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Marshall's Web Tool Blog

Training and Consulting in New Tools for Effective Web Use

This site is an archive of posts that I hope you will find useful. Please visit my new site at Marshallk.com.

Search Engine News

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Awards

Search Engine Watch released today their 5th annual awards for the best search engines in a number of different categories. That post is here. It's interesting, and may be especially so for people who don't know about many of the search engines that won awards.

Some of the most intriguing details include:

Outstanding Search Service: Yahoo
2nd place: Google Honorable Mention: AskJeeves

Best MetaSearch Engine: Jux2

Best Blog/Feed Search Engine: Bloglines
2nd Place: Feedster Honorable Mention: Technorati

I think Technorati should have won this category, I believe their index is far bigger than anyone else and there are more projects, like Technorati Tags, are integrating multiple services to achieve something entirely new. And the Technorati developers contest - way cool, especially the winner, govtrack.us Maybe I just haven't been paying enough attention to the other two winners, though. I'll spend some more time checking them out and write a comparative review of blog/feed search engines sometime soon.

They also gave some props to Clusty. They didn't mention desktop search, however.

Money

Speaking of which, the purported champ of desktop search, Copernic looks like it's being bought by metasearch engine Mamma. Interestingly, Mamma is being sued by shareholders for inflating the worth of their stocks in an alleged "pump and dump" action. Oh the scandalous world of semi-obscure internet search engines!

Ask Jeeves was just acquired for nearly $2 billion. There is a flurry of search and other net buy outs going on right now, as is summarized well by Seattlite Greg Linden

What does it mean for users? We'll see how it plays out. I'll write more about that after I get a chance to think about it. Anyone else have any thoughts on the subject?

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Wiki session completed

Last night I presented a group wiki for a non-profit organization in Portland to use as an internal communications system. I hadn't spoken to a group of people in years, and though I used to be very good at it, I was super nervous last night. Things didn't go a bit like I expected, it was very informal, but it was a good experience for me as I begin this type of work.

The important thing is that the group was excited to use the wiki. They were excited before I came, but now they understand how to use it and are full of ideas for topics and documents that would be appropriate to put in their wiki. That's fantastic. I will now continue being in contact with them in order to assist their adoption of the program. It should save them a lot of time and headaches, as well as making their monthly meetings more effective.

For those interested, we ended up choosing PmWiki to use. It was not difficult for the group's tech support team to download onto their server, and it has been quite simple so far to configure.

The feature the group was most responsive to (beyond the fundamental coolness of a wiki site that can hold all their content and be easily edited by any group member) was PmWiki's email notification system. It is designed to be configurable to stagger email notification of changes made to pages. Instead of sending one email out for every tiny change, sometimes 5 or 10 made quickly in a row by a single user, the program notes when a change is made, waits 20 minutes and then sends one email with all the changes made in that time period. That's a pretty fantastic feature.

I hope that some of the group's members will stop by this blog (hi!) and perhaps leave a comment now and then about any thoughts on wikis they come up with during use.

I will be writing a post soon about "wiki manners" or use-tips and for posting both here and in the wiki I demo'd last night.


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Wiki Training Talking Points

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
I'm going to do a training/presentation tomorrow night about the use of a wiki as an internal discussion tool between monthly meetings for a non-profit group's board of directors. The group's technical support guy/wiki administrator has decided to go with PmWiki, which I suggested. Below are some of the talking points I'm working on for the presentation. Please feel free to post comments with feedback, suggestions or other ideas of things I should discuss. These are just basic sketches, but they cover many of the ideas I plan to touch on.

drum roll please...

Wikis are simple to use, but there is still a learning curve to them. Once you make that turn, reading and posting to the wiki between meetings will seem easy to do – but please communicate to us any questions or concerns you have about its use so that you can be as comfortable as possible.

Different Degrees of Participation

Based on other peoples’ experiences using wikis in groups, out of the total number of participants -- less than everyone typically keeps up with reading the wiki content and a smaller number still tends to write in the wiki. One goal for maximizing the usefulness of the wiki is to try and make the percentage of readers and contributors as high as possible. We’ve made that central in our minds when laying out this wiki, and we hope that you will be thinking when you use it "what could help me move up to the next level of use?" That’s the perfect kind of thing to post to the help page.

