Tools Grab Bag, Oct. 31

Here are some cool tools that I wanted to tell you about…

TOP OF THIS LIST: NewsGator Online is now free. I know several people who use and love Newsgator, a service that bundles an online feed reader with other neat features and integrates with Microsoft Outlook. I’m not a Microsoft person, so I haven’t been inclined to pay for NewsGator so far. However, now that the online version is free, I might give it a try. I’ll see if it gives Bloglines a run for the money.

Here’s how Newsgator Online describes itself: “[This offering] allows subscribers to access their RSS feeds through multiple platforms and devices, and also provides unique ‘smart feed’ capabilities as well as a large number of premium feeds available exclusively through NewsGator.”

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Podcasting Grab Bag, Oct. 31

I recently started writing about a new way to distribute audio content online called podcasting. Here are some more items related to this emerging field that have caught my interest.

TOP OF THIS LIST: It’s a tie:
Podcasting: Not Ready for Prime Time
(by John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine, Oct. 25) and John C. Dvorak Trashes Podcasting and IT Conversations (by Doug Kaye Blogarithms, Oct. 25).

First, Dvorak gave podcasting a hard time for poor usability. OK, I can see that. Podcasting is currently in its infancy and so it’s kind of a technical hack – not suitable for people who can’t handle anything more involved than point-and-click or plug-and-play (which is, let’s be honest, most people on the net and elsewhere). For that matter, webfeeds are still more geeky than they should be in order to be widely adopted. It’s how the techno-game goes.

Outraged by Dvorak’s review (which highlighted flaws Dvorak perceived in Kaye’s podcast IT Conversations), Kaye responded that Dvorak missed the point. He wrote:

“Podcasting isn’t about the HTML interface. It’s about the RSS feeds and the transparent (i.e., no UI) transfer of audio files directly to players. Did Dvorak use one of the many fine podcatching (receiving) utilities, even one for Windows? No.”

…Ahem… Sorry, guys, but you BOTH missed the point! When it comes to podcasting, IT’S THE CONTENT, STUPID! This new media channel allows more people to have more access to more types of audio content from more sources than ever before, on demand. That’s what matters most. We’ll hash out the technical issues as we go, but for now please don’t lose sight of the big picture.

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Webfeeds Grab Bag, Oct. 31

Here’s a collection of items related to webfeeds that have caught my attention lately.

TOP OF THIS LIST: A culture of feeds: syndication and youth culture, Apophenia, Oct. 10. Danah Boyd cuts through some of the webfeed hype. Excerpt: “Sitting in at Web2.0 for 20 seconds, I was intrigued by the ongoing hype of RSS. …For this audience, I think that it is certainly true. But I’m wondering if that’s really true beyond the info-nerds.”

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Blogging Grab Bag, Oct. 31

Here’s a collection of items on the topic of blogging that have caught my interest lately.

TOP OF THIS LIST: Coca-Cola Internal Marketing Blog Leaks Out, MicroPersuasion, Oct. 8. Steve Rubel caught an amusing gaffe – apparently Coca-Cola’s marketers didn’t realize the blog they created was public. At least, not until Steve mentioned it publicly. Heh heh heh …

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Wiki Grab Bag, Oct. 31

This is a collection of wiki-related items which have caught my attention recently.

TOP OF THIS LIST: Journalism’s Future May Be Wikipedia, by Peter Tupper, The Tyee, Oct. 22. Excerpt: “Wikipedia.org, an online hypertext encyclopedia to which anybody can add and edit information, could be the future of journalism. Wikipedia is not only a reference work, it also makes a pretty good newspaper.” (Thanks to Crawford Kilian for this link.)

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Net & Society Grab Bag, Oct. 31

This is an assortment of items that demonstrate how the internet is affecting or reflecting society – including free speech issues.

TOP OF THIS LIST: My FactCheck.org RSS Project, NetNerds, Oct. 23. One of the few pleasures I’ve found in this election is FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

However, as I’ve written earlier, FactCheck has had some difficulty getting its technical act together. One notable oversight there is FackCheck’s lack of webfeeds. Well, NetNerd has scraped a pretty good FactCheck.org webfeed. Thanks!

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Media & Journalism Grab Bag, Oct. 31

Here are some items on the theme of media, news, and journalism that I’ve been meaning to write about. There’s some inevtiable overlap between this list and my blogging grab bag. I’ve just made some gut-level judgement calls about which category best suits each item.

TOP OF THIS LIST: From Pull to Point: How to Save The Economist and The Journal from Irrelevance, by John Battelle, Searchblog, Oct. 11. Excerpt: “Why, I wondered, were these two august bastions of journalism falling off my reading list? …Both require paid subscriptions, and therefore, both do not support deep linking. In other words, both are nearly impossible to find if you get your daily dose of news, analysis and opinion from the blogosphere.”

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E-Learning Grab Bag, Oct. 31

Here’s a few items that have recently caught my attention on the theme of e-learning:

TOP OF THIS LIST: Categories of eLearning, eLearnSpace, Oct. 18. Whenever I tell people that I’ve gotten involved in the e-learning field, most of them give me a blank stare – or think I’m only referring to college courses that you can take online. This excellent primer by George Siemens describes and differentiates each of the main types of e-learning. (Thanks to Ruminators’ ILK for this link.)

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What Is Podcasting and Why Should You Care?

(UPDATE: Here are the basics in how to receive and listen to podcasts.)

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve recently discovered a very intriguing new online media channel. The good news is that I think it holds considerable promise for creative, diverse, and useful audio programming that can serve a wide variety of audiences and purposes. The bad news is that it’s saddled with a rather unfortunate name: podcasting.

(Brief aside: I know some very smart and talented pioneers like Adam Curry and Dave Winer are already attached to the term “podcasting.” I truly don’t wish to demean them or their valuable contributions to this emerging medium. However, the reality is that to average non-geeks, “podcasting” sounds dreadfully geeky and faddish, as well as potentially exclusive to the overhyped and overpriced Apple iPod. All of that is misleading. OK, enough said on the name issue for now.)

Let me explain a bit about what podcasting is, how to use it, and why I think it’s pretty important…

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