Archives for posts with tag: Internet

With the ominous SOPA act looming menacingly over the internet it is more important than ever to seek out and support progressive methods of getting artists and writers the money they deserve.

A stand-out service that I have joined is a social micropayment service called Flattr.  You create an account, choose a monthly amount of money to add to a pot (minimum 2 euros) and then click the Flattr button on webpages you like to share the money with the authors.

Kind of like tipping – the idea is simple, brilliant and completely in line with the ethos of the internet. I’ve recently noticed the Flattr button on a few websites – and I’ve started looking out for it on articles that I have enjoyed reading. It is a great way to reward bloggers for their hard work.

The service was started by Pirate Bay founder and spokesman Peter Sunde as a way to reward content creators for their work. Ambitions involve using the Flattr button to pay music and video creators as well as writers – Flattr has already teamed up with SoundCloud to include a Flattr button on their music player and there is a way to add a button to your Flickr account. YouTube are apparently keeping an interested eye on the project and Facebook are looking into delivering something similar. The service has already been used at conferences, enabling listeners to ‘Flattr’ speakers.

The Flattr team have already developed an app for Chrome that allows you to support Wikipedia by pressing a browser button whenever you have enjoyed or benefited from a Wikipedia article. As it is unofficial – they are keeping hold of the money raised and will deliver it the the Wikimedia foundation when enough money is raised. Also, when PayPal and Mastercard froze Wikileaks account - Flattr provided a way for supporters to send funds.

Flattr is a great project ran by people that really seem to value internet freedom over profit. It is a refreshing idea in an age of pay-walls and dangerous legislation, and it harks back to the democratic and collaborative origins of the internet. Money goes direct to the producer, the consumer decides what they consider a fair amount to pay and the Flattr button integrates snugly next to the Facebook ‘like’ button. It’s an idea I hope spreads – so sign up and start Flattr’ing.

Socrata – A variety of data sets with a social vibe.

Timetric - Timetric aggregates statistics from the the world’s leading sources of economic data

Google Public Data Explorer – Anyone can upload data to Google’s newly launched search service.

Infochimps – Find every dataset in the world. Upload datasets and point to others across the internet. Datasets are easily browsed and the metadata is contributed by users.

Datamarket - UN, World Bank, Eurostat, Gapminder and others all contribute to 13,000 dataests (both paid and free).

Data.Gov – American government data

Data.Gov.Uk – UK government data

Get The Data – A forum of data geeks helping you with your data queries.

QR (short for quick response) codes are 2D bar-codes that can be read by smart phones which then process information – either taking you to a website, making a phonecall, sending a v-card and more.

QR Note is a website that makes creating a QR code and website really easy. Visit the website, design your webpage and print a QR code.

QR codes are used in marketing to create an interactive and fun way to get people through doors. Scavenger hunts using QR codes have proven successful – companies can provide clues that lead to real locations where QR codes can give points or discounts.

Other uses for QR codes include business cards (one barcode instead of all your social network addresses), labels that provide further information (art galleries, wine lists etc) and discount promotions. They can even be personalised (like the BBC QR code above).

Outside of marketing they can be used for more subversive ends. For example:

  • QR codes can be stuck on adverts of unethical companies, redirecting people to a protest website.
  • QR Note enables you to password protect QR codes, meaning your message can be protected against unwanted attention.
  • Networking during protests can be improved via the business card usage outlined above.
  • Also, a QR code card can be handed out at events, directing attendees to the events website.
  • A QR code can link to a location on Google Maps.

After technology is created by humans, it goes on to shape what it is to be human. For instance, consider the ability of our younger generation to sit in front of a monitor and play a game, speak to a friend, write a blog/essay and follow a stream of news – all at the same time.

This ability was rare before the modern Windows based PC became ubiquitous. Mastery over navigating computer windows has changed the way our mind learns.

A computer user smoothly moves from one activity to another. Often the contents of one activity informs and influences how the user understands and processes the contents of another activity. As Bert Olivier explains:

‘Before the advent of computers and the internet, intellectual activity was largely determined by the prevailing experiential and didactic model to be linear, syntagmatic (semiotically sequential), instead of a combination of syntagmatic and paradigmatic (semiotically associative).’

