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Archive for the ‘Web 2.0 Tools’ Category

Evaluating New Social Networking Services: Google Buzz and Foursquare

Two new online services have made the news lately:  Google Buzz and Foursquare.

Google Buzz is a good example of why it’s not always a good idea to immediately go out and try a new service.  Give it a week and let the “dust settle.”

At first, Google Buzz seemed like a great idea:  Facebook-like interaction with your contacts integrated directly into Gmail.  Unfortunately, reports of privacy issues and too many “automatic” features began almost immediately.  For instance, users reported that all their Gmail contacts were now public for everyone to see.  Google has now been forced to admit it made a mistake and to try to fix the system.  See this blog post entitled, “Google: We Screwed Up with Buzz, Stay Tuned” for a summary.

Meanwhile, a mobile service called “Foursquare” has been getting a lot of attention. Foursquare is a “geo-location” app for mobile phones.  People can share their location with their friends and offer “tips” about particular places in their city.  The Krafty Librarian has an interesting post about the service and whether it has any application to libraries.  For now, it appears to be mostly a “fun” application but it’s worth keeping an eye on for future library applications.

Follow Changes to Any Website with Google Reader

Have you ever wanted to receive notification when a web page changes or adds new information, but were unable to do so if the website did not have an RSS feed? Google Reader has just added a new feature which will allow you to keep up with changes to web pages that do not have RSS feeds. For more information on this feature and instructions for setting it up, see this article on Google’s blog:

Re-format Web Pages for Easy Reading

Have you ever wanted to “cut the clutter” from web page articles and just be able to read the content without the ads and other extraneous information?

A simple, free online tool called “Readability” will let you do this. Readability installs into your browser as a “bookmarklet.” When you’re on a web page you’d like to re-format, click the bookmarklet and Readability will replace the page with the content only. The content can be re-formatted in newspaper, novel, e-book or “terminal” styles, and you can pick the size of the text and the margin.

I found Readability did not work as well for “discussion thread” sites (it would only pick up the first thread in the page), but worked well for news sites and the other sites I tried. If you give it a try, post a comment about your experience!

What will the web look like in 5 years?

What will the web look like in 5 years? Find out what Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, has to say about this. Some intriguing thoughts: the web will be dominated by the Chinese language and today’s teenagers will provide the model for how the web will work in the future. You can read highlights, along with a link to listen to the full 45-minute interview, here:

Curious about Google Wave?

Google released Google Wave, a new real-time collaboration and communication tool, to 100,000 beta testers yesterday. If you’re not one of the early testers but are curious about what Google Wave can do, check out this detailed description in the LifeHacker blog:

The Ribbit Wave gadget for conducting conference calls sounds particularly interesting!

Hospitals and Social Media — a Quick Note

Connie Schardt, President of the Medical Library Association, recently posted the following notice to several listservs. Her main point is importnat enough to reprint here.

“An interesting blog post: — How Hospitals are Quietly Leading the Way with Social Media at Perhaps attitudes are starting to change about the use of social media within hospitals.”

PowerPoint(less) Alternatives on the Web

Are you still using PowerPoint for your teaching? Kay Deeney recently attended the Annual Distance Teaching & Learning Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. One of the interesting talks was on Presentation Blogs by Ray Schroeder and Carrie Levin from the University of Illinois at Springfield. They used their blog, Power Point(less) Alternatives to demonstrate how to give a presentation via a blog. They also highlighted social networking sites such as NING as another alternative to PowerPoint. The speakers felt that blogs allow interaction through comments; facilitate hyperlinks; and provide a lasting and evolving resource to a topic via RSS feeds on the sidebar. See for more information and other links to interesting teaching ideas from these two!

MedlinePlus on Twitter

We are happy to announce that MedlinePlus has launched a Twitter feed! You can find the link on the home page in the lower right hand column. 

The new feed is called medlineplus4you.  When you get a chance, take a look at the other feeds that medlineplus4you follows; there are a number of feeds from other organizations that you might find useful.  For instance, one of the links is to LungAssociation from the American Lung Association, which currently has excellent references to information about air quality and wildfires.  Another is ReadydotGov, the Twitter feed for FEMA website for personal emergency preparedness.

100 Best Twitter Feeds for Librarians

If you’ve been wondering how to find librarians who share valuable information on Twitter, take a look at the “100 Best Twitter Feeds for Librarians” post at

This page lists the kind of information you can expect to find from the librarian’s Twitter page. Note that you don’t have to join Twitter to access other librarian’s Twitter pages; just click on the link in the article.

Buzzword: New Online Collaborative Document Tool

Adobe has released the beta version of Buzzword, a new online collaborative document tool and word processing program. With Buzzword, you can create, edit, and share documents with groups of people. Buzzword keeps a history of changes to the document, and allows you to export and import content from other programs.

Buzzword is a free service. I found the interface very easy to use and responsive to my actions. The export to Microsoft Word produced a document with the same formatting as I had created in Buzzword.

Buzzword can be accessed at You may also wish to view a YouTube tutorial on Buzzword’s features at