Thing 15 – Awareness Tools

June 18th, 2012

10 The Computer Age (In Motion)

Had Enough?

exploding head

CC License, Click to view

No doubt, the Internet and the Web are becoming indispensable, helpful, useful, and interesting. Every day in this class we’ve been looking into different tools, concepts, or ‘things.’ A few people have written in blogs that they don’t need some tools, for example  social bookmarking sites and online communities. I think they are saying, what all of us feel at one time or another: “Enough is enough” or “Enough already” or “You’re making my head explode with all these new things.”

Can we afford to take that attitude? My opinion is that we cannot. The world will change with or without us,and  the degree to which we can participate in  and take advantage of our culture, community, and economy will be measured by how savvy we are of contemporary technology.

So we need to move on, acquire new skills and tools. Part of the problem in doing that, though, is that the rate of change is increasing. Many agree that it has reached the stage where if we cannot rely on being able to know one technology or tool well.  Enhancements are always being developed so that the tool we are very comfortable with is replaced with another that is widely adopted and the new one has greater capabilities and is easier to use. As a simple example, if we can use only one email program then we limit ourselves to the types of communication in which we  can engage as newer email and other communication technologies are developed.

The skill to have  is not knowing or using a specific technology, but  the skill to have is to be able to learn or adapt  to changing technologies.

That’s the motivation behind a discussion of  these so-called awareness tools.  Much of what follows is taken from “Awareness Tools,” published in the IPL Wiki.

About Awareness Tools

Awareness tools provide you with a number of ways of finding useful, thought-provoking, humorous, or interesting content you may not normally find. Before the Internet came along, people mostly got their news from a handful of sources – newspapers, radio, television, friends and family, etc. But awareness tools allow you to find a wide variety of content on a scale like never before; you can still find traditional news articles from major newspapers, but now you can also find global news articles, local news articles, web-based games, movie reviews, blog posts, photos or photo collections, cartoons, and the list goes on and on. In fact, perhaps the biggest appeal of these types of tools is that they allow you to find and filter information from virtually anywhere on the web.

There are two major types of awareness tools: automated awareness tools like Google News or Technorati automatically grab content from other places on the web. Social awareness tools like Digg and reddit rely on users to provide links to content they find interesting. Oddly enough, two of the oldest and most popular social awareness tools did not actually start out that way. The first, Slashdot, was launched in 1997 by Rob Malda with the tagline “News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters.” and was simply a collection of traditional news stories that focused on technology. The second, Fark, launched in 1999 by Drew Curtis as a tool to help him share interesting news stories with his friends without having to send any e-mails. Both sites were wildly popular, getting over 1 million hits within a year of launching, and both soon added social features like user accounts, commenting, forums, and story suggestions.

Today, there are a number of awareness tools that offer a variety of ways to find new and interesting content:



  • Google News
  • Technorati
  • Original Signal
  • PopURLs– lists results from many different sites,categories, and can be customized.
  • AllTop – collect the headlines of the latest stories from the best sites and blogs that cover a top and then aggregate them.
  • Techmeme – “Techmeme arranges all of these links into a single, easy-to-scan page. Story selection is accomplished via computer algorithm extended with direct human editorial input.”
  • The WebList – is a snapshot of what people are clicking on around the internet right now. A single page with the latest news and stories from some of the Internet’s most popular websites.

How do Awareness Tools work?

Technologically speaking, awareness tools are actually quite similar to the book recommendation systems discussed in IPL Thing #13. The main difference is that awareness tools have two main functions: gathering content and filtering content. Automated awareness tools may rely on human editors to select which sources to pull content from, but the content itself is usually collected automatically based on source, topicality, currency, or popularity (e.g., Google News,Techmeme. Social awareness tools typically rely on users to submit URLs of interesting content; this is why many websites (especially blogs) provide links to Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon to allow users to quickly recommend content to their preferred service.

Once the content is gathered, all awareness tools generally use some type of complex programming algorithm to filter relevant or interesting information to the top. Since automated awareness tools usually pull content directly from the web, filtering is usually based on currency and popularity. By contrast, social awareness tools tend to rely on user feedback to determine what’s relevant and interesting. Often, these sites ask users to vote for any item they find interesting (a simple yes/no decision) and those judgments are then aggregated across the entire site. However, a number of other factors are also considered when trying to determine which content should get posted to the homepage: domain of URL, who submitted the URL, who voted for the URL, when the URL was submitted, number of comments about the URL, etc. [3].

Hands on Activities

Activity 1. Set up  some Google Alerts. Got to Set up an alert for UMW and one for University of Mary Washington. Experiment with the type of results – as email or a feed, once a day, as it happens… and so on.

Activity 2. Set up a Google alert for something you’d like to track, for example, a sports team, a venue, a musical group, genre of music, anything else.

Activity 3. First, sign up for an account on DiggReddit,  or another social awareness tool (if you don’t have one already).

Next, browse the ipl2 website for a page that you think people might find interesting. Some good examples are the POTUS special collection, the Stately Knowledge special collection, or theNewspapers & Magazines collection. Once you’ve found a page you’d like to share, copy the URL from your browser’s address bar.

