<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d11630654\x26blogName\x3dMarshall\x27s+Web+Tool+Blog\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttps://marshallk.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://marshallk.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d7363060930396024679', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

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: Local Harvest

Thursday, April 28, 2005
Just one more great example of a web application being put to good use, LocalHarvest.org let's you search any part of the U.S. for local and organic farms, co-ops, restaurants and CSAs. Pretty impressive. Interesting to see who's listed and who's not. Could be very useful for travelers and people moving to new areas, not to mention certain types of industry specific outreach. I'm impressed.

Technorati Tags:, , , , , ,

A New All Podcast AM Radio Station

Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Interesting story in Wired reports that media giant Viacom is creating a new AM radio station in San Francisco that will play content made up entirely of listener submitted podcasts. This is a great idea, and one that less mega-corporate organizations should consider as well. Already shows like Democracy Now!, the Global Shortwave Report and Bad Cop, No Donut are downloaded as MP3 files by hundreds of radio stations around the world and rebroadcast over the airwaves. How cool would it be to do something similar to Viacom's KYOURadio with a different editorial spin? It would be very cool.

Technorati Tags:,

Podscope: Search For Podcasts

Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Wow. A new search engine called Podscope claims to search the audio files of available podcasts for your search term. The user interface is really nice, you should check it out if you have a portable MP3 player or like to listen to audio on your computer. We'll see what kind of content it indexes, but hopefully it will be very inclusive.

Technorati Tags:, ,

Sample Feed Aggregator Account Created

It's far easier for people to understand how awesome some of these new tools are when they can see them in action. With that in mind, I have set up a demonstration account at Newsgator, my favorite web based feed aggregator. Anyone can go in and use it, user name "marshalldemo" password "welcome". You can get to the login page here. I'll be keeping track of the account and making sure it is well maintained.

I've set it up to pull the feeds of 23 web pages, organized as Political Feeds (government, environmental, Middle East news, and more), Tech & Biz Feeds (including news on using blogs) and Podcast Feeds.

Basically, instead of visiting sites like the New York Times, the National Security Archives, Bush GreenWatch, Baghdad Burning, the US Forest Service, women's' E-News and 17 other sites that might be of interest to you to see if there is anything new there -- you can just open up your aggregator inbox and see all the new items in one place.

Setting up a feed reader and seeding it with feeds is the first step. Learning how to organize it, use it effectively (it's a lot of info), and integrate it with other tools like social bookmarking are further steps that can make the power of your information gathering practices multiply by orders of magnitude... if you know what I mean. I mean using all these tools together will blow your mind and dramatically change your life. So go check out that Newsgator account here: Login user name:"marshalldemo" password "welcome" Click around, see how it works, heck set up your own account and grab my feed. Enjoy!

Technorati Tags: , ,

Business Week on Blogs

Business Week's website just published a long, thorough article about blogs in general and in business specifically. Their colorful introduction to the concept included the following:
"Go ahead and bellyache about blogs. But you cannot afford to close your eyes to them, because they're simply the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself. And they're going to shake up just about every business -- including yours. It doesn't matter whether you're shipping paper clips, pork bellies, or videos of Britney in a bikini, blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone, or delegate. Given the changes barreling down upon us, blogs are not a business elective. They're a prerequisite." (link to full story)

Hardly hyperbole, this paragraph is well fleshed out in the following story that discusses the history of blogs at Blogger, Google, General Motors, Flickr (photo sharing), Technorati, Hoder's blog about Iran, and a bunch of other key players in the business blogosphere. It's a pretty good article to get you up to speed on that milieu.

What may be most amazing about this article is that it drastically understates the potential of all these new web tools! Hopefully someday there will be similar articles to write about blogs in small business and the non-profit world. That's up to you and me, dear readers.

Table of Contents Added

Monday, April 25, 2005
Besides ease of posting, one of the most significant traits of a blog is its chronological nature. In the spirit of introducing people to new tools and concepts, however, I have created a thematic table of contents linked to the right sidebar. On this page I've written a short introduction to each tool above links to each article I've posted about that tool. Any reader may find this useful, but I hope it will make this blog especially readable to folks new to the medium.

