Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

Animoto – the end of slideshows

04/15/2009 1 comment

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animoto – the end of slideshows.

This sleek little app mixes your photos and music to form a 30 second video.  The fun part is how the app analyzes the music and images to generate professional looking effects and editing.  For most this is just a fun toy, but I see it as a creative possibility for classwork.

Maybe in a library marketing, management, or instruction course you could have the students make a 30 second video to get their message across.  This process helps them see how important identifying the message is versus how you express it.  The easy ability to publish and share the videos makes it perfect for a portfolio or classroom exhibition.


My first effort is not that interesting but merely shows you how easy this really is.  (Estimated time from start to posting: 4 mins.) Do that without Animoto and tell me how long it takes.


Cuil or still a bit tepid?

A new competitor for Google was released in the form of Cuil. Based on work by two ex-Google employees, this search engine’s philosophy is touted as;

Cuil’s goal is to solve the two great problems of search: how to index the whole Internet—not just part of it—and how to analyze and sort out its pages so you get relevant results.

An interesting concept but will the indexing actually help you find what you really “need.” The overall look has a much more modern feel, but just because the container is sleek does not guarantee that the content will be worth it.

The search results page is pleasing to the eye as well and after a short time getting un-Google-fied the multiple avenues of a search progression can start to take shape. I enjoyed how alternate suggestions for the base search were made into tabs above the results. I also liked the concept of the “drill down” box, but the actual interface was a bit too touchy. Maybe they will add other ways to expand and contract the information in later releases.

The results are fairly comparable to Google though there seems to be far fewer unconnected results. (The goal I suppose.) I feel a bit let down by seeing over a million results for my name, but only about 20 links to follow. Perhaps a slight redesign to that display would be in order.

I can’t say I will be switching from the big G but I am going to keep an eye on Cuil.

Extra: I also wanted to point out that I smiled pleasantly after reading this snippet from their site about the reason they chose the Gaelic word Cuil:

Tom Costello, our founder and CEO, comes from Ireland, a country with a rich mythology around the quest for wisdom. Cuil is the Gaelic word for both knowledge and hazel, and features prominently in ancient legend. One famous story tells of a salmon that ate nine hazelnuts that had fallen into the Fountain of Wisdom and thereby gained all the knowledge in the world. Whoever ate the salmon would acquire this knowledge.

A famous poet fished for many years on the River Boyne hoping to catch the Salmon of Knowledge. When he finally caught it, he gave it to his young apprentice Finn McCuil to prepare, warning him not to eat any. As Finn cooked the salmon he burnt his thumb and instinctively sucked it to ease the pain. And so it was Finn and not the poet who gained all the wisdom of the world. Finn went on to become one of the great heroes of Irish folklore. Any time he needed to know the answer to a question, he sucked his thumb.

As a child Tom poached salmon from the same spot on the Boyne where it is said the Salmon of Knowledge was caught.

I am not sure whether to be inspired by this or nervous about the implications of divine inspiration. Granted I have long been an admirer of the Celtic mythological tales. 🙂

Change is Scary

Gear Changer

On June 3rd 2008 Encyclopedia Britannica announced their new vision for their online encyclopedia. Though many comments have centered around how Britannica has collapsed under the pressure of WIkipedia’s fame, I don’t believe this movement towards a more expansive reference tool is equivalent to the Wikipedia model. Taken from their announcement post:

These efforts not only will improve the scope and quality of Encyclopaedia Britannica, but they’ll also allow expert contributors and readers to supplement this content with their own. The result will be a place with broader and more relevant coverage for information seekers and a welcoming community for scholars, experts, and lay contributors.

One of the main fears, that countless voices echo, is that Wikipedia is unverified drivel created by vandals and impish recluses.  The more immediate truth is that Wikipedia has grown from a volatile collection of obscure popular culture facts to a burgeoning model of how dynamic information creation can be. The community of editors have brokered for more control over substantial articles and have reduced the opportunities for article vandalism to a near minimal concern. But yet many educators pan its possibilities by citing the established comfort of traditional resources. Then this change was introduced.

The interesting thing is that Britannica isn’t suggesting that they jettison their core of scholarly knowledge and replace it with “Joe Public’s” views on the British monarchy. Instead they are inviting scholars and experts in the field to contribute to their content and supplement the communal resource with their own work. From what I could ascertain from the original announcement, lay users would have contribution rights to a connected aspect of the “core” knowledge base. This means that they most probably wouldn’t be able to edit the main entries but would possibly have their own work and commentary be associated with related topics. Though this may not seem like a lucrative endeavor, the ability to have your work be dispersed into the scholarly community could help new authors gain a foothold into their academic endeavors via this new peer review outlet.

The one thing that concerns me is that under the proposed model there is the possibility that each user could be editing existing content, which then becomes a new piece of content separate from the original in some manner. The concept of thousands of slightly altered versions of one piece of information seems rather unnerving to me. Hopefully they can iron out these types of concepts before the full release.

For another model similar to this you may want to check out an earlier posting entitled:

Knol’s Fair in Love and Wiki’s

User Feedback Model from Starbucks

java is good

Michael from Tame the Web posted his thoughts on the new Starbucks user driven idea site.  Basically users can share their ideas for more effective services and products, vote on other people’s ideas, and see the results made by the company.  This is done in one site, and seems to have a general turn around time of 1 week or less.

For those of us who have seen good ideas in libraries get swamped under the mountains of bureaucratic posturing, all to often found in libraries, wouldn’t it be nice to utilize a system such as this to gather external, expedient information?  The ability for the user to be a part of their own environment gathers their trust in the library and can then lead to a stronger connection for future needs. Though there is a growing concern for students having too much sway in their educational practices, I think implementing something like this could transform many stagnant areas of library services. (But not all, as I would hate to leave things such as collection development and circulation policies hinging primarily on student feedback alone.)

I may be putting this on my plate soon, as this is a form of assessment and planning.  We shall see.

Social Media in Plain English

06/05/2008 1 comment

Thanks to Cliff for sharing this with me. The group over at CommonCraft have done it once again with their original and informative manner of explaining concepts. (You may remember them from their other popular video, “RSS in Plain English.”)

I may have seen a library who tried to mimic this style of presentation for some of their library instruction videos. Making the message simple doesn’t have to be tied to this form, as making your point in a clear and understandable way is the key to effective communication. Metaphors and allegories work too.

Knowing who you are

05/08/2008 1 comment

While searching for information about new ways to log virtual reference chat sessions, I stumbled upon a new concept in user to service interactions. APML or Attention Profiling Markup Language, is a Web 2.0 driven standard meant to allow you as the user to “inform” the system you wish to use, of the types of things you would be interested in. (In theory.)

What if a library catalog supported this type of language? Imagine uploading your “profile” into the catalog search and being presented with related topics and collections of resources that you may find interesting. Yes this may rely more on the machine and preordained associations, but doesn’t the APML feel a bit like LCSH.  Maybe that is a jump, but as libraries search for ways to make their services adapt to the user while still maintaining some structure; is there a way for us to explore this new concept?

Flickr takes a Picnik

From ETC. blog:

Flickr to partner with Picnik to provide more robust photo editing capabilities.  This sounds like a win/win endeavor to me.

If you haven’t heard of Picnik check out one of my earlier blog postings on just that topic.