Finally, visit your preferred awareness tool website. This activity will describe the procedure for submitting a link to Digg (the procedures are similar for each site, though). First click the “Submit New” link in the upper-right corner of the website. Paste the URL of the site you want to share in the first box and then click the appropriate box for the type of media it is (it’s probably a news article). Click submit and Digg will search its databases to see if the link you’re submitting has already been submitted (for quality control). After a few seconds, you’ll see a page where you can edit the title and description of the page you’re submitting (pulled directly from the page’s metadata field), add a thumbnail image, select an appropriate topic heading, and see a preview of what your submitted entry will look like. Once you’re satisfied with how your entry looks, click “Submit Story” and your story will automatically be added to the website.

Don’t get discouraged if your stories don’t make it to the front page right away! Because these sites rely on complex algorithms to find and filter interesting content, your stories likely won’t start getting popular until you become a much more active member on the website. We’ll cover two ways to do that in the following activities.

Activity 4. Now that you’ve submitted a story to your favorite awareness tool website, now it’s time to start exploring the site and becoming a more active member. The easiest way to do this is to start “voting” for stories you find interesting. Visit the homepage of your preferred awareness tool website (e.g., Digg) and browse through the items listed on the homepage. If you like any of them, click the “digg” button on the story to cast your vote; if you really don’t like an item, you can click the “bury” button (on Reddit, the equivalent votes are the “Up” arrow and the “Down” arrow).

In addition to the homepage, you can also browse for articles by topic or search for articles with specific keywords. One important thing to remember with these sites is that the more votes you cast, the more likely it is that you’ll be pointed to stories that you find interesting.

Activity 5. Once you’ve voted on a story that you liked (or disliked), you can start contributing to the discussion about that story (you can actually comment on any story, but it’s probably a good idea to start off with just the stories you voted for). Most of these sites work like forums or blog comments, so just jump into the conversation wherever and whenever you feel comfortable, just try to keep your comments short, polite, and on-topic (at least at first). You’ll also notice that you can sometimes vote “up” or “down” on individual user comments if you like or dislike what a person said.

While you technically don’t have to add stories, vote on stories, comment on stories, or vote on comments to stories if you don’t want to, your votes and submissions will gain more influence over time as you contribute more to the site and you’ll also get more precise and relevant story recommendations based on your interests.


Thing 14 – Forums and Webboards

June 15th, 2012

Class assignment for Thing 13 – RSS

First a little background

Usenet – established in 1979 and 1980 as a way to exchange messages, grouped by categories, between Duke and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Early form of forums that gained world-wide acceptance and usage.  Take a look at the Wikipedia entry  “Usenet.”

A graphical interpretation of the "Big Nine" hierarchies on Usenet.

A graphical interpretation of the "Big Nine" hierarchies on Usenet.

UseNet offered a decentralized alternative to the limited connectivity of BBS. There are nine major newsgroups that are still largely available today through the use of newsreader programs, such as Google Groups (which allows search and posting all the way back to 1981).

In 1993, The New Yorker published a famous cartoon by Peter Steiner.

A video explanation of Usenet: What is Usenet?

About Forums and Web boards

Forums and Web discussion boards are specialized Internet applications that have grown as offshoots from the earliest forms of multi-user Internet communication. The earliest and simplest forms of these applications were UseNet, and its predecessor Bulletin Board Systems (BBS).

Early electronic Bulletin Board Systems allowed users to exchange messages, share files, and read articles via a direct modem connection to the operating computer. As such, the speed of the systems was very slow, and access depended largely on the administrator of the main system (typically a single person operating it out of personal interest) or geographical distance. Today’s internet forums still offer streamlined forms of all of these features.

A notable BBS that is still actively hosted is the ISCABBS by the University of Iowa.

Modern forums use a variety of different technologies, and allow electronic instant messaging, electronic mail, file-sharing, and interactive discussion threads which can incorporate numerous multimedia formats. The term “thread” refers to how forums split up topics from conversation to conversation. Threads are typically organized into groups by topic. Modern blogs also employ some of these forum features as well, such as the ability to post articles outside of the main thread, and the ability for readers to comment on posts.

Forums or “discussion boards” are commonly used by instructors in online classes at colleges and universities. Instructors post threads to start class discussion activities, and respond to answer questions posted by students. These discussion boards are typically within course management software such as BlackboardFirstClass,eCollegeMoodle, and Sakai. Some academic libraries have started outreach to online students through class discussion boards, such as Northern Kentucky University’s “Blackboard Librarian” program. Forums have also increasingly been integrated into other types of software; for example, Facebook now includes discussion boards as an option (see discussions on IPL’s Facebook), and there are discussion board features integrated into Wet Paintwikis, Drupal content management, Ningsocial networks, and many other systems. Forums are often used to build “online communities” among users who share a common interest or activity, including “learning communities” for online classes. The Chronicle of Higher Education offers forums for the academic community, including a forum for academic libraries. Among young people, the Gaia Online forums are a popular site with millions of users.

Some Example Forums:

How do Forums and Web boards work?

Creating and hosting a forum requires a fairly high degree of technical knowledge. However, there are many forum platforms available on the Web which allow you to host a small forum through the confines of the larger provider’s system. These systems vary by customizable options, included features, and cost. There are many free forum hosting services available online, including these popular choices:

To compare forum software by criteria including programming language compatibility, cosmetic features, or system requirements, use:

To find forums that focus on certain topics or interest areas, use:

Examples of forum software that would require expertise to set up and host includes:

Hands on Activity

1.  Got to and do a search for Google Groups (not all groups) for discussions about  rail travel in Canada. Report on what you find. Now do a search in all groups on the same topics. Note any intersting Web boards or forums you find and might want o return to in the future.