Technorati Tags: ,

Introduction to Blogs

Thursday, April 21, 2005
  • Rapid communication
  • Simple to do
  • Lots of advanced features available

Perhaps the most well known new web tool, blogs are web pages that are simple to add new writing to. They are usually organized chronologically and have lots of links. There are tens of millions of blogs online, the biggest blog search engine being Technorati. (Check it out to see what sorts of blogs are being written about your interests.)

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.

Click here to search for articles I've written about blogs.

Podcasting section updated

I just added some content to my Podcasting definition. Specifically, links to some of my favorite podcasts and related stuff. Check it out. Podcasting is one of the easiest of the new web tools to get people excited about, probably because it's easier to explain than say RSS syndication, and because far more people have portable MP3 players than feed aggregators. Hopefully it will be a good starting point to get people comfortable with more and more new web tools. Listening to podcasts sure is fun.

RSS: Using FeedBurner

I just changed this site's feed to go through FeedBurner. It was easy to set up, and now the number of subscribers to my content feed will be kept track of. There should be a bunch of other numbers I can get out of it, too (like which links in my blog are being clicked on), but I'll have to see over the next few days. I'll keep you up to date. So, if you subscribed to the feed before today, please consider grabbing these new feeds on the right sidebar so I can know how many people are reading it. That would be cool.

FeedBurner is an interesting company. I became most familiar with them through catching their feed of the Presidential Weekly Radio Address. The Pres has been spending a lot of time congratulating various football teams lately. Hmmm....all the better I suppose.

If all of this is new to you, check out my definition of feed syndication.

Technorati Tags (click to search for related entries on other blogs), , , ,

Who's Writing About You Online?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Todd the Geek said thanks for the review I wrote of his show (see below) in the most recent episode (MP3 file here) of Geek News Central. (The show is a podcast.) Nothing too in depth, but some honest appreciation for the kind words here and a link on the episode's link list. Cool!

I found out about it via my Technorati "Watch List", a feature available with a free account at Technorati. You simply perform a Technorati search for a web address or search term that you are interested in watching (in this case, my blog address) and select "make this a watch-list." Technorati then continuously scans the blogosphere for that link and I receive notification of new results via RSS (definition.) You can use Technorati even if you don't use RSS yet. Todd the Geek probably found out about the review I wrote using the same tool, or another he has said he uses, called Pubsub.

These are incredible tools that are useful for staying abreast of issues, tracking your reputation, and being present for any conversations online that touch on what you've already written. For example, I've been notified automatically that the following other blogs have also linked to mine, just using Technorati:

Endgadgeted.net again
Daniel Lemire

Pubsub found all the same posts that linked to my blog, except the UO MCC, which surprises me because it is a Blogger (blogspot) blog, Google's hosted system that I would think would be indexed towards the top of the list. Obviously, it makes the most sense to set up accounts with both Pubsub and Technorati. One of the large visions I have of what I want to do for clients is to integrate these services for maximum usefulness, along with a syndicated feed reader (RSS) and a social bookmarking service. Rapid, automatic awareness of what people are writing online about you or your key search terms of interest is a powerful part of a larger research or communications practice. Cutting edge corporations know who is writing about them online instantly, often using these same tools. It's past time for other people to adopt and adapt tools like these.

See also: GoogleAlert does a Google search for your search term every day and emails you if it finds anything new. (RSS also available.) This may be better suited for people or subjects written about more on static web pages than on blogs.

Technorati Tags (click to search these subjects): , , ,

Podcast Review: Geek News Central

Sunday, April 17, 2005
The Geek News Central Podcast is one of my favorite podcasts available. Hosted by a charming man named Todd living in Hawaii, the show is a great mix of personal information about the host and lots of tech and web news. This is already a very successful podcast, as there is almost always sponsorship and the server was recently overloaded with traffic to the site.

