Sage for Firefox: My New Favorite Feed Reader

Since I got my new iBook, I’ve been loading it up with all sorts of cool software, mostly open source. I’m using Firefox as my default web browser, so I decided to give the popular Firefox feed reader extension Sage another try. (I tried Sage with Firefox on my old Windows laptop, but the browser got irreparably screwy after that so I didn’t use it.)

Anyway, Sage with Firefox on the Mac works great. I love it, and it’s now officially my main feed reader. I’m now using it instead of Bloglines for most of my feed reading.

Here’s why…

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PR & Marketing Grab Bag, Dec. 11

Here’s a quick roundup of several items about blogging that caught my interest over the last month or so…

TOP OF THIS LIST: Why Would Companies Buy Bloggers?, by Jeremy C. Wright, Ensight, Nov. 29. This article is brilliant, and it’s motivated me to start actively marketing myself as a blogger-for-hire for the right organization. If your organization is interested in my blogging services, e-mail me. (Thanks to Radiant Marketing for this link.)

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Great Monitor Article on Podcasting

Today’s Christian Science Monitor features ‘Podcast’ your world, an article by Stephen Humphries. It’s a pretty good introduction to the topic, and to the breadth of podcasting, for people who are unfamiliar with that new audio medium.

The article leads with coverage of podcaster Dan Klass, creator of The Bitterest Pill. Media geeks like me might be amused to listen to episode 10, where Klass confesses complete ignorance about the Monitor. (He thought it was perhaps a religious pamphlet.) He made up for that in episode 11, where he tells his audience more about the Monitor’s history than I ever knew. Well done, Dan!

E-Learning Grab Bag, Dec. 8

Here are several items on the general theme of online learning that have caught my attention recently…

TOP OF THIS LIST: Learning in Communities, by Stephen Downes, LearnScope, March 4. This is some of the clearest thinking about online learning that I’ve read in a long time. Excerpts:

“With the discussion and – dare I say it – hype surrounding online courses, learning objects, and other forms of online content, people have to a large degree stopped talking about the idea of the learning community. But they shouldn’t. Learning – even online learning – still occurs for the most part in communities. Students take part in online classes and seminars, they exchange thoughts and ideas in mailing lists and on discussion boards, they work in project teams and work groups. The concepts of learning and community are almost inseparable, even for the self-study student…”

“…There remains a great deal of misunderstanding regarding the role and implementation of online discussion and online communities in online learning. Probably the greatest misapplication of online community lies in the idea that it is an adjunct to, or following from, the creation and design of an online course. This is perhaps most clearly exemplified by the existence in itself of course discussions. In more institutions that I can count, when a course is offered online, the discussion community is created with the first class and disbanded with the last. The community owes its existence to the course, and ends when the course does.”

Brilliant! This should be required reading for everyone in the online learning world. (Thanks to Collaborative Learning Environments for this link.)

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Media & Journalism Grab Bag, Dec. 7

Here are some more items about news, media, and journalism that have caught my interest recently.

TOP OF THIS LIST: BBC bamboozled by spoof site: On Dec. 3, the venerable TV news show BBC World broadcast an interview with Jude Finisterra, who claimed to be a spokesperson for Dow Chemical. The topic was the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. (Several years ago Dow acquired Union Carbide, the company whose plant in Bhopal, India killed thousands and injured more than 100,000 in the world’s worst industrial disaster.) In the interview, Finisterra offered a $12 billion (US) settlement to the 120,000 surviving victims of the Bhopal disaster. Trouble is, Finisterra is a hoaxster – one of the notorious Yes Men. See BBC reputation hit by Bhopal interview hoax, The Guardian, Dec. 4.

How did this happen? According to the Guardian, “…A producer on BBC World had been asked to book a representative from Dow for the 20th anniversary of the disaster. He went to the Dow website, and was directed to the media relations section. Email correspondence and phone calls followed, which resulted in yesterday’s interview with Mr Finisterra from the corporation’s Paris office. It appears that part of the Dow website had been hijacked in a detailed and carefully planned operation.”

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Arranging Ideas Grab Bag, Dec. 7

Here are some items related to the theme of “arranging ideas” (information management, design, and architecture) that have caught my attention recently

TOP OF THIS LIST: InfoYou: Assessing and Addressing Information Overload. Over at Metaforix (one of my favorite blogs), Lois Ambash is developing a new service for coping with information overload. I was one of the pilot-testers for her survey, and I recommend taking it. It’s very interesting!

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Writing, Editing, and Rights Grab Bag, Dec. 7

Here are some items related to writing, editing, content style, and content rights that caught my attention over the last month.

TOP OF THIS LIST: A Kinder, Gentler Copyright Bill? by Katie Dean, Wired News, Nov. 22. On Nov. 20, the US Senate passed S 3021, the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2004. The bill has been passed on to the House of Representatives. S 3021 is a scaled-back version of HR 2391, a far-reaching package of restrictive intellectual property laws.

Internet News also wrote about S 3021 on Nov. 30. They reported: “Gone from previous versions of the omnibus bill are the Pirate Act, the Piracy Deterrence in Education Act and Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R.-Utah) Induce Act. The legislation now primarily focuses on movie piracy in theaters through the use of camcorders and allowing consumers to fast forward past commercials on DVDs and videos.”

The advocacy group Public Knowledge has been watching this issue closely. The consider the scaled-back bill a consumer victory. However, with the way Washington works, expect the egregious provisions to creep back in future bills. So keep watching.

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WordGeek Grab Bag, Dec. 6

Being an incorrigible word geek, I can’t help but share these items…

TOP OF THIS LIST: My new hero is Steven Pinker, a linguist and psychologist (or “cognitive scientist”) from Harvard. About a month ago I picked up his 1994 book The Language Instinct: How the mind creates language just as I was sorting through a thorny style guide revision for a client. I began to see language, and the role of grammar, in an entirely new way. What timing! Pinker’s work helped me puzzle through some tough stylistic issues, which I’ll be writing about later.

All editors should read Pinker’s work! The to-read book pile next to my bed currently features his titles The Blank Slate, How the Mind Works, and Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. In Spring 2005 he’s teaching a course called The Human Mind.

His work is a bit controversial, but controversy is good – it forces you to think for yourself. I like how he thinks so much that I even forgive his occasional lapses into pedantic tongues.

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