2. Go to and search the discussion boards for information about good places to eat or sources of good food in the Fredericksburg area.

3. Pay a visit to Thorn tree  travel Forum at the LonelyPLanet Web site. Where would you like to travel? See what you can find out about travelling there at Thorntree. Can’t make up your mind?  See about travel in Burundi.

4. Locate and join an online community discussion forum, where you can read discussion threads and post your own responses. Some example forums that you can join include forums at The Chronicle of Higher Education, discussions for colleges and universities at Talk Confidential, a wide variety of discussions by topic such as health, food, and entertainment at iVillage, or search to find a forum of your own interest using BoardReaderForum Finderor Open Directory forum listings.

5. Create your own free forum on a hosting site such as Boardster Forumotion or Voy. After clicking to Boardster, Forumotion or Voy, look for and click on the button that says “Create a Free Forum” or “Create Forum.” You’ll be asked to fill out information about yourself and your forum, and to choose your forum’s visual appearance and style. Experiment with starting a thread, and posting a message in response to your thread, to see how discussion board communication works.

For fun? Its All About the Pentiums by Weird Al

Pictures used in this post:

Thing 13 – RSS

June 13th, 2012

What is RSS?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” It’s an XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based format for distributing and aggregating Web content. RSS is a way to get content of your choice, such as news headlines, without having to constantly visit a site to see what’s new.  RSS feeds contain headlines and hyperlinks to longer articles or Web pages.

RSS Icon

RSS Icon, Click for attributuon CC

Even if you’ve never heard of RSS, we’re sure you’ve seen those small, orange icons (like the one pictured here) on Web sites. These icons, when clicked on, will take you to the RSS feed.

What are some advantages of RSS?

RSS is like Tivo for your computer!

  • Your feeds are in one place and there are no ads or pop-ups.
  • You can scan the list of headlines to see what you want to read without wasting a lot of time.
  • Better than using bookmarks because your personal feeds are available from any computer that has Internet access.
  • Content from RSS feeds can be inserted into Web pages.

Learn more about it

You Must Have an RSS Reader in Order to Receive Newsfeeds

In order to receive RSS feeds, you’ll need to set up a news reader. RSS news readers are online applications that use RSS to allow you to receive the information you want.
Some popular news readers are:

Take a look at the Google Reader in Plain English video

Hands on Activities (part 1)

1. Set up a news reader using Google Reader. Because you already have a Google account, you can start using Google Reader right away. You will see a link to Reader at the top left of the page when you are signed in to your Gmail account. If you are not signed in to Google, go ahead and sign in at

2. Add a Google bundle of RSS feeds to your reader.

  • From the Google Reader home page, click on Browse for stuff. You should now be on a page entitled Discover and search for feeds.
  • Google Reader allows you to select feeds that are bundled together on specific topics. For example, let’s say you’d like to receive a bundle of resources on the topic of Web 2.0. Simply click on “View all” next to the heading “Bundles from Google.”
  • Scroll down until you see the bundle entitled “Web-2.0.” Now click on “Subscribe.”
  • Now look at the lower left corner of your reader. You’ll see the feeds automatically listed there.
  • In order to read the feeds, you simply click on the title of the feed and you’ll be able to read the latest postings from that resource.

Adding RSS Feeds to Individual Sites

Keep an eye out for the orange icon or a link to RSS when reading Web sites.  You may have found a particularly good Web site and you want to receive updates to it whenever something new is published. Simply click on the RSS icon or link and you’ll be instructed how to add it to your reader. Sometimes sites will make it easy for you by asking you which reader you want your feed to be sent to.

RSS icon collection

RSS icon collection, CC License. Click for Attribution

Other times you’ll need to copy and paste the URL that appears into your Google Reader (Add a subscription section) account, which we’ll explain below.  Earlier we discussed searching for blogs.  Most blogs are available via RSS. Most blogs make their RSS icon or link fairly visible on the top or the bottom of the first page.

Some Good Places to Find Useful RSS Feeds

There are a few sites that list RSS feeds so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for them:

  • New York Times RSS Feeds The New York Times has dozens of RSS feeds on different sections of the newspaper. For example, you want to receive all the articles on topics related to the Internet, you could choose the Technology category and then click on Internet. Some of the feeds here make it easy for you to choose Google Reader, and others require you to copy and paste the URL into your Google Reader account.
  • U.S. Government RSS Library
    This site has hundreds of RSS feeds categorized by topic, all produced by the U.S. government. Let’s say you’re interested in new resources on HIV/AIDS prevention from the Centers for Disease Control. Simply go to the Health RSS Feeds category and click on the HIV/AIDS Prevention link. This will open a page filled with XML code. What you’ll need to do is copy (Ctrl-C) the hyperlink (in this case, the URL is in the address bar and paste (Ctrl-V) it into the form entitled “Add a Subscription” in Google Reader.
  • Yahoo! Directory RSS Feeds
    You can receive updates to the Yahoo! Directory by subject. You simply click on the RSS icon next to the subject you want and then copy and paste the URL that appears in the address bar to your Google Reader account.