It's a great way to stay abreast of new developments in the online world, and lots of fun to listen to. The host is very knowledgeable and respected, often asked to write guest articles on other quality sites. Most shows are about 45 minutes, a bit long, but worth the listen. All conclude with some random, unrelated, but often enjoyable music selected by the host.

Recently, "Todd the Geek" (the host of the show) was approached by a large company to write a blog about their product, for pay. They were willing to pay him a large sum of money on the condition that he not disclose the fact that they were paying him. He refused the offer, has condemned such practices on his show, and now says he's set up a PubSub account to track the company and see if anyone else accepts their offer. He says he'll blow the whistle on them if he can prove it. Just one interesting development on a great site.

Technorati Tags: ,

An Experiment in Fundraising

Thursday, April 14, 2005
Everybody needs to do fundraising work, and in the spirit of experimentation I've set up an account with Dropcash to accept donations towards some hardware for this work I'm doing. I hope it is unobtrusive and effective so that I can recommend it to others (and get a desperately needed new laptop to use!)

Dropcash is a PayPal based service that was set up by web-guru Jason Kotke.

So if you are excited about the info here, maybe you'll kick in some dough towards those ends.

Two Cool Google Tools: Xtra-Google and Soople

Update: XtraGoogle has been taken down, apparently on orders by Google. See this post for discussion.

Google may be annoyingly dominant in the world of search, and other engines may offer important, unique services, but Google cannot be neglected. Two related sites, not affiliated with Google, are now available to help you use Google's advanced search features. Check out Xtra-Google and Soople.

Xtra-Google gives you icons for all the Google features, like Google Scholar (searches academic journals) and Google Video (searches TV transcripts, see also Blinkx, which shows you the clips themselves, but from a smaller number of primarily international TV sources.)

Soople offers boxes for you to fill in instead of having to remember the search syntax for the various Google search types. For example, it is easy to search inside a single website for your search terms using Google, but if you can't remember to type your search as "site:www.washingtonpost.com Nanotechnology -green" then Soople is for you. That's just one example of Google search syntax functions and Soople sets them up in an easy graphic interface.

Google isn't your only option for search, of course. To see a demonstration of what, for example, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves can find that Google can't, check out Jux2. I personally prefer Clusty.

Search is such an incredible field, and it just gets better all the time.

Technorati Tags:,

40% of Surveyed Web Users Read Political Blogs

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
From a new survey done by Harris Interactive:
Two-fifths (44%) of U.S. adults who are online have read a political blog, with more than a quarter (27%) reading them once a month or more. Despite the relatively high proportion of respondents reading political blogs, just seven percent of adults who are online have ever posted a comment on one. Even among those who read political blogs, only 15 percent have posted a comment. These are some of the results of a nationwide online survey of 2,630 U.S. adults who are online, conducted by Harris Interactive(R) between March 8 and14, 2005. ( Press Release)

This appears to support an earlier, widely discussed Pew Survey that found that 62% of all internet users do not know what a blog is. (Pew Center for Internet and Society, "The State of Blogging" January 2005)

Of course there are far more potential uses for blogs than politics, but just as the field was allegedly once dominated by kitten-literature ("mykittenissocuteOMG;)"), hopefully more diverse uses of blogs will increase as well. If you can think of a reason to communicate chronologically online and encourage comments, links and maybe externally generated content streams...you've got a job for a blog.

And apparently you'll have readers, as it is an increasingly familiar medium. See also the following post re Rupert Murdoch on blogs and podcasting.

Technorati Tags:

Rupert Murdoch (Fox) on Blogs and Podcasting

The owner of the creepy Fox TV empire spoke before the American Society of Newspaper Editors earlier today, and this is a key part of what he said:

But our internet site will have to do still more to be competitive. For some, it may have to become the place for conversation. The digital native doesn't send a letter to the editor anymore. She goes online, and starts a blog. We need to be the destination for those bloggers. We need to encourage readers to think of the web as the place to go to engage our reporters and editors in more extended discussions about the way a particular story was reported or researched or presented.