Acknowledging different levels of use, though, the program we’ve selected allows a "print this page" option to be selected so that hard copies of pages can be brought to meetings for everyone to see.

Self-awareness Regarding Use

Wikis are intended to be very non-hierarchical, so questions posted to the help page can be of interest to anyone using the system. If you have suggestions for your fellow users around questions they’ve posted, edit that page and post what you’ve learned. Likewise, even if you post "I need help with this too," or "I can’t imagine using that feature myself" – that will increase the group’s self awareness about where everyone is at in terms of use and needs, and any post to the wiki will increase your familiarity with the process of editing a page.

Types of Content

The initial content in the wiki should lend itself to people jumping in to edit pages and contribute. The group’s mission statement is evolving, so the current text has a page. Edit that page and add feedback, thoughts, suggestions, concerns and possible alternative wording.

Meeting notes will also be added to the wiki. Instead of relying on one note taker’s memory and interpretation of discussions, you can edit the page and add your take on the notes to the text. Either an asterisk inside the body of the notes, followed by your contribution or a separate addition at the bottom of the page could work. The wiki is really like a pad of paper on the internet, you can jot down notes, erase things if you feel so inclined, copy and paste text from everywhere, and paperclip other files or documents on to particular pages as attachments.

Other things that could be developed on the wiki include agendas for upcoming meetings, project updates, questions, feedback or requests for help, and documents and templates under development.

Structure

Like a pad of paper, if you want to draw attention to a new page, or a new topic on a page, you can go back to the table of contents at the front and mark down where the new section is. Starting a subject of conversation is as easy as starting a new page, and linking to it from the table of contents. Your wiki administrator will also keep an eye on the "recent changes" page, to see if any new content could be linked or listed more than it has been.

You might start by just editing pages to add your own comments to text already there. Then you might start new topics on preexisting pages, maybe with a subhead title for a new section of that page. Finally, you may add entirely new pages and link them back to other relevant pages. The more comfortable you can be with each of these options, the more flexible your use of the wiki will be and the more you will get out of it.

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Definitions added

Saturday, March 26, 2005
I've begun adding definitions of these mysterious new web tools on the right sidebar, as well as some of my thoughts on potential applications. Check em out and give me feedback if you like.


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Wiki Software Pre-Use Reviews

Friday, March 25, 2005
This is by far the most popular post I've written so far. People read it every day, and I appreciate that. Please let me know if you find this post useful, anything you're looking for that isn't here? Etc. I know there's not a lot of comparative reviews of wiki software out there, that's why I wrote one myself. Please feel free to leave some feedback. Thanks for visiting!

See also Wiki Manners and Wiki Training Talking Points, two related posts here.

There are a huge number of wiki software options now available at no cost to download. I looked at many of them, took other peoples’ recommendations as a guide for where to go looking (like this O'Reilly comparative review), and tried to use as many of the features as I could. I'm looking for non-hosted wiki software to recommend for use by a non-profit organization for internal communication and collaborative document development in between meetings. Of all the options available, four appear to be most widely used. MediaWiki (Wikipedia’s software), UseModWiki (Wikipedia’s first software), PmWiki and MoinMoin.

These are listed in the order of my personal excitement; but I imagine the decision of which to use should be made by the tech person/wiki administrator not the wiki evangelist.


PmWiki


PHP
Installation said to be simple Ended up taking tech support for group less than 30 seconds to install, a few minutes to customize
Editor: Helpful GUI (graphic user interface, b uttons that spit code) and text reminders on bottom of edit box. FCKEditor (a WYSIWYG) can be added on.
Page history: Appears to include indefinite number of changes by default, default setting highlights differences between versions in color. Very nice.
PassWord Protection: Available by page, group or site.
Email Notification: Fantastic. Admin can set email timer to backlog minor changes and send all at once, so no inbox swamping. RSS feeds also available.
File upload capabilities: Yes
Search: Yes

Other notes:
Little formatting of text available.
Uses the ~~~ for author signature.
Breadcrumbs can be turned on by admin.
Printable format avail, supressing menus and creating link list. Could be good for meetings!
Here's a nice example of a user site : http://digbig.com/4danr
#2 on the Top 10 Wiki Engines list at c2.com (the founders of wiki)

Pros: Has most everything I think we’ll need, except WYSIWYG editor. Has GUI. Email system looks especia lly good. Special features like breadcrumbs and printable format could be a real plus. Installation said to be simple.

