Monday, 24 March 2008

Thing 8 - I heart RSS

RSS has a big heart
Originally uploaded by labnol
I've been banging on about RSS for a while now. It's like having a separate mail slot for your newspapers so they don't get mixed in with your mail. And there are so many uses for it!

For a start it is a brilliant way to collect and read professional reading - blog posts are much more consumable than long articles or chapters in a book. A fair chunk of my KM knowledge has been collected and read in my bloglines account from the list of blogs you see in my blogroll.

It's also a great way of harvesting news from particular sites - even passworded databases such as Factiva now have the facility to deliver RSS alerts to your reader.

These are examples of your RSS reader as a repository - an "in tray" so to speak, where material sits until you come and read it. But there is also an alternative type of reader - the "stream of news" reader. In my Google Sidebar I have a news ticker that provides the latest stories from SMH and yahoo news. These are constantly refreshing, and the story is not kept anywhere once it's replaced by fresh news. It's a great way to monitor ephemeral news - something that is of value as soon as you're alerted to it, but isn't something you're likely to go back to tomorrow. But it's still RSS.

So there's a bunch of personal uses for RSS. Next post - RSS takes on the enterprise world!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Thing 7 - Toys these days....

It's funny what you take for granted these days when it comes to technology. My husband is a bit of a gamer, although not what you would call a serious one. And yet, you should see the set up that comes with our X-box 360. This PC-sized box sits above our TV. It's connected to the internet, and other gamers, via wireless modem. My husband doesn't have to sit too close to the TV as the controller is wireless. Plus he has a headset that allows him to talk with the people he's playing with - usually directions such as "You go up, I'll go down - watch out for that guy!" etc.

This kind of technology has been around in one form or another for years now, but it still seems pretty damn impressive if you stop to think about it for a second. That x-box and modem is processing and transmitting multiple forms of data - graphics, AI moves for the enemies, the movements of the live players, plus the chat over the headphones. All pretty much in real time. Amazing. And that's all for the home consumer. It sure makes the average teleconference software look pretty clunky!

When you then of it, multiplayer games are essentially a form of recreational collaboration between a group working towards a goal (the "quest") in a controlled environment (the game). And of course as games such as World of Warcraft evolve, the scope of the environment just gets broader. It's not a big step from this sort of fantasy world to Second Life - a virtual world creating a digital face for people and companies. But I would argue, as a non-gamer, that it is still a big step for many to jump into that virtual world. Maybe I'll get there one day.

Monday, 10 March 2008

Thing 6 - Flickr is addictive.....

Flickr epitomises the spirit of internet "surfing" - start at Flickr Mapper with the location Sydney. Get sidetracked via one of the mapped images into cat tag groups....and find this! (Most definitely not taken in Sydney from the spanish title!) I think I spent an hour wandering through, plus I just thought of more tags to search for.

Unfortunately my computer didn't seem to like a lot of the mashup applications. I liked the idea of Associatr by Genista which creates tree associations of tags, but it didn't work for me :(

On to more practical considerations - mashups and business uses. A classic and highly practical one would be a photo of each office attached to a google map. Works for those of us who need landmarks! There is a handy facebook application that maps restaurants to locations - plus reviews from other Facebook users. Awesome! However, when it comes to my line of work I think the most useful element of flickr is the underlying concepts - folksonomies, social networks and creative commons copyright.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Thing 5 - Exploring Flickr

The future of libraries! Twice as many books in half the space (or less!). This photo by stodmyk is of the UBC Library book retrieval system in the States - it's all automated. Macquarie University Library, my former home, will look similar by 2010. It's a great space-saving solution (ALWAYS an issue for libraries - I should know!). But I will miss wandering through the shelves and browsing by DDC number. And boy do I hope theyhave all the bugs worked out in programing etc. Going offline would not be pretty....or you could ask for economics and get english lit!

Sourcing this photo
Gotta say I cheated. This was posted on Slaw, a law library blog I read. But I have been poking around flikr (could get lost in there for days!) The communities are very inspiring - cheaper than joining the local photography club! As a librarian I love how the folksonomy tagging system has still been given some structure via the recommended tags...we will not be defeated! Although I guess you can argue that they were still developed from the grassroots...hmmm.

Blogging the pic was incredibly easy - there's a little button above the picture in flickr saying "blog this". It was a matter of stepping through some set-up screens, and hey presto! I'm blogging through flickr. That said, I can't seem to add links or anything (maybe if I used the actual coding?) so I will have to edit it in blogger anyway....oh well!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Changing my blog template

Spent a couple of hours changing my blog template to MushBlue, which is what you see now. There are lots of templates out there, just google "blogger templates". You don't really need html/xml programming skills to get them, as most templates have detailed instructions on using them available. You may however need a good chunk of time and a lot of patience! Mine was a real fiddle because it was very popular, which meant I had to download all the graphics and host them myself on photobucket. Very tedious, but I managed it with a little trial and error and following the designer's instructions step by step. Anyway, it was worth it, it looks way cooler than the standard blogger templates.

Coming next: bookmarking buttons.....

Edit: Lots of gorgeous templates at