Social Networking

I’ve long been an advocate of social networking.

I love myspace as it’s a great way to find out about new music and for unsigned acts to raise their profile. It’s especially useful when you’re going to a gig and need to know whether it’s worth going in early, or staying at the bar!

I also love facebook, I’ve found it’s a great way to keep in contact and is very useful for sending out mass messages to friends etc. I also like the updates, it’s a good way to share information so seeing photos from events people have been to, new babies, new hairstyles etc. Also, as several of my friends have been travelling recently it’s been great to see their photos and get inspirations for trips of my own. Although one negative of Facebook is that people lose the ability to self-edit (I would argue this is also a problem with some blogs. Unfortunately people don’t just edit the good photos from a night out, the one where everyone’s smiling and look nice, they add the ten attempts it took to get that photo!

I also enjoy some of the more “professional” side of facebook, I am a fan of the British Library and Nursing Times magazine and have found it a useful way to get updates from both organisations.

I like the chat feature on Facebook but it is rather primitive (I’m a great fan of “appear offline” on msn!) and prone to freezing up.

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Youtube

I’ve had fun signing up to fun videos etc on youtube. I think it’s a great resource, I really enjoy watching music videos on there. The above is a clip from a show I produce, it’s instore television for a chain of Japanese hair salons. The band’s lead singer is a good friend of mine. The band are JukeBox Vandals (http://www.myspace.com/jukeboxvandals).

It’s good being able to save the videos you like and also to subscribe to particular people’s videos, this is great if for example you like a particular music video director, so you can keep up to date whenever they bring something new out.

Obviously youtube has had its problems, those of controlling and policing such a vast resource. So there have been criticisms particularly surrounding the prevalence of videos containing violence and anti-social behaviour. I think it’s important not to let the actions of a few taint the enjoyment of many. Youtube is an amazing website which is wonderful in its opensource mentality. Although I agree there could be more done to take away offensive material more quickly, I don’t think people should criticise the website as a whole for the content some users choose to upload.

Stumbling

Not sure if anyone in the group is aware of this fantastic program called Stumbleupon (http://www.stumbleupon.com/).

You register for it and then state some particular areas of interest (music, technology etc). What it then does is to take you on a freefall of the web. For example you might be checking your hotmail for any Learning 2.0 updates, then you can hit the stumbleupon button on your toolbar and it will take you to a totally random website which fits with your previously stated interests. Then hit stumbleupon again and it’ll take you somewhere completely new! It’s very exciting and leads you to all kinds of interesting things. I first signed up before I had my Library MA interview and just put professional interests, it was a great way to find loads of interesting and varied information about the library world.

A great new development in Stumbleupon is their channels feature, this means that when you go on to various websites such as youtube and myspace, it will do its usual stumbling, but just within that website. So you will stumble through various different myspace pages finding lots of cool new (maybe just new to you!) bands.

A brilliant resource which can be used either as a vibrant current awareness tool or as a fun timewaster.

Podcasts, my thoughts

I’m a great fan of podcasts and have been for some time. The best piece of advice I can give to anyone is: be selective! At first I signed up to tons of interesting looking podcasts, but there are only so many hours in the day you can listen to them so they can clog up your i-pod if you’re not careful.

I subscribe to a variety of podcasts, from the strange and irreverent humour of Adam and Joe (BBC6 music) to the current worldwide affairs of From Our Own Correspondant.

I think it’s great that there is now so much flexibility and people aren’t tied to a particular time and place. Subscribing to podcasts is a great way to ensure you never miss your favourite programmes and there is such a variety that most people will be able to find things they are interested in. I also like the technology of the i-player and channel four’s watch online service*, allowing you to watch programmes from the last week’s worth of television. There is such a wide variety of programming available through such services that it is, in the words of the BBC “making the unmissable, unmissable”.

*4OD however, is a terrible programme. I downloaded it and it has never worked properly despite reinstalling and running various diagnostics, I know many people who have had similar problems. It’s a potentially fantastic resource but until it can work consistently, it is nothing more than theoretical.

online applications and tools

Mobile phones – I regularly use my mobile phone to go on msn, check my hotmail, gmail or facebook. I’ll admit that these three leisure activities are what I use most frequently, but it’s handy if you are running late to get somewhere and need to find a contact’s phone number which you might not have in your phone memory, or to look up the venue’s address again. The access is quite a lot slower, but it’s nothing compared to dial-up! Also, many more websites now have mobile versions and the website knows you’re on a mobile so defaults to that version.  There are also mobile-only sites such as m-tube which is a variant on youtube designed specifically for use on mobile phones.

Browsers – I have used firefox for many years. Initially it was a feeble attempt to fight back against microsoft’s dominance. However, the functionality and stability of firefox has – in my experience – been greater than IE. Therefore I use it as my default browser at home and at work.

Google docs is a great resource. I found it very useful whilst at university, if I’d forgotten to take my memory stick with me to the library, I could save work, quotes etc to google docs rather than emailing to myself. I also host my monthly budget on there so I can update it as I spend money – important in these “credit crunch” times!

I have several toolbars at home, including delicious and stumbleupon. I find these really useful and have recently discovered others such as the National Library for Health one http://www.library.nhs.uk/tools/ which is useful for quick research needs. I also like the Bookmark toolbar on firefox, which I find indispensable as a quick resource. I’ve just created a toolbar for my blog, I’ll wait to see if I find that useful.

Widgets I’d mainly used as an end user, so it was fun to be on the creating end of that!

Mashups I’d never heard of, in those terms, however I was aware of the theory of them. I think they’re really exciting and have great potential for the future for a wide range of users.

Tagging and bookmarking

I’ve been using the social bookmarking site delicious for some time now, I’ve found it a really useful way to take your bookmarks with you. Specifically I have found it useful to tag work-related sites at work, but save them to delicious in order to consult them when I’m at home studying etc.