Cons: No WYSIWYG editor. Little text formatting available, but that’s not a big deal..


MediaWiki


PHP w/MySQL database
Installation said to be simple
Editor: WYSIWYG for Mozilla and IE
Page history: supports well
Password protection: Unclear to me
Email notification: Patch available
File upload: Yes
Search:Yes

Other notes: Administrators can enable an on-page paragraph giving credit to editors who've worked on a page.
I am concerned that MediaWiki has too many features

Pros: Widely used and worked on. Familiar to anyone familiar with Wikipedia. Has WYSIWYG editor.

Cons: PW protection unclear to me if supported. Email notification not native to program (prefers watchlists for users instead, which relies on logins for reminders to follow contributions.) I fear feature overload, seems like a program best for large public wikis.


UseModWiki


Perl
Installation said to be easy
Editor: wikiwords or html, no WYSIWYG or GUI
Page history: good
PW protection: can make pages read only w/o pw
Email noti fication: Yes
File upload: Yes
Search: Yes
Other notes: Mediawiki page recommends UseMod for small wikis. O’Reilly reviewer recommends UseMod or PmWiki for small wikis. In page markup seems a little confusing, and there isn’t any other way to edit.
Pros: Has all needed features except non-wikiwords editor. Supports HTML, might be nice for some people. Has good rep as small wiki.
Cons: Lack of editor with buttons could really trip people out, though I’m not 100% sure. PW protection doesn’t se em to prevent outsiders from reading, maybe that’s not a big deal.


MoinMoin


Python
I did not do an extensive evaluation of MoinMoin for three reasons. It is written in Python (I did not see Python listed on the project administrator's site as a language they worked in), O’Reilly reviewer reports that it is complicated to install and not worth using. User Interface seems at first glance a little inhospitable, but perhaps not too bad. No GUI or WYSIWYG editor. You might want to check out MoinMoin and see what you think, especially if the above aren’t getting you too excited or you like Python. Lots of people use it.

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Introduction to the Concepts

Thursday, March 24, 2005
I hope this page is a helpful starting point for readers. Included here are links to the articles I've written about the tools I aim to teach people about: blogs, podcasting, search, social bookmarking, syndication (RSS), and wikis. I am working on a better system of catagorization and will make it available soon.

Blogs
Perhaps the most well known new web tool, blogs are a simple way for anyone to add writing to their own web page. Blogs are intended to expand who has a voice online, but can also be used internally within organizations. Blogs are filled with links and are typically updated quickly and often. (Longer concept intro here.)

Seach my blog for articles about blogging here.

Podcasting
Podcasts are MP3 format audio files, typically delivered as attachments in syndicated RSS feeds (see definition below). They are essentially syndicated radio shows that you can subscribe to and play on a portable MP3 player or your computer whenever you like. Podcasting can also be used internally to communicate within organizations. (Longer concept intro here.)

Search my blog for articles about podcasting here.

Rush Limbaugh to Podcast
A New All Podcast AM Radio Station
Podscope: Search for Podcasts
Podcasting Section Updated
Podcast Review: Geek News Central
Rupert Murdoch (Fox) on Blogs and Podcasting
Beyond the White Male Blogosphere

Search
Searching on the internet can be done with far more powerful tools than big commercial search engines; automated persistent search for key content, multimedia searching and searching with multiple engines at once are just a few possibilities. (Longer concept into here.)