So, at a rudimentary level, the development of the internet has improved our ability to think in an associative way (to the detriment of a linear way of thinking).

Both ways of thinking have benefits and pitfalls – but one particular benefit of associative thinking is its association with metaphor.

Metaphor is an important but often neglected part of our life (we use about 6 metaphors every minute). Metaphor is what we turn to when we need to express abstract thoughts- thoughts ranging from love to philosophy.

In Aristotles words ‘metaphor is giving a name to a thing which is something else’. By saying that one thing is another thing, the mind is forced into a powerful associative process of re-understanding – it delves into a network of analogies. It helps us change our perceptions, discover new ways of expression and understand difficult concepts.

Marco Bertolini gives a talk at TED about why metaphor is so important to any decision making process. He describes an experiment that asks subjects their opinion about a scenario in which a small democratic country is invaded and appeals to the US for help. The question is,  should the US intervene?

Test subjects were asked their opinion, but the question was framed in one of three different contexts – one of World War 2, one of Vietnam and one of a neutral conflict. Those exposed to the WW2 scenario supported intervention significantly more than those that were not.

Of course, the likelihood is that many of those test subjects would not have based their decision on just one context if the event were to happen in real life. The internet would have allowed them to hear multiple perspectives, often simultaneously, all of which would have impinged on their final decision.

So the associative learning that comes from time spent on the internet should be seen as liberating, and a great way to improve our metaphorical way of looking at the world.

Of course, it also means that people are less susceptible to propaganda. But then, metaphor has always been the enemy of propaganda.

With Facebook announcing a major new messaging system (codenamed Project Titan) and Google snapping up acquisitions all over the place (83 so far) – what is the fundamental difference between these two giants of cyberspace?

The answer lies in the kind of data that they both deal in.

Facebook lets you tell the world all about you – what you ‘like’ about culture, companies and people. It is data that you want to give away so that you can show other people just how much of an individual you are.

Google, on the other hand, is a lot more personal than that. It is about what you really get up to when it is just you and the computer. It stores data about everything from your embarrassing rash to your sexual desires.

As Sebastian Anthony puts it:

‘Facebook knows who we want to be, while Google knows who we actually are.’

We could see this as Facebook being all about your public self, whilst Google is all about your private self.

Of course, the bottom line for the companies involved is all about how this fundamental difference affects revenue. Facebook advertises to your public self, and Google advertises to your private self.

The question now is whether Project Titan will change this fundamental difference by reading your Facebook emails and targeting adverts (something which Google already do).

This would be an advertising model based on both your private and public identities. Priceless to marketers, but something that I find unsettling.

Alan Rusbridger, the Guardian Editor in Chief, has outlined 15 reasons why Twitter is important. I have listed them below and then added 5 other reasons. I’ll add more as I think of them.

  1. It helps with distribution of news.
  2. It is often the source of breaking news.
  3. It can often outdo Google when it comes to search.
  4. It is a formidable aggregation tool.
  5. It is a great reporting tool – for both finding information and asking the crowd.
  6. It is great for marketing and letting people involved in your content know that it is there.
  7. It is a series of common conversations with instant feedback
  8. It is diverse environment.
  9. It is opening up a new tone of writing – brief but humourous, succinct and more personal.
  10. It levels the playing field – hard work is rewarded.
  11. It has different values – a story may make in all the nationals but have little Twitter impact, and vice-versa.
  12. It has a long attention span – conversations around a topic can last for ages.
  13. It creates communities.
  14. It changes notions of authority.
  15. It is an agent of change.

And here are my additions:

  1. You can follow events as they unfold – any news event will be given a hashtag and you can easily find help from the eyes on the ground.
  2. It allows you to be in several places at once.
  3. It encourages serendipity – you stumble across ideas and people that will completely change your opinions and direction.
  4. You can contact people directly – and it is much more likely you will get a response.
  5. It is perfect for finding the exact person you are loooking for – not to mention the possibilities in Geo-Tagging.

The amount you can fit into the 140 character limit of a tweet has just had a significant increase. Popular link sharing website bit.ly has began to offer a way to send multiple links as one shortened URL – Bit.ly Bundles.

Bit.ly aren’t the first company to do this – I’ve been using Fur.ly for some time to send multiple links – but they are the first ‘big’ brand to do so. And I hope they are the ones to help it really catch on.

