Week 7 Tools: blinklist, citeulike, & connotea

I started to take a look at these social bookmarking tools in the order they were posted.  My initial response to BlinkList, was ‘WOW this seems easy’.  It told me right away what it can do, it gave me a brief idea of how exactly it worked and it offered a more in-depth tour showing in greater detail how it works.  I thought it was great that it had a specific section geared towards those teaching classes and “what BlinkList can do for you!” and your class.  They made getting started quite easy but if you weren’t sold on its ease, they show you samples of Resent activity, and let you click on some popular tags to see what it will look like.  I checked out the link to the Web2.0 tag from the main page, and I liked how it was sorted by tabs for “most recent”, “Hot Now”, and “Popular”.  I also liked how it shows you a star rating, based on votes, and a screen shot of the actual website.  Sign up was as easy as it said it was, and importing my browser favorites easy.  The step by step “how to” was straightforward, clear and appreciated.  I haven’t imported my del.icio.us files as yet, I want to give BlinkList a test run before I make any decisions to import everything and choose one bookmarking tool. 

The main page of CiteULike wasn’t quite as appealing as BlinkList, however it clearly stated the purpose of the tool, what it can do for you, and really focused on citation aspects, as well as the academic community.  It felt more serious, more professional, and a little less fun, but it seemed like a worthy enough tool for a test run.  Just like BlinkList it gives you a list of the most popular tags in the right hand tool bar.  Their presentation of tags was quite neat, as it displayed the tags in a random scattering, with the most popular sized accordingly, the way extisp.icio.us did for our own del.icio.us tags.  Further because of its rather professional tone and appearance, the tags seemed quite academic and relevant.  The site, while it was not wild and crazy and terribly exciting, it did have reasonable navigation and it was quite obvious and easy to use.  Just as BlinkList it provided sample posts and articles so you could get a taste before you signed up.  Once I signed up I was disappointed to find (at least from my quick investigation) that I could not import/export from my del.icio.us or browser favorites quite as easily as I could from BlinkList.  From my quick browse through, it seemed that I could only easily import/export from BibTeX (free) or EndNote (commercial).  However, that aside posting an article was quite easy, and searching an article was even easier.  I like the ability to mark it “very likely to read” or “might read”, etc. on its way in, and I like the ability to let the article posted be public but to keep the notes portion private if you so choose.  I think this tool definitely lends itself well to academic research because of its compatibility with BibTeX, etc. and it defiantly makes obtaining citations quite easy.    Connotea’s site was a little livelier than CiteULike, and a little busier than BlinkList, however it was straightforward and walked you through the steps of registering and how it works relatively well.  I like that it listed the top 5 reasons to use Connotea, but you have to click separate tabs to read about Connotea, latest news, site guide, community pages, etc.  I think I would have liked to taste a few more of its features right from the main page.  As for the registration process it asked for more personal information than just a user name and email address.  This site wants to know your first and last name (which will “not be seen by other users”)…hmmm interesting…I wonder why they need/want this when the others don’t….   

Connotea also made you wait for the verification email before you could log in and start using it.  The others didn’t require that you wait for it they let you get started but told you everything you need for future log in would be in your email.  So far I’m not nearly as impressed by Conntea as I was with BlinkList and CiteULike.  Even once I got my registration email and I logged in, I didn’t find the navigation of the site was as intuitive as the others.  I’ll keep the account for now but it will definitely be on probation. My final vote goes to BlinkList for easy navigation, straight forward explanations, and it was even a little fun.  However, CiteULike is a close second due to its implications for academic research and easy citation.  And unless in the next week or so Connotea captivates me it’s not ranking so high J.


