Topic 15: Image Sharing

June 15th, 2010

The last topic is all about image sharing, but I want to focus especially on Flickr, because it is such a great tool. I had never thought of of using it myself until I learned about everything it has to offer on the Magical Feature Tour ( http://www.flickr.com/tour/ ).

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1279/1294220292_0c980ff96b.jpg

First of all, there are several different ways through which you can upload photos: the Flickr Uploadr, iPhoto, Aperture, Windows XP plugins, the Flickr upload web page, email, and other third party desktop programs. If you want to edit your pictures, you have a variety of options to choose from, including eliminating red eye, photo cropping, adding different effects, etc.

Once you’ve got your pictures the way you want them you can then organize them into sets of photos centered around specific themes. You can divide them up into favorites photos of your pet, albums of family trips, etc. You can further organize them by grouping sets together to make collections. Collections can be made up of sets from a specific year, summer vacations, and so on. Not only is it nice way to give every photo a place, it also makes it easy to perform tasks – like tagging – on a bunch of photos at once. Flickr also provides a map that you can use to pinpoint the location at which each photo was taken – a great tool for globe trekkers who want to document their travels.

Flickr makes it easy to share pictures with family, friends, or other people with similar interests. You can join or even create a new group based on a specific interest, such as small dogs or weddings. Flickr has public as well as private groups, and allows members to share their photos and discuss them. In this way, Flickr doubles as a social network, building communities based on image sharing. Flickr also gives you a variety of ways to share your pictures in person. You can make several things including prints, posters, cards, photobooks, calendars, collages and canvases to give to your friends and family.

See the kinds of groups found in the Flickr community here:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/

And you can explore various photo galleries here:

http://www.flickr.com/galleries/

Topic 14: Awareness Tools

June 14th, 2010

Internet users are getting more and more interested in social news sites as they lead us into a “user-driven democracy.”  However, this new way of circulating information has its consequences as well. Digg.com, for example, has recently been receiving some criticism for allowing users to have so much influence in how information is spread. Wikipedia says “it has allowed sensationalism and misinformation to thrive” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digg  ). There have been instances of very misleading headlines, such as the example below ( http://web.archive.org/web/20070809235643/http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2007/2/14/131127/709  )

Headline: Nintendo News | GameCube Finally Dies

Summary: Nintendo GameCube is dead, in Taiwan anyway. The official distributor of Nintendo’s purple cube in the country has announced that it’ll stop selling the machine there with only 1,000 units being ordered in 2006 alone. Future orders will only be made if demand increases.

I can only imagine the panic that ensued in everywhere else but Taiwan as gamers believed the GameCube to be dead, lol.

Here’s another example of a completely misleading headline and summary combo:

Headline: Women gives birth, wakes up without arms or legs

Summary: A young lady goes to the hospital to give birth and wakes up without arms or legs. The hospital refuses to explain why they left her as a multiple amputee. In a letter, they wrote that she would have to sue them to find out what happened. She can’t even carry her newborn child. Help bring attention and digg it up, please.

Apparently, almost two weeks had passed between the birth and the amputation, so she did not simply pop out a baby and then wake up limbless. Also, the hospital did explain why the amputation was necessary – she had toxic shock syndrome.

Image credits: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/105/285817854_8a5cf2961f.jpg

Topic: E-Patients

June 10th, 2010

“According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 61 percent of American adults looked online for health information in 2009, up from 46 percent in 2000” (  http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/06/07/pho.empowered.patient/index.html?iref=allsearch ). This has lead to a growing trend of participatory medicine, where patients are becoming more and more influential in the decisions made regarding their healthcare.

Some areas in which our current system fails include: long delays in diagnosis, unnecessary treatments, lack of research funding, sub-optimal care and, and a general lack of guidelines. Having an open source of medical information on the internet allows e-patients and their caregivers to help overcome these obstacles. Often, patients vigorously research their symptoms before even reaching the exam room ( http://e-patients.net/archives/2010/06/why-a-patient-2-0-panel-at-the-health-2-0-dc-conference.html#more-6107 ).

E-patients are using resources such as blogs, forums, online healthcare providers, and others. WebMD has received a lot of attention as an online healthcare provider, because it provides “award-winning expertise in medicine, journalism, health communication and content creation” ( http://www.webmd.com/about-webmd-policies/default.htm?ss=ftr ).

Participatory medicine  has the potential to change the healthcare system as we know it. At the moment, doctors seem supportive of this trend, acknowledging that it benefits patients in ways they cannot. However, doctors are offered little incentive to join in because they are pushed by insurers to help patients in the hospital rather than on the internet. For our current healthcare system to become more e-patient friendly, changes may have to start with insurers. If they push doctors to expand their definition of patient care to include participatory medicine, then we might see a revolution in the healthcare system ( http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/06/07/pho.empowered.patient/index.html?iref=allsearch ).