At the same time, we may want to experiment with the concept of using bloggers to supplement our daily coverage of news on the net. There are of course inherent risks in this strategy -- chief among them maintaining our standards for accuracy and reliability. Plainly, we can't vouch for the quality of people who aren't regularly employed by us - and bloggers could only add to the work done by our reporters, not replace them. But they may still serve a valuable purpose; broadening our coverage of the news; giving us new and fresh perspectives to issues; deepening our relationship to the communities we serve. So long as our readers understand the distinction between bloggers and our journalists, and so long as proper safeguards are utilized, this might be an idea worth exploring.

To carry this one step further, some digital natives do even more than blog with text they are blogging with audio, specifically through the rise of podcasting - and to remain fully competitive, some may want to consider providing a place for that as well.
(via Jeff Jarvis's Buzz Machine)

So if the earliest adopters were tech-nerds, and the next round was big biz (still starting) and now the mainstream media is haranguing itself over its slow adoption...I'd say it's time for the rest of us to pick up the pace, no? The "digital natives" rhetoric seems a little creepy, though. So the uber-immigrant wants to make sure his megalopolis is a desirable destination point for the digital natives? Sounds more like colonization than cluetrain.

See also: BBC- US Politicians Embrace Podcasts

Technorati Tags: , , ,

What's in Your Aggregator?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Using any of the various syndication technologies now available to catch the newest headlines from your favorite websites is an incredible way to increase your information absorption capacity. It is a big time saver. And that's just one way to use syndication!

Check out the right sidebar of this blog to see examples of syndicated headline feeds from various other sites automatically updated on my blog. It's a great way to make your website a hub of new information regarding your community's field of interest. The folks at MarketingStudies.net often discuss this type of use for syndicated content. I am currently using the tool available for free at RSS Digest.

For some time now I have wanted to contact various inspirational researchers and ask them "What's in Your Aggregator?" Just like some magazines print short blips on rock stars' CD players, I thought we should do the same thing with syndicated web feeds! To be a good sport, I thought I'd answer the question myself first:

The 5 Newest Feeds in My Aggregator

NevOn (Tech/web)
Thejo/Blog (Tech/web)
Burningbird (feminist programmer and web watcher)
Daniel Lemire's blog (web tech from Seattle) Correction: Daniel Lemire is a proffesor at the University of Quebec who researches multidimensional databases, collaborative filtering, and approximation theory. Oops!

My 5 All Time Favorite Feeds (an impossible choice to make)

Cutting Through (web tool/management consultancy in UK)
Many-to-Many (social networking software)
Radiant Marketing Group (biz blogging)
The A-Infos Radio Project (political radio in MP3 downloads, huge variety)
Aljazeera.Net English (feed url via Feedfire.)

I won't post all the feed urls here, I trust that if you are interested, you can find them yourself. Aljazeera doesn't have RSS feeds, so I burnt one myself.

Right now I've got 157 feeds coming into my Newsgator inbox, so I'll have to post later about my favorite method for making that manageable.

Update: 3 days later and I'm still loving wikalong (see previous post) but it really needs more users!

Technorati Tags: , ,

Exciting New Tool: Wikalong

Saturday, April 09, 2005
Update: As far as I can tell, the function on Wikalong that allows you to see all previous versions of a wiki space is broken. Without this function, Wikalong isn't a functioning wiki. You should be able to change the top draft of a wiki document, but never destroy previous drafts. The entry below is still informative, but I've stopped using Wikalong and will wait until a better service performing the same function arrives.

Wow, the fascinating new tools being developed just don't stop! I've been using Wikalong all afternoon while reading my feeds and I am impressed. It's a program that creates a wiki sidebar beside every web page you visit, so you can easily write commentary, "see also," or who knows what else, and attach it to the sites themselves. You can, of course, see what everyone else has written as well. It is for Firefox primarily, but now there are sidebar and popup versions for non-Firefox browsers here.