October 17, 2006 at 2:51 pm 2 comments

Week 7 Reading Response: Social Bookmarking, Tagging, Folksonomies

As always, Wikipedia, was a great place to start understanding Social Bookmarking. I always find the external links section of the Wikipedia articles to be quite useful.  In addition to Hamond’s “Social Bookmarking Tools (I): A General Review”, that was on our reading list, you find links to icekin’s Sn’B site which provides an article on searching for the ideal social bookmarking service,  a list of social bookmarking resources and a link to the “7 Things You Should Know about Social Bookmarking” article, along with some others all of which are worthwhile reads. Back to our class readings for this week, I really enjoyed Hollenback’s article “Even tastier del.icio.us”, which lead me to finally check out extisp.icio.us.  Extisp.icio.uw, allows you to sign in with your del.icio.us user name and it displays a “random textual scattering” of your tags, which are sized according to how frequently you use them.  The link provided above provides a dual window for extisp.icio.us and extisp.icio.us images.  The latter displays a random Yahoo image search of all your tags and displays a collage.  Both are quite fun and worth the 2 seconds to generate. 

Almost all of the articles, when dealing with tagging, said the same thing, we tag for ourselves and if someone else can benefit from it that’s great, but we tag for ourselves first and are not restricted by structured classification.  I think I liked the way Porter’s article put this:   “The one major idea behind the Del.icio.us Lesson is that personal value precedes network value. What this means is that if we are to build networks of value, then each person on the network needs to find value for themselves before they can contribute value to the network. In the case of Del.icio.us, people find value saving their personal bookmarks first and foremost. All other usage is secondary.”  

Once again it was great great timing for this weeks topic.  Over the weekend I actually had a few minutes to sit down and read September’s issue of Information Outlook (SLA’s membership publication) and it the “Websites Worth a Click” section it listed Librarything.com as an interesting site for book geeks.  I’ve heard it in passing, seen the link here or there but I never really took the time to sit down and play with it.  Well, I am glad I finally did this weekend as it was quite neat.  It allows you to “catalogue” all the books on your shelf, tag them and share them with the Librarything communities, etc.  You can write your own review and rate the book using the 5 star system.  It’s neat because you search the book title and retrieve the information form Library of Congress or Amazon, and I believe you can select the source where you book information comes from.  I haven’t given it all the time I’d like but I did get a chance to purpose the discussion groups and read a few reviews and it was quite fun.  I thought it was rather appropriate considering all the talk of the Amazon reviews lately, and the fact that this week we are talking about tagging. However, going back to tagging for yourself, I realized, as I was tagging the books from my self for my new Librarything account, how personal some of my tags were.  Some were straight forward and likely used/useful for others like “Historical Fiction” but for personal use I tagged it with my name, my fiancé’s name, or both.  The only reason for doing this is to see who’s read what, so really it serves no purpose for anyone else except for us.  I loved the freedom to do that!  While I respect the necessity for structured classification I truly appreciate the freedom of personalized individual tagging.   

I also I really like del.icio.us for this reason, freedom.  When I am able to tag articles, etc. according to my own needs, I am more likely to find them again.  I’m no opposed to using the “suggested tags” that del.icio.us provides so that the articles I’m tagging are useful to others, but the ability to give a random tag that for some may be completely unrelated is quite useful.  As you’ve all probably noticed when I’m tagging articles with the “lis757” tag you will often see “BMO” as a tag, which allows me to kill two birds with one stone when the articles I’m finding are relevant to the course as well as work.  This saves me so much time when I don’t have to sift back through the “lis757” articles I saved just to find the ones that were relevant to work.  I now have a few of my colleagues using del.icio.us and it is making collaborative research significantly more doable.  A few of them that I have hooked were still using the archaic method of printing an article and circulating from desk to desk, or forwarding the link to everyone via email.  Further, many of us spend time at various locations, by using del.icio.us I can get the articles from anywhere (with an internet connection of course) whereas before I was stuck if the links were only saved in my browser’s “favorites”.  I can’t tell you how many times this happened to me when working from home.  I knew I had an article saved but I couldn’t use it until I was at work next unless I wanted to search for it again, because it was stuck on my office computer.   Knowing from experience the difference using a tool like del.icio.us can make in terms of distributed research, I see this utility becoming more and more necessary and valuable for distance education.  After using it for this course, I can’t say there is much I don’t like about it, however, I do that I might miss something someone has added if I don’t intuitively know the “right tag” to search.  So far I think I’ve done okay, but because it is open ended user tagging, there is no way to know for sure right?