Hands on Activities (part 2)

Activity 1. Bloglines

Create an account. It’s free, and it takes about 15 seconds. You’ll need to confirm your registration, so watch your email. Once you confirm your email, you’ll be brought to a Subscribe page. This is a selection of Bloglines Quick Picks (arranged by subject), and the top fifty or so most popular Bloglines subscription feeds. Take some time here to see what you might be interested in.

That’s it! Once you’ve clicked the Subscribe button, you’ll be whisked away to your own personal Bloglines reader.

Add RSS feeds to some of the blogs in this class, a news source in the US and another country, and a blog in an area related to your academic studies.

Activity 2. Add one or more RSS feeds to your blog

Go to your blog, and click on Admin, and log in.

Click on Appearance on the left in the dashboard, then click on Widgets.

Now look for a widget that will let you add an RSS feed. Add any RSS feed that you have selected or the RSS feed for the blog Ackermann uses for the course.

Hands on Activities (part 3)

Activity 1. Net Vibes

Go to Netvibes, Register for an account.

Using the predefined widgets, add some items to the Netvibes page.

Activity 2. Adding RSS Feeds.

Start a new tab in Netvibes with a title related to your major or your research topic.

On that new tab, add at least five RSS feeds to blogs, news sources, or journals related to the tab title.

3. Add the URL of your Netvibes page and the titles of the items you added on the new tab to the GoogleDoc “Class Assignment June 2012”. You will get an invitation to be an editor of that page.

Thing 12 – Sharing Documents in the Cloud

June 11th, 2012


About Information/Document Sharing

Effective collaboration and document sharing is one of the originating reasons behind the development of the network technologies that eventually led to the internet as we know it today. In the 1970’s, ARPANET connected several universities, allowing researchers and scientists to actively share information resources over great distances. The first and most important method birthed by these networks was the protocols allowing electronic mail.

These fundamental tasks that drove the early development and innovation of the larger internet itself have been streamlined and focused by years of technological advance. Large scale information sharing and editing capabilities are available to anyone with internet access, and for no extra cost in many cases.

The latest innovative approaches to fulfilling these information sharing needs include concepts like cloud computing and peer-to-peer file sharing. Cloud computing refers to the use of online applications which allow dynamic storage, use of, and editing of media without any need for the user to host, maintain, or store it themselves locally.

Peer-to-peer file-sharing allows large networks of users to share information autonomously as if they were hosted in a traditional server-client environment. Peer-to-peer filesharing and it’s offspring Bit torrent sharing are controversial due to the widespread use of these methods in information piracy.

Sharing documents and working on them collaboratively is a growing trend.

How does it Work?

Information/Document Sharing works in a variety of

ways, depending on the types of information you wish to share and the manner in which you want to share it. Below, we’ve provided examples of the different types of information/document sharing available on the web.

Online Document Collaboration

Google Documents (originally Writely): Google Docs mirrors many of the functions of traditional desktop applications like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint and combines them with the flexibility, sharing power, and portability of Gmail. To find out more about how Google Docs works, check out this informative video.

Zoho : Zoho is suite of powerful online office applications. In addition to offering traditional office applications like Zoho Writer (documents), Zoho Sheet (spreadsheets), Zoho Show (presentations), Zoho also provides tools for note taking, project management, online databases, and customizable wikis.

Online Document Sharing

Scribd : Scribd is a social publishing application, which allows you to publish your own documents to the web and search the submissions of others.

DocStoc : DocStoc, like Scribd, is an online social publishing application. DocStoc features include a large supply of document templates, and the ability to transfer large files free of charge.

edocr : Yet another document storage solution, edocr boasts excellent web2.0 compatibility, Google indexing, and contextual archiving.

Slideshare : As its name implies, Slideshare allows you to share your presentations with anyone in the world. With Slideshare you can add audio to your slides, embed your slideshows on your own personal blog or website, and join groups of other Slideshare members with similar interests.

OnStage : OnStage is a online application that provides document collaboration and project management tools. It features integration with other cloud computing tools like Scribd, and a healthy amount of security features.

Directory Sharing & Synchronizing

See”Best Online File Sharing Services”  at lifehacker

I have used:

Dropbox : Dropbox is a downloadable application which not only provides secure file backup, but also a simple way for synchronizing and sharing files across multiple computers. A free Dropbox account provides 2GB of space; additional storage requires a monthly fee.

Items to Read and View

Hands on Activity

Activity 1: Create & Share Your Work

First, visit ScribdDocStoc, or Slideshare – whichever you like best – and sign up for a free user account.

Then, upload a document that you have created (please don’t upload someone else’s work!). It can be a presentation you gave, a paper you wrote, a short story you’ve been working on – anything you want to share with the world. If you don’t have anything else handy, upload your most recent essay.

Once your work has been uploaded, you’ll see that your document has its own unique URL which you can give to anyone who you think might be interested in seeing what you’ve created. You can then go back and add your own custom tags to it, or you can explore the site to rate and/or comment on documents created by other people.

Activity 2: Collaborate with Friends or Colleagues

Visit Google Docs or Zoho and create a free account, if you don’t have one already. Note: You can also sign in to Zoho using your Google or Yahoo account.

