Why I Use More than One Social Bookmarking Service

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!

Querulous Question #1

All the brouhaha about financial game playing and our perilous financial system has brought a question to my mind:  why do we talk about wages with percentages?

%

If someone, A, making $20,000. gets a 5% raise, that’s $1000.00 dollars and they now make

$21,000.


If someone, B, making $200,000. gets the same percentage, 5%, they get $10,000, and now make

$210,000.


Both get 5%, which sounds equal, but, in fact, A got 10% of what B got, and B got %1000 of what A received, or half of A’s salary.

In plain language,

B received $9000. more than A.


So a year later they each get a 5% raise again.

A started at $21,000. this time and got $1050. which gave A a total of

$22,050.


B started at $210,000. this time and got $10,500. which gave B

$220,500.


This time

B received $9,450. more than A,

that is, at the same percentage rate,

the actual difference in money increases by $450.

and each time they get another 5% raise, the difference will increase.

The rich get richer, faster.

Here’s my refined Querulous Question #1:

Why do we use percentages to talk about wage increases when that only increases the disparity every time? B gets increasingly more than A, so the difference between their wages keeps increasing. Why don’t we just say what the actual numbers are?

I’d really like to know if it’s just habit and convenience or if there’s an actual, communication-based reason for this.

MagNet Presentation on Researching Using the Web


I’ve noticed that when I speak, I have my deepest focus on what I’m saying and trying to communicate, but that I pay substantial subsidiary attention to the audience’s reaction. If they don’t respond, it doesn’t matter how good my material is and my intentions are, I feel like I’m tanking. So, yesterday, when I presented, I automatically checked the audience’s reaction.

Before I fill you in on what happened, let me describe the set up. There was a big screen at the front of the third of the ballroom we had, in the middle. I project well, but I couldn’t be heard without a microphone. I was using a PowerPoint (because I suspected the wifi would fail. It did.) so I was tied to my laptop, especially since the remote that worked before and after the session didn’t work IN the session. My laptop was on a podium, on a platform on the audiences’ right at the front of the room.

Let me clarify, My podium was in line with the edge of the audience seats on one side, the screen was in the middle of this wide room, and the audience stretched out in a slight curving layout beyond the screen. There were only a few rows, but it stretched 20 feet, maybe more, across. My over 3 feet high platform had my podium on it and a six foot table, with at least another six feet across the floor to the screen, and, as I said, the audience ranged beyond that. It was the most bizarre set up for a speaker I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve been in some clumsy ones.

Then there was the beginning as the IT guy tried to make the wifi worked. I tried to speak while I was re-starting (wifi still didn’t work) and re-setting up myPowerPont program. Not smooth. Finally I started, only to be interrupted by audience members and coached on how to position my head so the mic would work. I kept on going, only somewhat daunted.

During my talks, I usually throw out little bits of humour to get a sense of the audience. I did this to the MagNet audience a few times, and nobody laughed. Whoops. I kept going, but noticed subliminally that I was feeling disconcerted. Looked out at the audience and noted that a substantial number were highly focussed on taking notes. Decided that must be a good sign, and, anyhow, the show had to go on.

I got several positive comments after I finished, but I won’t know until I get the formal feedback, what most of the audience thought.

When I present, I love having a slideshow to help me stay on point and keep me going when I talk! It’s a great security blanket when I don’t feel much resonance from the audience, and so it was yesterday. My PowerPoint was there when the wifi wasn’t, and when I felt worried about whether the audience was with me.

I have some observations, I hate under-designed, almost anti-speaker designed venues BUT I can survive them.

Finally, in lieu of handouts, I put my presentation up on SlideShare. This morning I received an email from them telling me it would be up in their News & Politics feature page for 16 to 20 hours, (News & Politics?!?) so that’s an audience reaction I can enjoy ;->

Beyond Google featured on SlideShare
"Beyond Google" featured on SlideShare

Newspapers and Web Design

We are living in confusing times because we are living through the biggest change in human communications since the printing press, maybe the biggest change ever. You can see this in the small changes that happen as we leave an old technology for a new. It is clear that newspapers and magazines, even tv, are challenged by the web. (Some tv shows are becoming almost loss leaders for the web. At the end of every news show, watchers are invited to see more information, visuals, and details on the show’s website.)

Today, in Stephen Downes newsletter, OLDaily, he references the newly designed website of the NY Times.

New York Times new web design
New York Times new web design

The table of contents on the left is clear and easy to read, and each of the story teasers links directly to the story.

Most other papers have sites that aren’t nearly as easy for users to sort through and read. They are still using layout similar to the paper layout. The New York Times have produced a game-changing news site design; it is no longer a website emulating the newsPAPER. It is a news website that will appeal to readers who aren’t going to the newspaper website as an adjunct to the paper. It is a news site design that those who haven’t grown up reading newspapers will gravitate toward. I think it is one of the small changes that lets go of the legacy format, and truly adapts to the new medium. I wonder what McLuhan would say!

Now the next question is how they will monitize it.

Check out this link too – http://www.megantaylor.org/wordpress/2009/02/18/first-look-at-a-new-news-interface/

Personalizing Web Access

Sometimes a bunch of experiences mash together and inspiration results. A couple of day ago I received a comment on one of my posts – #2 by Virginia Yonkers where she said “Try working on another’s computer! Just as we have idiosyncrasies in the speech, how we do math, writing (think of handwriting), we develop different patterns for tools and how we use them. If we can see how to modify a tool or how it is used to achieve our goals, we are more motivated to ask for help, persist through problems”. That has been my experience in my own learning.