As you would expect, the process is refined. You can arrange the links in your bundle, add notes, descriptions and headings, share your bundle and then start a conversation.

I have always been surprised that more people don’t tweet multiple URL’s. The possibilities are endless and it is a brilliant way to tell a story.

You could:

  • Collect a series of related Youtube videos
  • Show all the links in an internet debate or controversy
  • Tweet your morning reading to your followers
  • Show off your favourite sites
  • Give all the perspectives in an argument
  • Collect a series of training materials

Can you think of any more?

One feature that I would love to see is the ability to automatically create a bundle from al the links I have open in my browser.

(Bit.ly Bundle is part of my Web 2.0 Toolbox)

With such an abundance of information flying at us from around the web, the role of the curator is becoming increasingly important.

A curator is responsible for helping a clear narrative emerge from all the noise. They find the important parts and pull them together to create a compelling experience.

As blogging platforms have evolved they have increasingly  helped willing curators easily save and present content, allowing them to create highly engaging content for their readers.

Tumblr in particular has recently blossomed as a curating platform.

The easy to use blogging platform has attracted some of the top news organisations. They are finding content from across the web and using Tumblr to create an informal, human and social ‘scrapbook’ (Newsweek and TotalFilm are two excellent examples).

Storify is the next step in the evolution of blogging platforms.

Designed to enable curators to pull what people post on social networks into a compelling story – it allows a user to seamlessly pull video, photos or tweets into a single Storify story.

After playing around with it my initial thoughts are that it would be excellent for creating a story on any event that is being tweeted.

A curator can watch an event unfold on Twitter (by simply following a hashtag from within Storify) and drag and drop noteworthy tweets into a Storify story.

They can add text comments at any point, easily input any relevant links/images/videos/updates, give the story a headline and summary, and then embed the story on a website.

It is quick, easy and intuitive (key ingredients for any popular publishing platform) and destined for large scale adoption.

ReadWriteWeb have already demonstrated its potential by publishing an interview with Twitter founder Evan Williams.

For more excellent examples check out the Storify blog. And to gain access to the beta use this code TCDISRUPT

This infographic chart from the Colour Lovers site maps the branding colours of the most powerful websites.  The two top ranking websites don’t stick to one colour but use a rainbow mixture. And the top brands competing in a same area use a similar colour scheme. For example Facebook adopt a neutral blue colour and twitter went further with a softer blue.

I always love it when I’m shown a new web tool – so I thought I’d share some of my discoveries of what the web can offer.

Of course – there are tonnes of free tools available. But this list is my own personal toolbox – so it is the stuff I consider to be the best out there.

This is a work in progress – so PLEASE comment and let me know any that you think should be added to the list!

RECENTLY ADDED

Awesome Screenshot – Take a screenshot, then annote and edit it within the browser (Chrome Extension)

Error Level Analysis – Want to check if an image has been digitally edited – try this.

Tldr.it – Insert a link and this site will summarise the content into a few words.

Free OCR – OCR (Optical Character Recognition) will convert any image into text. Upload a PDF and download a word file. Works with large documents.

Mobile

QRNote – Put a note online and generate a QR code – great for promotion or play.

Website Stuff

Future Message – Send yourself an email, tweet or text any time in the future. Perfect for reminding yourself about important dates.

Backlink Watch – Generate a web page report of the backlinks to a URL

Change Detection – If you follow a page that does not have an RSS feed then this service will notify you whenever the site changes with new content.

Trick.ly – Shorten a URL and then password protect it

Randomize List – Need to randomise a list? Whack it here.

Bulkr – Upload up to 200 photos to Flickr at the same time

Crowdsourcing

All Our Ideas – Crowdsourcing solution for encouraging the voting, commenting and creation of new ideas.

Media Creation

One True Media – Mix your photo’s, video and music together using some cool themes.

Animoto - Create unique and professinal looking video clips using your own pictures, videos and sounds.

Collaboration

Sync.In – Realtime document conferencing. Collaborate without any sign in by sending a URL.

Google Shared Spaces – A variety of  applications that enables you to easily collaborate with others.

Screenr – Make a screencast by recording your desktop

Social Media

Booshaka - Find out what is trending on Facebook

SlideShare – Put your slides on the web – everyone loves a slideshow!