Another blogger wrote about this and titled their article, "Wiki the Whole Damn Web" and that's a pretty good way to describe it. As is the case with all wikis, and really all these new tools in general, the nature of the tool itself and the content found on it is going to be determined by who is using it. The idea of "see alsos", reviews, and just generally plugging a page online into the collective knowledge of it's readers is very exciting. Which pages will get wikized, though? Just tech or big biz sites? That would be a bummer. What users will add their knowledge to the sidebars of sites they didn't write? Just techies, maybe academics, who knows? Wouldn't it be preferable to get as broad a group of people commenting on online content as possible?

Wikalong is just starting, it's only several months in existence. But I really hope it, or something like it, flies. And I hope that people with untraditional perspectives and diverse life experiences use it.

Tip: I couldn't find on the site how to logout! So I just went into the preferences menu on wikalong and deleted my name, then I was logged in anonymously after that.

See also: Google Maps mashup with Craig's List Housing Listings
(wow the web is a trip)

Technorati Tags:, , ,

Blog Possibilities

I've been so busy lately I haven't posted here in several days, but I have lots of exciting things going on. I'm working with a political candidate on a blog for her campaign, and that's going well.

Soon I will set up a personal blog for a new college graduate seeking employment in an environmental non-profit group. He's smart, high-energy and a wonderful guy, so I told him he should consider setting up a blog as a "living portfolio" online.

I'll teach him how to use syndicated feeds to keep abreast of the newest news in fields of interest to him, how to archive the news with social bookmarking tools, and then to write up his perspective on the research he's doing on his blog. That way potential employers can find out his interests, perspectives, knowledge level, intelligence and writing skills before even contacting him for an interview. Additionally, if his writings are interesting enough he is liable to establish himself as a good source of news and analysis in the field, thus making fulfilling employment all the more probable. I'm really excited to work with him on it, as this is something I've wanted to do for some time.

A New York Times article on this topic last year in alerted me to the potential of blogs for employment.

"It's a trend on the rise right now," Mr. Gartenberg [industry analyst at JupiterResearch] said, "especially for employers, who get a much better sense of a person this way. Résumés and interviews are a very scripted process; read someone's Web log and you get a good sense of that person's thinking and perspectives."

Alexander C. Halavais, a professor in the School of Informatics at the State University of New York at Buffalo who studies blogs, also expects blogs to play a larger role in the job market. "Right now," Professor Halavais said, "recruiting this way is invisible, it's not institutional yet. But I would be surprised if, fairly soon, we didn't see blogs become a much bigger part of job searching and recruiting," (NY Times, "Need a New Job? Check Out A Blog" October 4, 2004 login:login8 pw:bugmenot via bugmenot.com)

The story goes on to mention that many job seekers are now reading the internal blogs of a company's employees before accepting a job - to see what it's really like to work there.

Obviously this is all going on in a very corporate context, and I'd like to help expand it into the non-profit sector. I'm really excited about it and hope that this is a service I'll provide for lots more people.

Technorati Tags:, , , ,

Definitions Added: Social Bookmarking, Podcasting

Wednesday, April 06, 2005
I just typed up some definitions and thoughts about Social Bookmarking and Podcasting, over on the Definitions section in the right side bar. I also added the syndicated feed for the Top Ten Podcasts of the Month via Podcast Alley. I'm going to do some work with folks soon on both of those subjects, which I'm excited about. It's been fun working with wikis, but I want to make sure I've got some variety in my days!

Technorati Tags:, , ,

Ride Oregon: A Wiki With Tags

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Just discovered a neat new wiki that uses tags, and is about the area I live in! Ride Oregon is a wiki about bike ride routes around the state and they are organized by tags. Using a free, Google Adsense supported service called Schtuff, it seems like a good use of free hosted wiki software. The wiki was designed by an employee of Schtuff's parent company, Jan Rain Inc.

A comparison would be warranted between this free hosted wiki and others, like the folks at Wikispaces (who emailed me last week for thoughts on their wiki), Seedwiki (the one I've used the most), and of course the Wikipedia spin-off, Wikicities. Almost all of these services use Google contextual ads to pay for the free services and I don't mind that a bit. I think it's interesting to see who is bidding on what key words.

