Archive forJune, 2010

UMW on iTunesU

-Vodcast tour of campus, because it is pretty
-Vodcast tour of historical Fredericksburg setting
-campus club intros
-performing ensembles (bagpipes, a capella, etc)
-SHH (Students Helping Honduras)

-professor bios
-sample classes
-Education program would be impressive (the program is very strong)
-New Media courses are unique and would merge easily with podcasts
-readings from our Poet Laureate, Claudia Emerson would be prestigious
-Great Lives podcasts would be unique
-Historic Preservation podcasts would be unique
-Literature in Performance presentations would be entertaining
-Debate classes are often recorded anyway
-new Women’s Studies major

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Thing 15: Images/Photos

I get to blog… about internet images?

No, okay, I’ve done enough about animated .gifs. (Almost.) And since you probably already know about Flickr, let me show you the Flickr map, a neat little gadget that gives you a clickable map to browse through. It’s not very expansive, but every photo on the map is a gorgeous representation of its region.

And not unlike Wikipedia, you can get caught up in links that lead to links that lead to links. The map lead me to this picture of New York, which lead me to the sidebar to show the other photos in the set, which also included this cityscape, which reminded me that I love dinosaurs, leading me to search for some more, and I found a t-rex tat, which reminded me that I love tattoos, especially bad ones on other people. All that brought me to this, which is my new favourite picture of the week.

Part of what makes Flickr so strong is the amount of professional work that’s uploaded and shared. Even people who aren’t personally photographers, and maybe even don’t want to share their vacation photos, can participate by browsing and commenting and are motivated to do so by how freaking gorgeous some of the photos are. Not to mention that you never knew you wanted an octopus on your back until just now.

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Thing 13: Forums

(Thanks, Toothpaste for Dinner)

Okay, we get it. Usenet is old. Usenet is actually super old. If internet years were like dog years – and they are – then Usenet could be your grandmother. But the reason we still talk about it is because it started a trend that got incorporated into nearly every aspect of the World Wide Web. As… soon as the World Wide Web was started, anyway. Usenet is actually older than it.

(I know.)

I’ve actually already blogged about several websites that use forum-style threaded conversations. Sick of Livejournal yet? Yes? Too bad. Livejournal’s “comments” section, which are beneath every post in a community or personal journal unless the poster specifically removes that option, open up compressed threads more conveniently when there is reply after reply after reply after reply after… yeah.

And if you clicked on any of those links, you’ll notice that everybody has a little icon by their username which is 100 pixels by 100 pixels. Even in the more traditional boards, these are pretty common – although they’re often 75×75 or even 50×50. DeviantArt makes great use of their message boards, especially the ones that show up underneath every individual piece of artwork. This is great for people to leave constructive feedback or even just a compliment, although they do tend to get mired down in a plethora of winking faces and other emoticons.

And, actually, can we talk about these things for a second? These little happy faces and banging-their-head-against-the-keyboard-faces and the flirty kissy faces? Because they are tacky. They have been tacky. 1996 is a long time ago, now, and we have moved on to better things like image macros and animated gifs to make our point if words are not enough. Into the future, people! Class up these forums, wherever they might be!

And seriously. No more emoticon images.

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Thing 12: Data Clouds

Huge files are a pain to work on. I’ve got a manuscript I’m editing right now, and it’s over 200 pages – how am I supposed to finish this, let alone at one computer?

Enter the cloud. Shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand to your computer, handheld device, whatever you need it on. What does this mean? It means the cloud loves you. The cloud *is* love. The cloud wants you to be able to work on your project from any computer, without having to email new versions to yourself over and over. The cloud wants you to have that Lady Gaga mp3 anywhere you go. The cloud wants you to be happy. (And to dance to Lady Gaga.)

It’s not just a glorified flash drive, either – some endless capacity. You can use the cloud to only have secret files that only you can access, or you can change the privacy settings of a file (or several files) so that they can be read or also worked on by the people you choose. That means that this isn’t just convenient for you, it’s convenient for any group you collaborate with for school, for work, whatever. Google Docs is a great place to start if you’re still not sure what it’s all about. If you don’t like the layout, or you want to try something else, don’t worry – there are lots of other cloud sites that do just as much if not more for you, but it’s hard to find a better price than free, especially when your starting storage is so generous. And when I’m done with Google Docs, I can go right up to the bar at the top and click over to my email. And right back. Perfect.

(The cloud does love me.)

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Thing 11: RSS

(Thanks, ByteLove)

When I first started Livejournal, people explained the site as a blog website with “friends page” that was like an RSS feed for your buddies. I had no idea what that meant, but I knew that it was an online thing I could use to keep in touch with friends that had already (gasp) graduated high school. So why not use it?