October 16, 2006 at 7:59 pm 15 comments

Week 6: The readings, the case studies and the back end of wikis…

Since I was one of the presenters this week I don’t have much to add in terms of comments about the readings or have any additional comments about wikis just yet!  But I will say that if you don’t get to play with all the links we provided I think the bit on blikis are quite nifty and is worth checking out.  I think they are particularly interesting because our group used both a blog to present and a wiki to collaborate, so why not have one tool?  There are obvious reasons for having a blog and a wiki as separate entities but what do we think about having a new manifestation of them combined?   (I look forward to upcoming conversations about them.)  I also really enjoyed the Wikipedia: TourBusStop, and thought it was a neat way to “explore”.  I also think you will enjoy checking out wikis from the back end by playing around with our group wiki, lis757wikimania.  At first it was a little scary because there’s a little more to it than just copy and paste.  You have to know the “wiki language” a bit to be able to make your links work (my great challenge — thanks for the help Tamara!), however once you found your grove it was as easy as pie! As for the case studies, I’m particularly fond of the Ohio University Libraries Biz Wiki and the this take on library research guides.  I also am interested to follow the Wiki WorldCat (WikiD) Pilot to see where it goes, because as Heather said in her comment to our presentation it is great to read the Amazon & Chapters reviews but you never know when they are coming from a publisher, so it will be interesting to read patron reviews and to see how the WorldCat deals with publisher posts.

October 11, 2006 at 9:40 pm 1 comment


OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) should be simple, but I’m having a tough time wrapping my head around it.  The article on OMPL 2.0 draft spec was interesting but I needed some background first so I hit the Wikipedia article on OPML.  Aha! Though it’s not crystal clear I think I understand it a bit more.  I was confused by what they mean by, an OPML is a format for outlines.  I didn’t really see the link with RSS feeds until I read Wikipeida, who puts it simply and says OPML is now commonly used to “exchange lists of RSS feeds between RSS aggregators”.  Beyond this I found the Wikipedia article little too technical but I think I get it enough to see how libraries can use OPML to offer groups or bundles of “feeds” on the same topic.  Rather than add each feed individually, they can offer an OPML link that would allow the users to subscribe to all the new library events eg., children’s events and adult events under the heading of event. Or in the case of academic libraries the user can subscribe to all the feeds on Canada Heath as an example from the University of Manitoba.  Hopefully I’m on board and understand OPML, I’ll have to check out the other course blogs to see if I’m on page. J 

Stephen’s OPML Generator was really good at explaining OPML in a simple way that I understand!  Wish I had checked this out before the other sites haha.  It was relatively easy to create my own OPML compiling about 5 feeds that I like to read regularly (at least I think I’ve done it right).

October 11, 2006 at 9:13 pm Leave a comment


Feed2JS (aka Feed to JavaScript) “just a cut ‘n paste away” you say?  No knowledge of XML you say?  This was a great site, I loved the “why are you doing this?” section, straight to the point. I liked how the instructions were written in plain English with minimal technical jargon and the step by step explanations were clear.  The RSS2HTML site was a little more serious and scary than Feed2JS.  It gets right to the point, option 1, option 2, alternatives, no explanations, no easing into it.  While the instructions were clear it was a bit overwhelming for someone new to all of this. Even though I’m using wordpress and you can add a feed using the “add a sidebar widget” option, I tried out Feed2JS and it created a JavaScript cut and past for me in seconds!  It was really easy to use but I couldn’t figure out where to paste the script it had generated in my wordpress blog to make it work.  Thanks to Heather who I messaged and called in a panic, I realized with wordpress you have to use their tool.  How does it work for those of you using blogs other than wordpress? 

I choose a feed from KMworld (great site!) that is related to what I hope to do for my final paper.  It worked relatively well but I’ve hit a stump!  The first problem is that KMworld asks that you link to their site as part of your RSS feed and you use their logo.  For the life of me I cannot figure out how to do this on word press.  If you check my link in the sidebar you’ll see the title link “www.kmworld.com” doesn’t work, the article links work just fine though.  The second problem is finding a way to include their logo.  Does anyone know how or is this even possible with wordpress? DIGRESSION à while I’m on the subject of HELP I can’t get wordpress to do what I want!  I thought I’d throw this in and see what everyone has to say: a while ago I said I’d look into adding an about page with a picture.  I went through the steps and filled that section out using the wordpress templates but I can’t figure out how to get it to show up!  Any suggestions as to what I’m missing or doing wrong would be great!!