Topic 12: Sharing Documents

June 9th, 2010

When Professor Ackermann used the presentation he found on Slideshare.net, I was very intrigued by what Slideshare has to offer. Wikipedia says the most popular slide hosting services on the web include Slideshare, MyPick, Slideboom, and SlideServe (  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slide_hosting_services ). According to Slideshare’s website, it is the “world’s largest community for sharing presentations” ( http://www.slideshare.net/about  ). It seems to be mainly a business site serving a professional userbase, but it is also used for educational and fun purposes. Its content can also be shared through social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The main idea behind Slideshare is providing a venue for people to put their ideas out there for the world to see (in ppt form). As students about to start our careers, I think posting presentations of works that we are proud of is a good way to enhance our portfolios. It’s just another way to make business contacts worldwide.

This is a great tool not only for young professionals who want to make business contacts, but also young entrepreneurs who want to get the word out about their product/services. Slideshare has this tool called Leadshare (http://www.slideshare.net/business/leadshare  ) that allows entrepreneurs to gather contact information from the people who view their presentations, pdfs, webinairs, or eBooks. Each contact could potentially be a prospective client, and the variety of users is vast. Leadshare lists small localised businesses, multinational Fortune 500 companies, freelancers, consultants, non profits, educational isntitutions, and others as members of their userbase. Leadshare offers a list of best practices, including how to target the right audience, in the right geographical locations, how to ask the right questions, and how to measure your performance.

Topic 11: RSS

June 8th, 2010

To be honest, I am already feeling a little bombarded with all of the information I try to consume online. My inbox is overflowing with all types of emails from newsletters I have subscribed to, from business articles to do-it-yourself home repair tips. My bookmarks list is stuffed with pages that I needed once that I am too afraid to get rid of. I’ve become a virtual packrat, and I’m afraid that using RSS feeds may ultimately just support the habit.

However, I’ve decided to try it out, only subscribing to RSSs that will actually make my life simpler rather than more confused. Maybe you’ll find the ones I have chosen worthwhile as well.  The first RSS feed I want belongs to Orbitz ( http://www.orbitz.com/App/ViewRSSHelpPage  ). I can choose the deal category that I want and keep track of only those. This is great for me because my Dad often flies down from Detroit to visit us, but I never find really good deals because I am never think about it far enough in advance.

Another good RSS feed to subscribe to is for Craigslist ( http://www.craigslist.org/about/rss  ). God I love Craigslist! Cheap furniture, new roomates or whatever you could possibly need is probably on Craigslist. Unfortunately, the way people post ads can sometimes be misleading or just ineffective, forcing desperate homeless students to check in every half hour for new ads. An RSS feed probably would have helped decrease the emotional stress for me caused by staring at the Craigslist website all day.

The last RSS feed that I want to add helps me get deals on all the things I can’t get on craigslist – DealCatcher ( http://www.dealcatcher.com/  ). Sometimes extremely important occasions like your birthday just aren’t enough of a reason for your parents to express their love with a new laptop. They are just going to say no and forget about it, so you have to searching for awesome deals until you find one that one they like. OR, subscribe to such a website and let the RSS do the work for you.

Topic 10: Tagging

June 4th, 2010

If you are trying to maintain your own blog or website, tagging may seem like a hassle that you don’t want to bother with. However, it has its advantages. Not only does it provide some visual interest, you can use tags in combination with categories to improve the arrangement of your blog content. What is the advantage of including tags into the organization of the information on your blog? Well, if you are writing a blog with a consistent theme such as giving tips for traveling then you could use categories and tags to deal with the crossover of information from each post. Your categories may include topics like skiing, adventure travel, and family travel. A post entitled “Skiing in Vail” would be under the skiing category, but could also be tagged as Colorado. A post called “White Water Rafting” could be under the adventure travel and/or family travel categories, and both could be tagged as Colorado as well. This way you have given the reader the option of searching by location or by activity in a more organized way ( http://www.wolf-howl.com/blogs/how-to-use-tagging/ ).

You can even organize the content on your Twitter page with tags. You can use hash tags to tag a phrase rather than a single word to better describe the related information. This will also make your content easier to find for people who enter more descriptive key-phrases to find info with a search engine ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_%28metadata%29  ). For good instructions on how to incorporate tags into the organization of your blog or website content, check out this article on SearchEngineWatch.com:

http://searchenginewatch.com/2167931

Topic 9: Videos

June 3rd, 2010

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/53/161816383_3f13468dbb_o.jpg

When I was young the only Indian movies that I had access to were located at the local Indian grocery store. And of course, these movies all dated back to 1985 or earlier, so I could never convince my parents that they were worth sitting through. Now, I am presented with the option to watch a Indian film any time I watch a free movie online. Popular sources of free movie streaming such as Movies-Links.tv and YouTube.com/movies have categories or tags specifically for Hindi films, and OnlineWatchMovies.net has 8 different categories of Indian films.