Comparative reviews are hard to come by, for some odd reason, so I'll be working on a number of them in the coming weeks. But one has to ask, why are people creating more and more free hosted wiki services? At what point will the market reach saturation? Hopefully there will be a growing demand for more and more wikis in the world (I hope to help lots of people set them up), but considering the advantages of hosting your own wiki with software you have control over (an option admittedly limited to those with good tech skills or support) I hope that all these new wiki companies can support themselves!

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Folksonomy, Tagging and Intranets

Monday, April 04, 2005
Bud Gibson at Community Engine has written a great explanation of the value of allowing users to add their own tags to documents and web pages in the context of a giant intranet. He discusses IBM's intranet system, serving 315,000 users around the world with 3,700 "nodes" (pages, sections?) in multiple languages. He points out that the average person has a working vocabulary of only a few thousand words. Thus, learning to comfortably use 3,700 new ones is totally unrealistic. The best way to facilitate users' recall of pages they have visited in the past is to let them assign classification to those pages that are already meaningful to them. In other words, folksonomy or popular classification, instead of taxonomy or centralized official classification.

That's a big part of the idea behind the new Social Bookmarking tools, but the same concept is also being implemented in many wikis and other systems.

I always say that a big part of searching is conjuring the rhetoric of the writers most likely to have provided the content you seek, but when searching your own archived content there is no reason to repeat that step. Once you've already found something, it only makes sense to make it retrievable afterwards via your own thinking processes.

Technorati Tags (another example!): , , ,

Wiki Manners

Below are some thoughts I wrote up about how to best use a wiki in terms of interpersonal communication. Originally intended as notes to post in the internal wiki of the group I helped last week, I thought they might be of interest as a post here as well.

Keeping Wiki Use Running Smooth

Sign your contributions.

Don’t erase some one else’s contribution.

If you interrupt some one else’s text with an annotation, note or comment – make it clear where your addition starts and ends. Make sure to sign your note.

If you are using a front page table of contents, remember that new comments do not need to be noted in the t.o.c. but new conversations should. (Can be just a text note below the link to the themed page it occurs on.) Taking a minute to leave a record of your contribution will make it more findable, and thus usable, for everyone later.

Files uploaded: this can get confusing if there are lots of different versions on everyone’s computer at home and a different version still on the wiki, so a good way to operate is to say: what’s on the wiki is considered the most current version. If you download it and make changes, upload your version and replace the old one. Don’t rely on the copy on your hard drive, download the newest version from the wiki each time you want to work on or with that file.

Don’t make final decisions on the wiki. Structurally it can work well, but it is inappropriate given peoples’ different levels of comfort using a wiki, frequency checking it, etc. A wiki should be used as support for face to face meetings, not to replace them.

Technorati Tags:

Beyond the White Male Blogosphere

Saturday, April 02, 2005
A debate has been raging for some time over the all too predictable trend for the most powerful, visible bloggers to be white men from the US. That debate is well outlined and followed by short reviews of 14 great looking blogs by people who are not in that group at this post. I highly recommend reading it, and checking out some of the blogs discussed at the end of the article. There's also a healthy chunk of comments afterwards.

Similar rumblings are going on in the world of podcasting. This morning I listened to another great edition of Caribbean Free Radio, hosted by the fantastic Georgia Popplewell. You can listen to it on your computer, or download it onto a portable MP3 player. It's a great example of online content created by folks other than those who dominate mainstream media in the US.

I plan to put a list of my favorite podcasts on the sidebar of this blog, but I'll mention for now that they include The Global Shortwave Report (though not intended as a podcast), The Dawn and Drew Show, many things at IT Conversations and lots at Radio4all.net.

If any readers are interested in help producing, promoting and using podcasting for public or internal organizational purposes, that's a service I intend to offer. Just send me an email.

Technorati Tags: , , ,