloaded and read parts of pdfs;
talked to knowledgeable friends;
tried out all kinds of WSIWYG solutions, both offered by friends and found through Google;
finally circled around to deciding on either (decisions are hard for me ;-> ) KompoZer or WordPress.org both of which I’ve been learning piecemeal over a number of years;
settled in to create the site I want on my domain;
read up on FTP through Google and on my domain host’s Support pages;
sorted out, with phone help from my domain host’s Support, NetFirms, how to use FileZilla;
re-installed the use of WordPress, which I had deleted in a fit of frustration and pique, with the help of NetFirm’s phone Support;
choose a free wp template, Titan, (brother of the theme I’m using in this, my wp.com blog) and decided I would need their Support, and to pay for it because they have to make a living;
Spent all day trying to follow a tutorial on how to access Titan’s CSS, gave up and added my problem to the Jestro Pro forum and went to supper. (I had done similar CSS work with help from Dave Ferguson on my wp.com blog so I knew it was possible.);
Got back from supper to find the answer already on the Jestro Support Forum (and an explanation that the tutorial could have been clearer);
made some changes I feel good about, but also discovered that my learning will be continuing! ;->
All of those were interactions with people or the communications created and left by people. Even autodidacts are, by necessity, social learners.
I will be accepting the help of other generous people, directly and indirectly, but there are two more important observations I want to make:
As a teacher, I understand why students get cranky and worse when they are frustrated because they are just not “getting” something they want to learn. It makes me (and I suspect them) feel unintelligent and inadequate, and I, (and I’m sure them) get upset with myself and anyone else I can blame. It must be even more so for those who learn differently than our schools teach. That is why I am revealing my own struggles; learning is only easy when you are, by your own nature, good at learning in certain areas. We ought to be compassionate for our own and others’ struggles to learn in the areas where we don’t have the natural velcro for.
It is hard to ask for help, even help you have paid for, but you must in order to keep on keeping on (as Gladys Knight advised)! I don’t know if it’s a societally developed fear of loss of face or an inherent fear of showing weakness, but I find it difficult to ask for help. I think others do too.
So that’s my current learning struggle, which I will continue on with, after I get some work that I’m good at 🙂 done.
An autodidact is someone who learns outside of regular school settings, someone who teaches herself (or himself). It used to be a kind of demeaning label, meaning someone who had spotty and uncertified knowledge. I claim the label “autodidact” as a badge of honour! I used to learn from books, even sometimes from tv, but now we have the web. I love the web. I learn so much from what I find on it.
Recently I gave myself a task that requires me to learn more about how to create web pages. I’d heard about CSS and knew, theoretically, what it could do. But every time I tried to do anything using it I hit THE GAP. THE GAP is the point where I get stuck and can’t go any further, even though I can see what I could do two steps along the learning path I’m on. When I hit THE GAP, I’m stuck. What I do then, is ask a knowledgable friend, if I can find one, or, more often, find a workaround. For a while, my workaround was wikis. I love wikis but they’re meant for sharing, not for using as your personal website, although they can work, sort of, as one.
Sometimes I find something a lot of the design work has been done for me, and I use that. Blogger had templates, and so does WordPress, which I graduated to.
But my design vision just isn’t satisfied.
I used tools like the old Netscape Composer and currently its grandchild, Nvu, both of which are WYSIWYG web page creators.
But my reach exceeds my grasp because I want something I have more control over. I want to produce the kind of website that says to readers “this person has powerful content: you can tell by the appearance!” (I’ve read the research on how people are reading before they decode a single word. The appearance of the text and page gives information that signals information to readers which profoundly affects how they take in the content.)
I’ve learned a little HTML code, and I’ve bookmarked sites where I can find more. But I’ve never taken a course in it, and a lot of it just looked bizarre and unreadable to me. (I was a text person initially, and not technically inclined, but I want to communicate on the web so I have to learn how to do so wholistically.) And using “View Source” and copy/paste seemed to me like a kind of plaigarism and theft. (What can I say? I’m old-school.)
Sometimes I think I learn backwards. I know my desired destination but I keep getting blocked at THE GAP. But I continue to struggle to build a little further out into the unknown territory, and I learn something from each struggle. Each struggle closes THE GAP a little more. I read manuals and follow instructions but I think most people who are inside the knowledge bubble have trouble being aware of what those outside the bubble might not know. The instructions are crisp and clear until they mention going to the “terminal shell” or some other ‘obvious’ term. Huh? Wikipedia tells me what it is, but I don’t get how to use it in this set of instructions. (I’m not the knowledgable audience they were writing for.) So I stop and try some other path. Till I get frustrated with it, because I’ve foundTHE GAP in it. I’m really good at findingTHE GAP. So when I find someone, often on the web, who explains things in a way I can understand, someone who gives me the practical aspects of the concept, I am delighted, excited and grateful.
That happened to me today. I found Chris Coyier’s video on HTML & CSS – The VERY Basics. 32 minutes of pure pleasure. He shrank –the gap – till it virtually (no pun etc.) disappeared for me.
He has a gift for teaching and I’m a grateful student.