It is the ease of access to these films has most likely increased their popularity despite linguistic and cultural barriers they present to the average internet movie streamer. The allure of an exotic culture and the comical melodrama stereotypical of Bollywood entertainment have given Indian films a unique niche in online media. It is not just the kitschy films that are getting attention, either. The amusing music video for a catchy song called “Tunak Tunak Tun” by  Daler Mendhi went viral while I was in highschool.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bAN7Ts0xBo

Before I could even become acquainted with it through Indian friends and family, it was sent to me in an email by one of my video junkie friends. The jolly Punjab’s smile is  contagious when you see him dance with  all of his friendly clones from outer space. Another Indian music video that went viral was dubbed the name “Benny Lava” (who knows what it’s really called). This cheesy video has been coupled with a ridiculous transcription of what the lyrics could sound like to the ordinary English speaker.

Topic 8: Podcasts

June 2nd, 2010

For those of us who are a little too impatient to sit down and read a newspaper – printed or online – podcasts can be a good alternative source of information or entertainment. I like listening to podcasts because it is as effortless as listening to the radio. I never give myself enough time in the morning to eat breakfast, let alone read a newspaper. I also make a habit of walking to class rather than driving, so I do not have the opportunity to listen to the radio. Even if I could listen to the radio, I tend to miss parts of a program because they are not suited to my schedule. What could be better than being able to pause your favorite radio program when you get to class and finish it right after? And once you get used to not having to deal with annoying commercials, you may never want to listen to traditional radio shows again.

With podcasts you can listen to pretty much whatever tickles your fancy. I can listen to anything from last Sunday’s sermon to the latest remixes from my dj friend. The endless variety of radio programs to listen to makes it interesting to people of all ages and backgrounds. My Dad listens regularly to his favorite political podcast programs, but would never have started using podcasts on his own. He thought the only way to hear all of his favorite political show was to leave early for work and sit in his parked car until the show ended. Rather than let his running engine emit enough green house gases to singlehandedly destroy our atmosphere over the years, I download the show for him. It’s as simple as that!

You can listen to The Digital Beats Podcast (the one hosted by my friend) at       http://www.dj-siren.com/

Or, check out these links to find popular podcasts:

Cool Podcasts        http://coolpodcasts.wordpress.com/category/popular-podcast/

Find Podcasts        http://www.findpodcasts.com/popular.html

Topic 7: Virtual Worlds

June 1st, 2010

Virtual worlds are not just for fun, they are also apparently very useful for business purposes.  For example, Second Life offers a virtual world for companies to hold meetings, brainstorm, and make decisions. Communicating through avatars rather than through face-to-face interactions is supposed to give members an experience that is adventurous and productive at the same time. During meetings, employees can conduct power point presentations just as they would in a real-life setting, but with avatars that say whatever they command them to say.  After a meeting, members can unwind by taking advantage of the various amenities included in the virtual world, such as ice skating or clubbing ( http://dssresources.com/faq/index.php?action=artikel&id=139 ).

The sense of community formed in the virtual experience mimics that of a real-life company conference and retreat. However, it offers a whole new dimension to the pre-existing company dynamics. Members are brought into a new world and given a new identity through their avatar. Living vicariously through their avatars could inspire them to come out of their shell more and try new things. Employees may be more likely to take on more imaginative approaches to their run-of-the-mill meetings as well as renew their interest and commitment to their jobs.

Personally, I was very turned off at first by the idea of conducting business virtually rather than organically. I find face-to-face interaction more stimulating than communicating with another person’s avatar. However, I can see how this fad can bring new life to a management team. Besides this, it is more convenient for employees who would otherwise have to commute long distances to work. A virtual world also offers members an opportunity to spend time with their colleagues outside of work and gives them something to bond over.

To get a summary of the benefits of a virtual experience for companies, check out this virtual world video:

To see what Second Life in particular offers for businesses, go to: http://secondlifegrid.net/

Topic 6: Evaluating Resources

May 26th, 2010

Nowadays you are not limited to costly databases like Lexis Nexis or Academic Search Complete to find reliable resources on the internet. You can find lost of good information for free with your Google browser. Google U.S. Government Search, Google News and Google Scholar are all great places if you are searching for data that is very recent or that is very accurate.

Google U.S. Government Search

A search for “violent crime” returned government publications ranging from federal statistics to press releases from a state governor. Government publications do not cite individual authors, and all are considered reliable sources. The results seem to be listed by relevance only, and dates of publication are only sometimes listed on the results page. However, the fact that information on government websites must be at recent as possible is helpful.

Google News

Google News provided the most recent data regarding violent crime. In fact, one of the top ranked articles was posted online only 10 minutes ago! The advantage of using Google News is the chronological categories of information that is easily accessible on the right hand side of the page. Under each heading is the name of the author and journal, as well as a direct link to all articles written by that specific author. This is very convenient if you trust this author’s work and want to find more work of the same quality.

Google Scholar

The results yielded by Google Scholar seem to be the least recent. The first five results are all dated back to the 1990’s or earlier, so you should narrow your search to only include articles written since a certain decade. You cannot find a link to all articles written by a certain author, but you can see the article’s citations, find related articles, and customize your search with the handy toolbar at the top.