October 11, 2006 at 7:17 pm 3 comments

Week 5 Case Study Comments

The social skills feed collections from the Seattle Public Library would have been quite useful in my undergrad years when it was all I could do to get a few good, current sources for my psych courses.  However, this page of their site was not very good at explaining what exactly it is you are looking at and how you can put it to use.  It’s great that we know it is a feed from the Seattle Public Library’s catalog but if we didn’t know what feeds were and we ended up here it would be nice to give us a brief note on what it is.  Sure, it explains that is an RSS feed meant to be displayed in a newsreader (which by the way they do not link to any of the examples provided – also would have been handy), but when you click on the link it doesn’t give you a feed to add it actually shows you the list from that feed.  So is this website the alternative to a newsreader, do I still need a news reader, exactly how to I make the best use of this information that has been kindly compiled for me?  When you click on the Social Skills Feed hyper link just below the Library title it takes you to a quick catalog search.  Even now that I’m familiar enough with RSS feeds I found this site quite confusing.  I think it’s a great idea to get feeds from typical searches but a little help and direction with using them would be great. 

The vendors were a bit better at explaining the new ability to turn your alerts into RSS feeds.  Ebsco’s  RSS feed information release was good in its intro blurb but the screen shots it provided came with no explanations of what you were looking at and what it meant.  This may be clear for alert subscribers, but not for someone like me seeing it at the first time.  However, the Engineering Village 2  and ProQuest RSS explanations were good.  They explained what it was, how to do it and most importantly I think they would made sense to someone who is not so familiar with this new RSS business.

October 11, 2006 at 2:34 pm 1 comment

Week 5: More RSS business

I really liked the Rich Site Services: Web Feeds for Extendd Information and Library Services article.  While there was a lot of overlap with the information read on RSS feeds last week, this article clearly lists a number of uses for RSS feeds as an information services.  I’m quite excited about the E-Journal feeds now.  There are so many Library Journals and Information Management Journals that I would love to follow but it is a painful task when you have to go to each site regularly.  Being able to aggregate all the journal feeds in my Bloglines account (which I’m loving more and more everyday now that I’m in the swing it) will make my life so much easier and increase the likelihood of reading them more regularly.  The section of the article which I found particularly interesting was the discussion of “Potential Possibilities” and ways for publishers and vendors to get on board and make the RSS feeds and even more valuable tool for libraries.  The article also talked about the idea of database and OPAC vendors offering a web feed option.  In fact we saw a library catalogue in our case study from last week that had a library catalogue search with RSS feed options. 

The Weblogs and RSS in Information Work article considers weblogs as more than a professional awareness service instead it considers them an information resource as a library services.  The article discussed how weblogs and RSS feeds used together can be a more enhanced service than weblogs alone.  The footnote that directs you to the Blogarama blog directory was pretty neat and really easy to use.  

I also liked the quote, “so technically there is no reason for an organization of whatever size not to blog – the ease of use means contributions don’t have to be limited to those with great IT confidence, and in some organizational blogs the content can come from a range of people.”  This is what I’ve been saying at work over the last few weeks that we’ve been contemplating the use of blogs as a collaboration and knowledge management tool. 

Oh and Heather after reading this article I think I better understand what you were saying about “TOO MUCH EMAIL” and I am now re-thinking my idea of having the news feeds for my IM Issues publication coming to my inbox Heather you were right and this article backs you up, “some aggregators can alert you by email when there is new material available. This is fine for saved searches and some blogs, but not recommended for rapidly changing sites like BBC news! Indeed it’s too easy to get overwhelmed by material when you just add one more source that looks interesting, and then another. And if you miss checking for a few days you could have hundreds of items to look at…” I can see how it would be very overwhelming for news feeds so I think I’ll stick to the Bloglines approach. 