Persistent Search with Google News and RSS
Search: Local Harvest
Podscope: Search for Podcasts
Who's Writing About You Online (persistent search)
Two Cool Google Tools: XtraGoogle and Soople
Search Engine News

Social Bookmarking/ Folksonomy
A new class of online tools lets you bookmark web sites you find into a personal web archive, lets you organize them by categories or subject tags, lets you share them by subject with others, and recommends other web content or users' archive streams similar to what you've bookmarked. This is only the beginning of what some tools offer. The basic idea is to allow web users to collaboratively classify what they find on the web, instead of relying on centralized systems of organization and discovery. (Longer concept intro here.)

Getting the Most Out of Furl: Part I
Flickr: The Secret Life of Plants
Educause's Intro to Social Bookmarking
Folksonomy, Tagging and Intranets (IBM)


Syndication (RSS)
A growing number of organizations are using syndicated "feeds" to deliver news and other content; when you open your feed reader inbox, it will automatically visit each feed you are subscribed to and deliver any new headlines to your inbox. No more forgetting the web addresses of your favorite sites, visiting sites that haven't been updated, or getting news sent to you from sources you haven't requested. That means more and better information in less time. (Longer concept intro here.)

Google Portal: Proof of Fallibility
Persistent Search with Google News and RSS
Sample Feed Aggregator Account Created (read here to get user name and password)
RSS: Using Feedburner
What's in Your Aggregator?

Wikis
Wikis are special web sites that anyone can edit with one click, where all previous versions of a page can be viewed, and any changes made trigger an automatic email sent to all users of the wiki. Wikis are made for collaborative knowledge and document development by people in different places at different times. (Longer concept intro here.)

Exciting New Tool: Wikalong

Ride Oregon: A Wiki With Tags
Wiki Manners
Wiki session completed
Wiki Training Talking Points
Wiki Software Pre-Use Reviews
Wiki Implementation


If you appreciate the information here, you'll love a training or consulting session for your personal work or your organization about the use of any or all of these tools. I also offer a free email newsletter that discusses many useful new developments in the online world. Short of contacting my sliding scale services, you can also make a PayPal donation to support this important work expanding access to these tools beyond a corporate context.

I hope you find this blog useful and thank you for visiting.

Signing Out

Well, I've run out of time to work today, so I'll have to post the results of my wiki searching tommorow. So far I'm excited about the following:
  1. PmWiki
  2. MediaWiki
  3. UseModWiki
In about that order. Any thoughts?

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Wiki Implementation

Ok, so I need to finish my wiki (definition) comparisons today and get them to the technical half of my team for this project. I've been spending a little too much time doing technical comparisons of the various options and need to switch over to usability requirements in order to complete the write up.

I believe that wiki implementation is primarily a cognitive or creative process; implementation needs to be planned and carried out in a way that will maximize user comfort and excitement. Fortunately for this presentation next week, the group is already excited about setting up a wiki. My last presentation was to a group wherein the upper management was not supportive enough to help overcome some technical obstacles. (That's my perception of what happened anyway.) One way or the other, it was a good learning experience. I realized that working with groups on the margins of economic power will often include out of date technology.

So, here's a few highlights from a wonderful article I just read about a successful case of wiki implementation. It was written by Michael Angeles, an information specialist at Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies. It can be found on his website at urlgreyhot.com or archived here (via my account at Furl.net).

Using a Wiki for Documentation and Collaborative Authoring

  • even though it seems simple, still has a learning curve
  • getting people comfortable with "edit page" is first hump...Getting people to publish new pages, however, has required a bit more help and instruction.
  • After our initial outline was in place on the home page, I then ported our static pages from the old site to the Wiki. Giving the staff something to react to rather than providing them with a blank slate for them to fill was necessary to encourage them to start using it.
  • the number of active authors remains small, with perhaps 1/4 of the staff regularly updating wiki pages. Some people prefer to channel changes through a few selected gatekeepers. I read this to mean that there are a variety of ways to relate to wikis, many of which do not include personally writing in them.
  • One of the roles of your Wiki administrator may be to have someone watch the "Recently updated pages" to find the new pages that appear and link to them on a category page or the home page.
  • While it may be easy to get a Wiki up and running, the real test of a Wiki's value will be its ability to be continuously utilized. Below are some best practices that may help ensure the sustainability of your Wiki.