Create a new document by either typing in some text, or importing/uploading a document you’ve already created (any format will work). Share your document with a friend, family member or colleague and ask them to edit or revise it for you. Don’t worry if you don’t agree with their suggestions – you can always revert your document back to a previous version, and you never have to worry about saving it.

Activity 3:  Create a survey using  Google Docs. Send it to some friends and track the responses.

Thing 10 – Video

June 6th, 2012

Continue with Kevin Kelly on the next 5,000 days of the web

About Videos on The Web

The creation of YouTube made it relatively easy to upload and view videos on the Web.  Uploading is accomplished through the familiar browse your files and select one to upload. The videos are converted to Flash format and so they can be streamed or played without having to first download the video. YouTube got its start in 2005, but it was not alone. “Video websites pop up, invite postings,” written in November 2005 by Jefferson Graham, contains “YouTube, Vimeo, Sharkle, ClipShack and all aim to be video versions of Flickr, the Yahoo-owned site that has drawn millions of people who post photographs, then discuss them.” Sharkel desn’t seem to be around anymore, but Vimeo (founded in 2004), (founded in 2005) and (founded in 2006) are. Some video sites focus on supporting particular types of videos, such as TeacherTube (founded in 2007) which hosts educational videos by the K-12 education community.

YouTube is the most popular, but it still has to turn a profit for its owners, Google, Inc. Google recently hired an executive from NetFlix  for that purpose according to an article published  May 31, 2011, by Dawn C. Chmielewski, in the  Los Angeles Times, “YouTube counting on former Netflix exec to help it turn a profit.” The article “72-hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute” (May 22, 2012) states “Despite its massive global popularity, the California-based internet search and advertising giant has not yet announced a profit for the video-sharing site.”

Most users are limited to uploading 10 minutes of video to YouTube, but the site also hosts longer videos. For example, Professor Mike Wesch’s talk at the Library of Congress about the history of YouTube and its impact on communication, “An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube” is on YouTube and goes on for almost 60 minutes.

Searching for Videos
Here are a few places to search fro videos. Remember that for now, the search is on the text that accompanies the video.

Google Video

The Google Video database contains millions of videos that exist on the Web. Using Google Video, you can search for TV shows, movie clips, music videos, documentaries, and more. The database is comprised of videos that people have uploaded to Google’s services, including YouTube, as well as videos from other sources.


Hulu is a free site that provides thousands of TV shows and films as streaming videos that contain short commercials.

Internet Archive Moving Images

The Internet Archive keeps a permanent record of Web materials so historians, academics, and other researchers can access them. It also serves as a repository for moving images (video), audio files, texts, and software in the public domain or available for use through a creative commons license. There are over 200,000 videos in the moving images collection ranging from historical pieces such as the Kennedy-Nixon presidential debates to cartoons form the 1930s and 1940s.


iTunes not only provides music, audiobooks, and podcasts, but also videos, including films and television shows. Some podcasts are video podcasts. There’s lots of free stuff available as well as films and episodes of TV shows that can be rented or purchased.


YouTube is the leading video-sharing Web site. YouTube allows people to upload and share video clips on its Web site as well as through mobile devices, blogs, and email. With millions of videos available, you will find current events, historical events and videos on virtually anything that may interest you. YouTube, owned by Google, has partnerships with several content providers, including CBS and BBC. Register for your own account at YouTube, and you can comment on videos and easily share them. Once registered you’ll be able to join the YouTube community.

Hands on Activities
(from Podcasting- IPL Wiki,, but the order is changed)

  1. Sign up for a free account and explore a video content sharing site such as YouTube, Vimeo,, and TeacherTube to see what features it has for users. Some things to look for would be the ability to “favorite” videos of other users, comment on and rate others’ videos, create ‘playlists’ of related videos, and more. Try some of these features out, such as ‘subscribing’ to a channel or ‘favoriting’ videos, to see how they work.
  2. Create a short video. Use your webcam, digital video camera, or capture activity on your computer using a screen capture program such as Jing or CamStudio ; alternatively, you can make a video out of digital photos using Animoto. If you are using a screen capture program that does not record sound, you can capture sound simultaneously using Audacity. (With Animoto, you will be able to select a music soundtrack; note though that you are limited to 30 seconds of video on a free account as in this IPL example Animoto video.) Second, you’ll likely want to edit your video with a video editor such as Windows Movie Maker, Apple’s iMovie or Camtasia. If you plan to upload your video to YouTube, you will want to cut the length to 10 minutes or less for each video and to export/produce/save the video in MPEG4 (.mp4) format. Finally, upload your video to a Web content sharing site such as Youtube,, Vimeo, or Teachertube. To upload, you’ll first need to create an account; for Animoto and Jing, during the setup or production process you’ll be prompted to establish accounts at a content sharing site (Animoto allows uploading to YouTube or Smugmug while Jing works with Screencast.) Lastly, play your video online to see how it looks and sounds. Many content sharing sites will also have a way for you to copy html code that allows you to ’embed’ your video into your own online blog or webpage if you wish.
  3. Create a remixed video. Using the Creative Commons, you can search for freely downloadable images, videos, and audio/music that has been licensed for distribution, remixing and reuse (click on the link in Creative Commons search for video, Jamendo for music and Flickr for images). Be sure to copy down the creators’ names to give appropriate credit in your video to those artists; look for anything on the item that tells you about ‘rights’ or ‘attribution’ to give credit properly (a link in Flickr, for example, could say ‘some rights reserved’ – click on that link to learn more about use and attribution for that item).
  4. Do you need to download a video? Follow the instructions at “ – download videos from YouTube.
  5. Read about the YouTube Partner Program, What are some benefits of joining that program? Drawbacks?