Audioboo – Upload and share sound files through a user profile – find regular uploaders to follow.

Delicious Social Bookmarking - The best way to bookmark pages with a single click (best used with a browser extension).

Trunk.ly – This bookmarking service allows you to search the websites you have saved – and it automatically saves every site you tweet or post on Facebook.

Dlvr.It – Synchronise your blog, website, news feed, delicious account with your Twitter, Facebook , LinkedIn account. Publish to everything with the click of a button.

Facebook Check – Put your Facebook ID or URL into this programme and it will tell you exactly what can be seen by others.

Yammer – Create a fully functional social network for your organisation.

Pearltrees – A great stylish and interactive way to present connections between media. Highly recommended!

FaceBook Wipe – Remove cluttering sidebars from FaceBook

Lanyrd – Never miss a conference with this site. Login with Twitter and it gives you a list of conferences your friends are attending – then you can add more.

Files and Storage

DocDroid – Upload, view and share any file format.

You Send It – Transfer files of up to 2 Gigabytes.

CloudSafe – Store personal details and access them on this secure website.

FileMinx - Convert image, sound, video and text files into whatever you need with this site.

Dropbox - Store, synchronise and share files online – a great collaboration tool and useful if you work from mulitple computers.

PDF Convertor – Create PDF’s easily.

CreatePDF – Create a PDF of a webpage

Time Saving Research Tools

Apture – Highlight text and open up a box with information from Wikipedia, YouTube and others.

Google & Android

Chrome to Phone – Send links, numbers or anything else from your browser to your Android mobile

GooReader – If you use Google Books regularly then this provides a nice bookshelf to view search results and an all round better reading experience

Google Map Storage – Download a Google map to your harddrive for offline access.

Data Tools

Text Mechanic – Paste text into a window and perform some text manipulation – lots of features including add a suffix/prefix to each line, search & remove and others.

Visualising Data

Simple Diagrams – Fun and easy way to create flow charts and mind maps.

Snappy Words the Visual Dictionary – Discover connections between words and concepts visually in a cool and sophisticated way.

Tagxedo – Design stylish word clouds. Like Wordle – but better. (Hint – when creating word clouds use Word to remove common words like ‘is’, ‘and’ etc).

Tagul – Another wordcloud generator with tonnes of features.

Tableau Public – A really powerful tool to create data visualisations that can easily be embedded into a website.

Show The World – Shows world information on an interactive map

Hohli - Use this site to make Venn diagrams.

Many Eyes – A powerful visualisation tool by IBM – features text analysing tools such as word tree, phrase net and tag cloud – loads of fun!

Guide to Visualization Methods – A periodic table of visualisation techniques.

How Big Really – Transpose things of scale onto a map to help comprehend size.

TimeToast – Easy to use time-line creator. You can embed this onto your blog by using VodPod and following the guide here.

Batch Geo – Map location data onto a Google Map – you can then put the map onto your blog.

Visual Thesaurus – An alternative visual way to seek out synonyms.

Bubbl.us – Create colourful and simple brainstorms and mindmaps and easily share them

Preceden -Timeline creator

Office Tools & Time Savers

WiseStamp – Design an email signature that can include your latest update on social networks.

Branded URL Shortener – A nice guide to acquiring your own branded shortened URL’s.

VoiceBase - Automatically transcribe spoken word to text.

Excel Help – Ask an expert your Excel problems and get an answer in about half an hour.

Google Doc’s – Google’s answer to Office keeps on getting better and better – and its great for sharing spreadsheets!

Notes For Later – Highlight text in your browser and then click on a button in your toolbar to send the highlighted text to your email. You can include a note, receive a time-stamp and open the text as a PDF.

StudioCloud – Free and award winning business management programme.

Happy CV- It’s always good to have an up to date CV – this makes it simple.

Resizer – If you need to upload images of a certain size – use this programme to do it quickly.

Jing -The quickest and easiest way to grab and share screen-shots.

Evernote – Capture every thought, link, image and anything else all in one place – then organise it and search your notes. Extremely useful and syns nicely with your phone.

Multiple URL Shortener – Furly lets you collect a group of links and turn them into one – useful for sending a collection of related links.

Art & Design

TypeTester – Test and compare fonts side by side.