The Success Story: RSS Moves into the Mainstream at the University of Alberta Libraries article was good as it gave an overview of the typical uses of blogs and RSS in libraries.  My only complaint about the article is that when he referenced Amanda’s blogwithoutalibrary.net he didn’t link to it, or any of the other sites he mentions!  I think I’m a lazy reader and if it hadn’t been the blog of someone I know I doubt I would have taken the time to copy and past the link into a new window (which is what I had to do).  Sorry for the mini, un-related to the topic at hand, rant J 

Bloglines, Flickr, and del.icio.us make RSS delectable – Well I was pretty excited to read this article as it had an eye catching title.  And as it turns out the read was as good as its title!  I was particularly interested in the standalone newsreader flaw they point out:  

There are various standalone newsreader programs available for pretty much any computing platform. Some are quite good, but they all share the same flaw: information about what feeds you subscribe to and which articles you have read stays on your individual computer. What if you use the Web both at home at at work? How do you synchronize your feed-reading experience? …While it is true that some standalone newsreaders have this feature, it only works with the same software on each system. What if your office system is Linux and your home machine is a Mac? You’re out of luck.)” 

I have to ask why would you want a standalone reader then?  What is the benefit if you can get a web-based reader like Bloglines, etc. and read it anywhere there is an internet connection? 

When the article started talking about Flickr I also got excited because it is something I am about to get started on so I can share my wedding planning progress with our friends and family.  We have engagement party picks, dress picking shots, and soon we’ll have Jack & Jill photos, bachelor & bachelorette party photos, and of course most importantly the Wedding photos!  This is the one I’ve heard the most about any feedback on a better tool for this purpose would be more than welcomed J The article states some of the downfalls as: 

“By default all pictures are public, so a Flickr search returns all your photos tagged “newyork” as well as all the photos others have tagged “newyork””.  

“…it is still in beta. While it works well, the site does go down from time to time. Second, the free Flickr membership is limited to 10MB of picture uploads a month. That’s a lot of little cameraphone pictures, but only a handful of full-size digital camera photos. If you are using a “real” digital camera, you should scale down the pictures before uploading them. Also, you can only see your last 100 uploaded pictures (older pictures are stored but not accessible unless you upgrade your account).” 

“The real power of Flickr is available if you upgrade to a Pro account for $60 per year. The Pro account has an upload limit of 1GB per month, and gives you access to your original full-size images. When you upload pictures to Flickr, they are automatically scaled to a variety of sizes for display. The largest size you can access with a free account is 640×480 pixels. If you have a Pro account, your original image remains available. This makes Flickr a great place to archive all your digital images, not just ones you plan on sharing with others.” 

So I guess the bottom line is you get what you pay for when its free and you get what you pay for when you pay for it 😉  Oh and before we end the Flickr discussion, if you don’t know anything about flickr this article provides the link to a sample flickr photostream. 

I think its pretty awesome that every photstream has a corresponding RSS feed.  2 of my very good friends one in Manitoba and one in
Ottawa have recently had kids.  I’ve been out of the loop and wait patiently for the occasional emailed update photo, or for the hardcopies to arrives weeks later in the mail.  I talked to them at the end of the summer about getting a Flickr account and now I can see the pics almost as soon as they take them.  Now all I have to do is get them linked into my bloglines account!!


The section on “Bookmarks the easy way”, made me say “wow this author is reading my mind today!”  He says, “like everyone else, I have saved many bookmarks in my browsers over the years, only to forget I’d ever saved them” – this is exactly why I can’t stop talking about del.icio.us I’ve got my sister going on it now for her essay articles, my fiancé is now using it heavily at work and at home and I am growing to love it more and more everyday J  I even have one person in my network now thanks Heather!  Why do I love it more and more you may ask?  Well how I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bookmarked something at work, something at home, and something at my parents place and when I needed I’m never at the right PC.  Because it’s web-based and I’m rarely in the same place day to day it has made a world of difference!  GOSH I shoulda been checking these things our waaaaaaaaaaayyyy before this class!

October 2, 2006 at 4:35 pm 1 comment

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