Thing 9 – Podcasting

June 5th, 2012

About Podcasts

About Podcasting (from Podcasting- IPL Wiki,

Podcasts consist of multimedia files recorded and offered through Web syndication. Podcast files are available for download and can be played back on a mobile device or computer; some can also be streamed from a hosting site for listening over the Web. Generally the term ‘podcasting’ is used for audio files, while ‘vodcasting’ is used for video. Some radio shows offer podcasts in which each ‘episode’ becomes available for downloading after broadcast; likewise other organizations or individuals may offer podcasts in a downloadable series, such as a sequence of audio lectures from an instructor with each new audio lecture becoming available for download after each class session. If you subscribe to an ongoing podcast, each subsequent audiofile in the series can be downloaded to you automatically when it becomes available. For a short YouTube video that explains podcast basics, see  Commoncraft’s Podcasting in Plain English by Lee Lefever.

Historically, mobile media players such as the Apple iPod predated podcasting, which emerged from what was initially called audio blogging; Christopher Lydon and Dave Winer are credited with one of the earliest podcasts in 2003, with the content of that early podcast sequence consisting of Lydon’s interviews with 25 leaders in the IT field. (Doyle, 2005)

Finding Podcasts

You can find podcasts on most sites that deal in broadcasts.  For example, National Public Radio (NPR), BBC, and CNN each have a portion of their sites dedicated to podcasts.  If you already know who produced the podcast that you want, simply go to that site and look for it.   For example, if you like National Public Radio programs and want to see if there are any that are available as podcasts, go to  The NPR Site lists podcasts by subject.  If you want to download it to your podcatcher or aggregator or listen to it on your computer you can do that.  There are other ways to find podcasts.  You can also search sites such as PodcastAlley , PodcastAlley allows searching by keyword or browsing by subject.  Once you find a podcast that you like, you can add the URL to your aggregator and listen to it later.  You can also use a podcast database that allows you to listen to the podcast immediately without subscribing.  One is called Podcast Pickle , You simply search or browse for a podcast to listen to, click on its title, and immediately you can listen to any episode that is listed.

When you ‘catch’ a podcast you are subscribing to an RSS feed. That means you’ll be giving a URL to the podcatcher or aggregator to represent the podcast. Then the aggregator contacts the site that hosts the feed, you get a list of episodes or podcasts to listen to and review, and the aggregator software keeps the list of podcasts up to date. For example, the URL for the podcast the NPR Business Story of the Day is

How Does Podcasting Work?

(from Podcasting- IPL Wiki,

For listeners, podcasting works similarly to an RSS feed reader or news aggregator which

checks and collects for you any newly posted blogging or news text content that you have subscribed to, except that instead of reading new blog posts or news items in your RSS feed reader or aggregator, the podcasting software downloads new audiofiles from your subscribed feeds. Examples of popular podcast reader software (or “podcatchers”) used for subscribing to and listening to podcasts include Apple’s iTunes and Juice (formerly iPodder). To compare software, see Podcatcher Matrix.

For podcast creators, or “podcasters,” the process involves first recording an audiofile (typically in .mp3 format) and then loading the audiofile to an online hosting location. To make audiofiles ‘downloadable’ for podcast listeners, the podcaster must also create a web page in rss format listing all audiofiles in the series that are currently available to be downloaded. Each time a new audiofile is added, the podcaster must update the rss.xml file which contains the list of audio files to add in each new uploaded recording. When a subscriber’s podcatcher software later checks for updates to the podcaster’s rss.xml file and finds a new audio file on the list, the podcatcher software automatically follows pointers in the rss.xml file to download the new audio file. (See Danny Sullivan’s guide on creating an rss.xml file for podcasters at and Apple iTunes example rss feed; note that iTunes uses some special tags.) Feed Validator can be used in checking for and fixing any problems with your rss.xml file. The last step is making the podcast ‘findable,’ for example by getting it listed in a directory of podcasts or in a site such as iTunes where listeners might more easily be able to find and subscribe to it. Each directory or listing site will have different instructions for submitting a podcast to be listed; in iTunes, for example, submitting a podcast is done by providing the rss.xml file link to the iTunes Store.

For Locating and listening to podcasts

For Creating podcasts

Hands on Activities

  1. View the video Commoncraft’s Podcasting in Plain English by Lee Lefever
  2. Go to Podcatcher Matrix and view some of the differences between iTunes and Juice.
  3. Go to Podcast Pickle, find and listen to a podcast that deals with small businesses. Listen to more than one  podcast in a series.
  4. If you have an iTunes account then start  iTunes and find podcasts that deal  with small businesses.
  5. Explore iTunesU by starting at
  6. Check out some of the podcasts on,
  7. See about making your own podcast. First download Audacity

Images used in this blogpost.