  1. Train your users -- Hold informal training sessions at the beginning of your project and make yourself available to help users on an ongoing basis Marshall and Justin
  2. Keep it organized -- Invest time in creating and maintaining category pages, and when you see uncategorized pages, talk to the author about putting them in a category Justin
  3. Understand use -- Watch the recent changes page to understand how people are using the Wiki Marshall? and Justin
  4. Lead by example - Use the wiki in all of your project work and to document commonly used staff resources, processes and procedures Justin
  5. Protect -- Public Wikis may be open to edit-spam, so protect yours and back it up often Justin if necessary
Summary

Wikis can be an open, flexible platform for collaborative web page authoring. They reduce steps in workflow and work very well in small, controlled groups. But as with most projects that will depend on user contribution, its success depends on ensuring that you make the system bend to meet the processes and needs of your users and that you are able to invest time in training and in continually managing it.


Well, this has been another long blog post, but I hope that it was interesting and useful. I'm going to get back to work comparing wiki options and will post my findings here.



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Wikis

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Wikis are a class of web site that anyone can edit. They are used for time and space independent communication, collaborative knowledge development and collaborative document development. They are relatively simple to use.

The largest wiki in the world is Wikipedia. As in all wikis, users can edit any page, discuss the contents and see the history of previous versions. People interested in particular pages can request automatic notification whenever those pages are changed, allowing for community self-checking. Wikis trade authority for inclusiveness, and are good sources for wide ranging research.

Many organizations use wikis to communicate between physical meetings and to save time discussing new ideas and changes to texts. Organizations with multiple generations of participants could benefit from using a wiki to store and evolve knowledge from one generation to the next. Communities of interest can also use wikis to develop a list of problems and shared ideas for solutions. See, for example, WikiPod, a wiki about iPods.

I can help your organization select, set up and learn to use wikis.

Blogs

Blogs, or Web-logs, are web pages that are easy to publish chronological content on. The biggest blog search engine, Technorati indexes the content of almost 9 million blogs around the world. Originally used as public personal journals and stream-of-consciousness writings by computer programmers, blogs are now used for a huge variety of purposes.

Many, many businesses now use blogs for external and internal communication. From Fortune 500 companies, to tiny one-person operations, blogs help businesses develop highly communicative relationships with the community around them. Stonyfield Farms Dairy, has 5 different blogs to communicate with their customers. Signs Never Sleep is a fantastic blog for a little sign making company to demonstrate its works in progress.

Social movement participants, academics and people seeking to highlight their interests and brilliance to potential employers are all using blogs as well.

This site is a blog, hosted on Google's free service Blogger . There are many different free and paid blog hosting services and many, many different ways to use blogs.

I can help with blog set-up, strategy and promotion. It's lots of fun.

Welcome!

Hi there everybody (or should I say anybody) and welcome to my new little blog. I've been itching to get started on this for a long time and now that I've finally graduated from school...here it begins.

What I intend to do is start a consulting and training business in the use of new web tools. Tools like...

  • RSS - content syndication, push and pull
  • Search - including automated search, metasearch and other search tools
  • Blogs - easy web publishing
  • Wikis - collaborative knowledge development
  • Social bookmarking - popular cataloging of online content
  • Podcasting - radio on demand/ MP3 content mixed with RSS syndication
  • And anything else that's exciting and useful!
I believe that while big businesses and other large institutions are rapidly adopting these tools, social change organizations and small businesses are doing so far more slowly. That's a real loss to them, but something that can be easily overcome with exposure, relatively simple training in the use of these tools and some creative application into particular groups' contexts and needs.

For those who are familiar with, for example, the use of RSS aggregators - you know how exciting the difference is between access to personalized, aggregated content feeds and manual web surfing for information. For those unfamiliar, I believe that the difference between using the web without RSS and with RSS is analogous to the difference between using a dial-up phone line connection and a high-speed connection. There is a world of new possibilities opened, and once you've taken that step you won't want to go back; using the web in the old ways starts to feel like using it incorrectly.