Later in the day I was working with some people who were not that efficient at using the web and wanted to show them what I regard as an essential web tool, del.icio.us, the social bookmarking application. I reached out to the laptop, not my own, to try to open up my del.icio.us account so I could show them why it was so useful. Two problems:

  1. Although this was the same model as my laptop, the owner doesn’t use a mouse, and I do. I have to think to use the trackpad and that slows me down and klutzes me up;
  2. The owner’s desktop looks different and so do the applications because she has them set larger than I do mine, also disorientating.

Both of these reminded me of Virginia’s comment, and an often overlooked factor in encouraging people to expand their web efficiency. I think knowing how to set up and manipulate our tools is essential to any skilled artisan, knowledge workers included. Which computer we use is important, but knowing how to set up our PLE (Personal Learning Environment) or, the term I prefer, our PLWE (Personal Learning and Working Environment) is foundational. To work efficiently and effectively, you need to streamline your access to the different software and applications you are going to use. You need to fit your tool to your use.

Because I have a laptop, I can travel with it and use it for presentations. Because I am on it for several hours almost every day, and because I am impatient, I have researched and developed my own idiosyncratic setup.

Working SetUp

So let me explain, starting at the top left:

  1. I use Apple and Firefox because experts I know talked about how easy and handy they were, and that has been my experience too; I like them.
  2. I have my applications dock on the left side where I am less likely to “bump” into it. What can I say; it works for me.
  3. Most importantly, I have a personal toolbar, right under the address bar, where I keep all the links I regularly use. I use the Bookmarks feature to put these in the order I want them in, and to shorten their names so I can squeeze more on. I add other links I frequently use too, but allow these to be beyond the “>>” at the right end of my personal toolbar. When I click on the “>>” a long list of these medium important links appears and I can choose from them.
  4. Most of my “Saved for possible future use” bookmarks, I don’t put in the Bookmarks feature of my browser (Firefox) because they are then tied to my computer, and when I get a new one (yum!) or have a crash (the pain! the pain!) or use another computer (awk-ward!), I don’t have access to them. Instead I use an online application for social bookmarking, usually del.icio.us, (although I’m also checking out diigo). I can access my del.icio.us (or diigo) accounts from any online computer, provided I can remember my user name and password. (Not always that easy ;->) So I always have access to the links I’ve saved. Saving to del.icio.us is easy using the (circled) icons (which I dragged onto my address bar from the del.icio.us site) to the left of the URL field. The checkerboard, when clicked, opens my del.icio.us account so I can find previously saved links.  The  tag icon that says “TAG” on it, when click opens a small field in front of the site I’m saving, and allows me to add tags so I can easily re-find the site when I want it.
  5. I have a Google toolbar even though it takes up screen space on my small laptop screen because it has an icon, circled, that allows me to open a new tab with one click. I like having lots of tabs open so I can switch from site to site with ease, which brings me to my final PLWE essential >
  6. When I took the screenshot above, I had seven (count ’em!) tabs open in Firefox. Often I have more because it makes my work easier. When I finish this draft, I will add links, and what I usually do is open the site I want to link to in another tab, copy the link address, return to my draft and add the link. Multiple tabs – I love ’em!

So there you have it, some of my secrets for making my work efficient and easy to manage, for setting up my PLWE, my “tool”. All learned, I’ll add, over years of chatting with others and reading about what the possibilities are in this ever changing web world.

Social Maps: How the Digital People Keep Connected

This video by Loic Lemeur is intimidating, inspiring and irritating.

  • Intimidating because he has such wide ranging use of the social media;
  • Inspiring because I get some idea what I want to spend more time with; and
  • Irritating because it pauses every few seconds and you have to wait for it to go on.

found through my Bloglines – http://www.cybersoc.com/2008/04/pulling-your-so.html h/t Robin Hamman

Learning Wikispaces With Readability

People decide about what to read, on paper or on the web, before they de-code a single word. If the page looks dense and/or difficult, readers, unless they are highly motivated, will just move on. When people learn to write or to create a web page, they should, IMHO, learn about readability as the same time as they learn how to use the application. I’ve tried to combine information about the Wikispaces icons and readability in this document, aimed at the new user, especially if they are not too familiar with web layout and usability.

wikispacesicons

BTW, if you read this blog regularly, you will have noticed that the links I bookmark are now being added as a post on a daily basis. I have found many interesting and helpful links on the blogs of others who also do this, so I figured out how to for mine. Hope some of them are helpful or interesting for you.

Want a Website? Try a Wiki!

It seems to me that for teachers and entrepreneurs, one of the most useful, and the easiest, web2.0 applications is the wiki. Many people who are new to web2.0 aren’t sure what a wiki is. It is an interactive website that can be edited without using HTML, just by using a set of icons, much like you would find in Word or other word-processors.

I have set up a wiki explaining what a wiki is, and why they are so useful: http://wikiwhy.wikispaces.com/ I will be adding more to it over the next few weeks.

For more specific information on what kind of wikis, that is, what brand of wiki application you might want to try out, here’s a slide show I have posted on SlideShare.