Andy Rush, “Podcasting”,

Laura Blankenship. “Day 16 podcasting. Using Audacity to edit a podcast.”,

Thing 8 – Virtual Worlds

June 4th, 2012

What is a Virtual World?

Virtual worlds are online communities that interact in some simulated space. Text-based

ivillege house

games and educational environments open to people via the Internet mark the beginnings of these virtual worlds. Current technology makes it possible for virtual worlds to now by 3-dimensional spaces with full multi-media capabilities. They still represent gaming and educational communities, but also are inhabited by other social groups.

Much of what follows has been taken from ipl:15 things – Virtual Worlds

About Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds, sometimes also known as MUVEs (“Multi-User Virtual Environments”) are online virtual spaces through which users navigate remotely by operating an avatar – a virtual representation of themselves – using a mouse, arrow keys, and keyboard text commands or joystick controls to “walk” around and interact with objects and other people’s avatars within the virtual environment.

The visual virtual world environments grew out of text-based virtual worlds such as LambdaMOO which portrayed the virtual world with text descriptions rather than visual images. The original text-based worlds were known as MUDs (multi-user dungeons) and MOOs (MUD, object oriented).

There are hundreds of virtual worlds in existence, although most people have only heard of a handful of them. Active Worlds, established in 1995, is one of the older visually-based virtual worlds, although Second Life, launched in 2003, is probably the best known.

How Do Virtual Worlds Work?

They are communities, so you need to register to access the world or community. Since many of these include visual representations of the world, you will likely  need to download software that acts as a client to access the representation. Virtual worlds are social spaces where users can chat using voice or text and engage in a variety of activities, from playing games to working and training collaboratively, to working in or running a virtual business.  A headset is also useful so that you can hear the sounds of the virtual environment and also to speak to others present.

Some virtual worlds are accessed through web browsers, while others require downloading a ‘client’ software. While typically users log in to servers and proprietary software owned by a company (such as Linden Labs for Second Life), there are some open source variations for virtual worlds software such as OpenSimulator (“OpenSim”) and Oracle/Sun Microsystems’Red Dwarf.    It is possible for organizations to purchase space on an existing virtual world, or if they have the expertise, to set up their own closed, ‘private’ world restricted to their own affiliated users only.


Some virtual worlds offer choices of different “starting” avatars (e.g. male, female, non-human). Both ‘paid’ and ‘free’ accounts may be available, in which the free accounts have more limited functionality. Virtual world users can usually convert real-world money into virtual world currency to purchase items for their avatars, or may be able to ‘earn’ virtual world money by performing tasks in-world. In addition to paid accounts and selling virtual items, virtual worlds may generate money through selling advertising or virtual land. Second Life features the ability for users to rent, own and sell land as well as to create and sell virtual items of their own design, which famously resulted in the first avatar millionaire. For discussion about economics in virtual worlds, see these two longer YouTube videos: Ge Jin discussing his dissertation about gold farmers and Julian Dibbell on economics and gaming.

Virtual World Examples

The Internet Public Library was an early pioneer in virtual worlds for reference services. Elizabeth Shaw (1996) described the initial pilot testing in late 1995 of IPL’s text-based virtual world reference service in “Real-time reference in a MOO: promise and problems.” The IPL MOO reference service operated from 1995 to 2001, and during that time provided a virtual learning laboratory for librarians interested in exploring real-time reference services.

Virtual worlds exist for users at every age level; some examples include Disney-owned Club Penguin

virtual world dance party

for six-year-olds and up, Gaia and Habbo Hotel for teenagers, for young adults and Second Life for adult users.

Many toys for children also now have associated online virtual worlds such as Webkinz stuffed animals, LEGO building blocks, Bratz dolls andBarbie dolls.

The 2011 edition of The Blue Book: Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds lists over 250 virtual worlds. A YouTube video by Gary Hayes shows 50 virtual worlds in a quick tour, including some which no longer exist.

Things to Read & View

Hands-on Exercises:

This hands-on activity explores the virtual world of Second Life. To get started with Second Life, register for a free new account at You will need to download and install the ‘client’ software and run that on your computer to access Second Life.

For useful information in getting started, see Torley Linden’s Second Life Quickstart Guideand Torley’s video tutorials

Activity 0: View Introduction to Second Life Viewer 2, 2010, and The Viewer’s built-in help – Second Life Viewer 2 Tutorial, 2010,

The remainder of these are sugegstions. Try a couple of them and write about them in your blog.

Activity 1: Lets have a class meet-up on the 2nd floor of the TOC Art Museum in the gallery that holds the paintings by Johannes Vermeer.

Activity 2: Then  head over to a dance club to hang out for a while. Make  group decision to find a suitable dance club.