Turns out RSS feeds are actually pretty useful, even though I’ve only just begun using them (and, actually, incorporated them into my livejournal friends list.) I hadn’t even been paying attention, but it’s what added writer/creator Warren Ellis to my list, as well as the comparatively mild Questionable Content for all my hipster comic needs. It’s also useful for friends who have moved to other blogging sites (like the DreamWidth beta, for one) that I want to keep up with. In that way Livejournal allows me to post my own content and have a one-stop-page to check my other LJ friends, non-LJ friends, and non-friends. (I would call Warren Ellis my friend except I have never met him and he scares me.)

But what about an actual legitimate RSS reader? I just went to Google’s, suspecting that I wouldn’t even have to register, and I was right. Since I already have a Gmaila account, I just entered in my username and password for that, and bam! I had my own Reader. Not only that, it was suggesting five people that I might want to ‘follow’. How did it know? Because those five people are on my Gchat in Gmail. Interconnected much?

But actually, what do I need to put in this thing? I’ve got Livejournal for friends’ blogs, and I’ve got Facebook for friends’… faceposts. And each of those is already a little interwoven with the blogosphere, pulling in a few internet celebrities and webcomics here and there. Maybe Google Reader would be a more comprehensive hub for non-friend stuff. Maybe it would be redundant. Upon checking, I could use it to check in on my livejournal communities. Okay, that’s definitely recursive. Hmm. Well, at least I can plug in a few news sites that I’ve been meaning to keep up with but always forget about. That could be a…

…wait, Helen Thomas retired indefinitely?

Okay, I found a use for this.

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Thing 10: Tagging

As I look at the tag cloud right now, which sits nicely in the upper left hand corner of this very blog, there are three phrases which are biggest, indicating they are the most used:

-terrible people

Two of those are kind of redundant, I guess, but it’s terrible people that surprised me. Clicking on it, I realized I used that tag both for talking about Facebook execs and for for Andrew Wakefield. Well, that makes sense. And since I have fewer than a dozen posts, something used twice would be biggest. As the blog grows, those words will probably shrink to medium size as other stuff comes along. (Comics will probably stay big. I work comics into my blog posts as often as possible.)

I stopped using back when it was, well,, and I can’t even remember why. Since then my biggest tagging experiences have been when I finally broke down and started using them on my personal journal. Livejournal had just added the feature a couple months ago, and it helps if I’m trying to find a link, story, or conversation that happened more than three weeks ago. My sense of time is vague at best. It’s way better to click through a list of concepts like “university”, “family”, “writing”, “awkward turtle” than trying to remember if that thing that happened a month to three months ago was on a Thursday? Maybe? Or a Friday? Something ending in day.

I’ve got 108 tags on that journal now, and while it sounds out of control, about 3/4 of them are for writing. I found that if I tagged stories I wrote with the genre and all the characters, I could go back later and search by character to see how much I’d written on somebody and what was missing. Excellent.

What I really admire, though, is a community called ONTD_Political. The name comes from an earlier community called Oh No They Didn’t, or ONTD for short, which posts tabloid-like stories about celebrities. ONTD_Political isn’t completely the same in that it’s not scandal-based, but rather globally focused and concentrates on, well, everything.

How do they organize it all, you ask? By tagging religiously. There are, at current count, 1,097 tags that the poster can employ, often using several at a time for one news article. Immigration has 133 uses. The RNC has 32. Zimbabwe has 19.

And this is a community where I have seen some hardcore tag enthusiasts. A recent Malawi couple’s story became the source for a lot of empathy and sadness, but also lividness as the community commented that not only was the general media misidentifying a transgendered woman as a gay man, but that ONTD_P itself was . Who knew internet tagging could get so political?

Signing out, and double-checking my tags before I publish.

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Blog Post 9: Videos

Videos are amazing. And while we usually think of online videos as both Youtube and amateur, it’s important to remember that television stations and music artists are learning to use Youtube as well, making their own official channels to show previews of upcoming episodes and putting up official versions of music videos. (And in both cases, you can subscribe to the posters (BBC or Island Records) which will keep you updated on what’s new and be reliably high-quality and relevant, as opposed to individuals who upload miscellaneous videos and might not be worth checking up on on a regular basis.

Youtube is also great for seeing content that was, say, only aired in Japan. Did you ever think about how much you wanted to see Wolverine drink iced tea and then dance? You probably didn’t, but now that I’ve told you it exists you know you want to see it.

Independent movies can use the Youtubes for creating buzz, putting up trailers when they might not be able to afford tv advertising. Up-and-coming comedians are benefiting too; it’s as competitive as the music scene, so being to show a potential venue that your stuff has been well-received before is helpful. (So’s the hit count.)

Of course there’s all the copyrighted content as well, but what can get interesting is the derivative stuff that people have created out of already-existing films and television. As much as Youtube has a reputation for being a time-killer or full of dogs on skateboards, there’s useful stuff as well. We can’t forget the educational stuff, and even examples of why we shouldn’t let magazines make us feel bad.

And if you still need convincing that Youtube is worth all the rubbish that gets posted in those 9,000 hours that’s uploaded per day… perhaps a laughing baby will convince you.

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