3D Tin – Need to create a simple 3D image quickly? This will allow you to make a cube based image in no time.

Paint.net – The most powerful free image editing software.

Icon Editor – Does what it says on the tin. Design and edit your own icons for a personal feel.

Pixlr - A photoshop imitation that runs in your browser, has more features than Paint but not as user friendly.

Creately – Collaborate and generate beautiful diagrams using this product – it has loads of functions and a good interface.

Lucid Chart – Simple web based flowchart creator

Graphviz - Automate graphs

Search Tools

Searchopener – Run multiple searches at the same time.

Seek WP – Search Engine that will only find WordPress related pages.

Similar Site – Like a site? Enter it into this search and find similar sites (real useful for discovering new content).

MacroGlossa – Need to know what an image is? Upload a picture and MacroGlossa will find similar images to help you identify

BlogPulseIceRocket - Sophisticated and advanced blog search.

Board Reader – Great way to search forums.

Mimvi - A search engine for mobile phone app’s

Scribd - Explore millions of document, or upload your own.

Piq – Website that lets you design your own pixel based picture.

Touch Graph – Amazing tool that allows you to create a spiderweb of all the websites around a search term.

BlogPulseIceRocket - Sophisticated and advanced blog search.

Twitter Tools

If you’re not using Twitter yet – then start! Here are some of the tools I use:

Tweetdeck – The best way to organise your lists and keep up to date – a downloadable programme, and I challenge anyone to better it!

Backtweets - The best Twitter search engine that I can find.

Formulist – Easily organise people into lists.

Peerindex – Powerful tool for assessing social capital – gives tweeps lots of rankings and tells you the subjects they tweet about it.

Proxlet – This app for Google Chrome lets you filter your Twitter timeline to filter out automated messages or other things – pretty useful.

Timoim – DM people a link to open up a chat box. Can be public or private.

SiftLink - Create an RSS feed of links posted by your Twitter users – meaning you never miss a link.

http://packrati.us/ – Bookmark tweets on delicious

Remember The Milk – Use Twitter to send yourself reminders through this excellent task manager.

Tweepi – A way to follow large numbers of people quickly, get rid of people that don’t follow you back and reciprocate a follow (important hint – use the shift button to select everyone in a list at once).

Twuffer – Schedule a list of tweets and set a time for their delivery – great if you want to maintain a constant Twitter presence.

GroupTweet – Send a group direct message to every person in the group easily.

Guide to Auto-message – This guide shows you how to send an automatic message to anyone that tweets anything you specify.

TweetBeep - Receive email updates whenever a word or username is mentioned – you’ll never miss a tweet again!

Mr Tweet – Helps you find and engage with people in a network.

Listomatic - Best way to manage your Twitter lists that I can find.

Twitter Grader – Want to check how well you are doing with your Twitter presence? Get graded!

Tweet Stats - Graphs that tell you how often you tweet, what time and day you tweet the most often and more.

Row Feeder – Search for a keyword and track it in real time through Twitter using a Google doc’s spreadsheet. (Limited free usage)

Paper.Li – Organise links shared on Twitter into a newspaper style format – the most commonly tweeted links around a topic are highlighted.

News Sites And Aggregators

Yahoo Pipes – A tool with a ridiculous amount of possibilities – hack RSS feeds together, filter them and manipulate them. Takes a little while to learn but worth it.

Google Reader – Follow your favourite websites and group them into categories – the best RSS reader (in my opinion anyway).

Google New – Well presented widgets giving the latest news about Google products

Prldr - An RSS reader that displays the webpage in the right hand of the screen and the feed in the left – pretty useful.

Video

TED – The number one source for inspirational talks from the worlds best thinkers

Talk Miner – Search this website to easily find lectures

MyYouTube – This Adobe product lets you store and organise YouTube videos. Create playlists and search through your collection

YouTube Proxy – Access Youtube and other sites when using a restricted computer

YouTube Social – Watch a video at the same time as other people.

YouTube Leanback – Use this to sit back and watch a stream of high def full screen videos.

Google Beat – Watch a video from Google showing what the latest most popular search terms and trends are.

TubeMote – Use your smart phone as a YouTube remote control

Turntubelist - Create YouTube music playlists, cross fade them and explore other mixes.

Oli Conner

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