Activity 3: Visit IPL 15 Things in Second Life for information about getting started and places to visit:

IPL 15 Things in Second Life (While Second Life is running, click this link in your Internet browser and use it to teleport)

Activity 4: Visit a virtual world library reference service. Alliance Virtual Library offers a virtual world reference service staffed collaboratively by librarians worldwide at Info Island in Second Life:

Second Life Library Info Island (While Second Life is running, click this link in your Internet browser and use it to teleport)

Activity 5: Visit a virtual world health and medical library. Alliance’s Health Info Island has a medical library and a consumer health library:

Health Info Island

Thing 7 – Photos & Images

June 3rd, 2012

About Image Sharing

Photo sharing Web sites are social networks that allow users to upload their images to a central host site to share among family, friends and the world. Most of these services also

Nationaal Archief / Spaarnestad Photo, SFA001012566

Nationaal Archief / Spaarnestad Photo, SFA001012566

allow you to keep your photos private. There are many different photo sharing services but many of them include a standard set of features including; the creation of a photoblog or gallery, embedding photos on other sites, such as blogs, and sharing them on other social networking sites. Most photo sharing sites offer a free and paid version of their services. Some of the most popular photo hosting and sharing sites are:

  • Photobucket
  • Picasa
  • SmugMug
  • Flickr,,  is a free photo and video sharing social network owned by Yahoo!. Flickr allows users to upload, edit, organize, share, tag and place photos on an interactive world map (commonly referred to as “geo-tagging”). As a social network, Flickr offers users to create and join groups where they can share their photos with other members of that group as well as post discussion topics and comments. Flickr remains one of the largest photo-repository Web sites on the Internet, hosting more than 4 billion photographs.

Flickr is owned by Yahoo! and if you are a Yahoo! member, you can use that ID to join. While it is difficult to describe something as ubiquitous as online image and photo sharing sites, if you have never used them you might give them a try. One of the great advantages with storing images online is that they are now available online should you need them for any online purpose—blogging, email, posting to forums, creating products with your images or designs, avatar creation, selling things on eBay, or any of a whole host of purposes.

There are dozens of web sites that offer free image storage and social networking, and they are detailed on ImgOps – Image Operations and

Here are a few alternatives to Flickr:

Learn More About It:

Fredericksborg Castle, Copenhagen, Denmark

Fredericksborg Castle, Copenhagen, Denmark

Flickr Details

  • Requires a Yahoo! ID to log in.
  • Limits uploads to 100 MB per month unless users subscribe to a “Pro” account ($25.00 USD). Pro users have no uploading limits.
  • Flickr has open-sourced bits of their code to allow third party developers the ability to create interesting Web applications using your uploaded Flickr photos. There are hundreds of third-party applications that have been developed to augment and enhance your Flickr experience in extremely creative ways. Phil Bradley’s Website hosts a large list of these inventive additions to your Flickr fun. Quick Online Tips also offers a large list of third-party Flickr applications.
  • Flickr has partnered with various third party print shops that provide simple printing solutions for any of your Flickr photos.
  • Flickr photos are automatically copyrighted with all rights reserved. Flickr offers users Creative Commons licensing as well.

How does Flickr work?

After you open up your free account, which limits the number of images (.jpg, .jpeg, .gif, .tiff, .png) you can add to your collection at 200, you can upload your digital images in a number of ways:

  • via the Flickr Uploadr (available for both PC and Mac)
  • via apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android
  • via iPhoto, Aperture, or Windows XP plugins
  • via their upload web page
  • via email
  • via various free third-party desktop programs

You can use Flickr to organize your images—using collections, sets, and tags. You can use Flickr to share where you are when the images were taken by using Maps, and see photos and videos taken near you. You can use the Flickr interface to keep in touch with family and friends through the Flickr contact feature, leaving comments and notes, and build a group of “friends” of your choosing.

Fredericksborg Castle, with embankment, Copenhagen, Denmar

Fredericksborg Castle, with embankment, Copenhagen, Denmark

There are many tutorials on how to use Flickr, for instance MediaMazine, Steve Campion’s “Learn More” series at his Library blog, and suggestions on how to use Flickr in your library.

For Flickr newbies, you can visit How to Get the Most Out of Flickr

Flickr belongs to the Creative Commons and a user can choose to offer their creations under this license. You can additionally browse or search Flickr under each type of license as seen on the Creative Commons section on Flickr.

Hands on Activities

1. Set up a Flickr account:

a. Open up a Flickr account for free.
b. Take the Flickr Tour.
c. Upload some digital images from your camera, computer, or cell phone. If a photo isn’t handy then download a picture that has no copyright restriction from the Library of Congress Photostream, and add that to your flickr collection.
d. Add titles and/or captions to the images, add tags to the images that will help you and others find them, and set your permissions so that your friends and family can see them.
e. Invite your friends to see your collection, and ask them to comment on your photos.
f. Invite the people who are in your photos to see themselves online.
g. Search Flickr for images that match your tags.
h. Play around with the site and browse the Popular Tags for the Past 7 Days.

2. Use a third-party application to have some Flickr fun. Try one of these:

a. Try Flickr Montager to create a interesting aggregations of your images.
b. Type in words and get Flickr photographs of the letters back to Spell with Flickr.
c. Search Flickr by color with Color Fields.
d. Embed Flickr slideshows into your blog or web page with Flickr Slidr.

3. Explore “The Commons” in Flickr.

Start at

The key goals of The Commons on Flickr are to firstly show you hidden treasures in the world’s public photography archives, and secondly to show how your input and knowledge can help make these collections even richer.

You’re invited to help describe the photographs you discover in The Commons on Flickr, either by adding tags or leaving comments.

Explore the types of images and some of the collections.

Feel free to comment on or tag images.

Add one or more images from “The Commons” to your blog posting for today.

Class 6. Summer 2012. CPSC 104

May 31st, 2012

A few videos to consider:

On to Thing 6 – Evaluating Information Found on the Web