In the interest of keeping blog entries succinct I'll wrap this one up. Right now I am working on a comparison of various wiki software options. (See Wikipedia's definition of a wiki.) I have a short period of time to prepare for a presentation to a non-profit group interested in using a wiki for internal communication between their monthly meetings. I'll write more about that, and the future of this blog and my business in another entry.

If you are interested in keeping abreast, here's my RSS feed for these blog entries. This blog will of course be undergoing dramatic changes in the coming days, but I wanted to get the content flowing. Thanks for reading!



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RSS Syndication

RSS (rich site summary, or really simple syndication) is a tool that automatically checks any website it is directed at for new content and delivers it into one central location. There are a number of alternatives to RSS that do the same thing. The blog software I am using for this page uses Atom (via the Atom 0.3 button on the front page.) The little news sections in the right side bar of this blog's front page utilize RSS to display headlines automatically from the RSS "feeds" I catch on those subjects.

According to a recent Pew survey, an estimated 5% of US web users read their news by RSS. Instead of trying to remember all your favorite web addresses, and wasting time going to ones that haven't been updated since the last time you visited - you can subscribe to the RSS feeds of sites that offer them and read all your new headlines in one inbox. Many different kinds of content can be delivered to an RSS inbox, or aggregator, including automatically found search results and MP3 or other file attachments. There are many advantages to RSS over traditional email newsletters, and it is expected to be one of the primary news delivery methods of the coming years.

My RSS aggregator catches more than 150 feeds every time I log in, and many people read more. RSS technology, combined with good strategies for using it, can dramatically increase your access to key information while reducing the problem of information overload.

I use Newsgator to read RSS feeds, many people use Bloglines and there are many, many more options available.

You should be using RSS feeds to read news, you should offer RSS feeds for the content you create (see this blog's RSS feed in the top right hand corner of the front page), and you can use RSS feeds to capture and post automatically any news of interest to your web site's visitors.

Showing people how to use this tool is one of the things I'm most excited about.

I've set up a demonstration account at Newsgator that you can log it to at this link. The username is "marshalldemo" and the password is "welcome". You can read about this demo account in this entry on my blog.

Podcasting

Podcasting is a very new medium that utilizes the widespread use of portable MP3 players (like iPods) and feed syndication. Podcasts are sound files that can be downloaded easily for listening to either on your computer or an MP3 player. Syndication technology allows some MP3 players to be automatically loaded with new episodes of Podcast shows they have subscribed to each time they are docked.

Podcasting is an exploding medium, there are already shows on an amazing variety of topics. The field is still dominated by computer, technology and business shows, but there are more and more other types of Podcasts being launched every day. Religious Podcasts are very widely listened to. Some organizations, including major corporations, are also using Podcasting to send internal messages to group members and employees. There are as many possible uses for Podcasting as there are for any recorded, regularly updated audio.

If you would like help recording, promoting, or just listening to Podcasts - that's something else I'm excited to help you do.

On the right sidebar of the front page, there's a syndicated list of the top ten podcasts for this month from the biggest Podcast directory site, Podcast Alley.

Some of my favorite podcasts right now are:
The Global Shortwave Report
Lots of things on Radio4All.net
The Dawn and Drew Show
Geek News Central
Web 2.0 Conference via IT Conversations

I keep a Furl archive catagory (a social bookmarking service) labled "Podcasting Content to Listen To." Feel free to check that out as well.

Search

Search - There is far more to searching for content online than typing in a few search terms on one of the major search engines. Formal studies performed and my own experience working with people indicate that most web searchers vastly under-utilize the power of current search technology. Learning how to use all the features of various search engines best suited to different purposes can dramatically increase your access to information and decrease your time spent searching for what you need.

Some of my favorite search tools right now include:

Clusty.com searches through multiple engines, displays results in subject clusters and provides a live preview window of all sites found.

A9.com Amazon.com's engine searches through multiple different mediums, including the full text of a large number of books sold on Amazon.

Archive.org has many different projects underway, but one of the most useful is the WayBackMachine, an engine that brings up old versions of many web pages online. Perfect for looking behind broken links and viewing the history of different organizations and web sites over the last several years.

OneLook.com is a metadictionary, searching through more than 1,000 subject-area, technical and general interest reference books.

That's just a few of the huge number of developments in the world of search. Automated search is another key tool altogether, and one of the most important. Beyond showing people various web sites, I can help people strategize how and when to use the right ones.


To return to the front page of this blog, click on the big picture at the top.

Social Bookmarking

Social Bookmarking tools are an exciting new way to save, share and find things on the web. They rely heavily on what's called folksonomy, or popular classification, instead of taxonomy, or centralized/official classification.

There are many Social Bookmarking tools available, but the basic premise is that they allow you to save online content (websites, files, etc) to your personal archives, tagged with whatever subject terms or key words you associate with that content. You set up subject folders and can often add your own comments to each bookmark. Most Social Bookmarking tools also make it easy for you to find content that other people have bookmarked, often based on whose archives are similar to yours. Many are entirely web based, which means you can access them from any computer, not just where you've saved things to your hard-drive or personal browser bookmarks.

I never surf the web without my Social Bookmarking account turned on, and now I never have trouble finding things I've read before! I use Furl. There are many different tools now available, but I find that Furl has the most features that I find useful.

Social Bookmarking is a huge new field and one that I am excited to help people learn to use as part of their daily high-powered information gathering practice.

Statement of Purpose

I'm starting a consultancy for the purpose of helping social change organizations, small businesses and individuals learn to use a number of new tools on the internet. I've had my mind blown by the impact of these tools on my research and communication, and I want to share them with others. I also want to make a living doing it along the way. I hope to do paid work with those who can afford to pay me, and thus to sustain work with those who cannot. Finally, I want to help the content and structure of those tools develop in the interests of communities working for more than profit and technology for its own sake. I hope that this blog will be a place of conversation around those methods and goals, as well as a glimpse into the kinds of things I'd like to share with others.

Currently I am working to do trainings and consulting regarding the following web tools:

Search

RSS Syndication

Blogs

Wikis

Social Bookmarking

Podcasting

To return to this blog's front page, click on the big picture at the top.

General Feedback

Monday, March 14, 2005
This entry was created for people to leave general feedback in the comments space. Please feel free to post comments about the site in general, or any specific ideas, services or issues. Thanks for visiting!

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005
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The best way to keep up to speed is by subscribing to my syndicated feed, but if feed reading (definition) is not something you are comfortable with doing yet, you will find the email version very useful.

My Services

Note: I'm working on changing this page to reflect the discussion in this post.


I offer services ranging from training or consulting in the use of any of the individual tools I assist with (see my introduction to concepts) to sessions getting you up to speed on all of them together.

My goals: To help you be one of the people who knows the most about your field, fastest; to make your organization more cohesive and effective; to make your promotional communication less intrusive and more exciting.

See this post to read client feedback.

After some discussion about the work you do and how we might best apply these tools to your current practices, sessions can last from 2 hours to all day or longer. Look over the various tools discussed here and check out the recent articles on the front page of this blog. If you cannot immediately think of how you could apply these concepts to enhance your work, I can probably think of several possibilities that would be exciting for both of us. Send me an email (emailmarshall@gmail.com) and I'll give you a call to discuss it. You can also email me to subscribe to a free email newsletter.

Some of the things I'd most like to do right now: Personal blogs for employment promotion, podcast production, and RSS Radar creation for theme based web sites. (see introduction to concepts if you are unfamiliar with these terms)

Just to give you some idea of how the web-tool consulting and training industry looks, some other people offering similar services include: John Jantsch, Online Strategies, Technical Assistance for Community Services, Full Circle Associates, Radiant Marketing Group, and 5ive.

None of the above offer training in all the tools I do. I haven't found anyone who does.

Many of them also focus on large corporate clients, while I would like to expand the use of these tools outward into other groups. Those of us concerned about the ascendancy of the political Right in the United States need to use these tools so that our work can be done as effectively as possible. They are incredibly useful. The stakes are much higher than whether I make a living doing this or not, so I work on a sliding scale fee. If you aren't thrilled by what I can show you, then my time is at no cost to you. I know that you'll it; these tools will change your work and life immeasurably.

Contact me to discuss possible projects and rates. I can be emailed via emailmarshall@gmail.com