Work 2.0

 

Cory Doctorow at the 2007 EFF Pioneer Awards, by quinnum

Cory Doctorow at the 2007 EFF Pioneer Awards, by quinnum

As usual when there’s not enough work to motivate me to do it, I’m experimenting with that interweb thing. And so, I’ve made me a tumblr. Most of these things (Twitter, Delicious, etc.) take some time to convince me, but I think I like tumblr straight off. Benefits:

 

  • Bookmarklet. Anything with a bookmarklet instantly gets my seal of approval. I heart my RSS subscribe bookmarklet, I’ve a little bit gone off Google Notebook, but I’m loving Delicious again at the moment, now I’m streaming it here.
  • Multimedia. I can put pictures, links, text or even a nicely laid-out quote on there. If I’m not mistaken, it’ll also update automatically whenever I blog here – I guess we’ll see shortly.
  • Pretty. It’s prettier than blogger, wordpress, even Twitter because it’s so minimal.

I likes it. 

I’ve also been experimenting with using these technologies for work purposes, i.e. to interact with students, potential, confirmed and enrolled. This last year we had a Facebook group of well over 1500 students, but the superiors chose not to allow us any actual interaction. This year, we just won’t tell them and I’ve updated our portfolio to include a whole pile of things, which may or may not turn out to be useful…

  • Del.icio.us: Hopefully this will work as some sort of searchable repository of useful links for students coming to London. That way, if they want to find something out, or find something to do in an evening, they’ll have this handy listing. My own Delicious bookmarks are fed onto the homepage here, on the right, and provide a convenient insight into what I’m looking at instead of working. I’ve also put an RSS feed onto Charity Shop Tourism with just those I’ve tagged appropriately.
  • Facebook: I’ve really gone off Facebook, and were it not that a number of folks I know wouldn’t bother talking to me were it not for this insidious timewaster, I’d just delete my profile in its entirety. That said, it’s quite useful for work – I’ve set up a group for next year’s class which will feature events, photos, videos etc., and full interactivity for students to talk to each other and discuss. It’s pretty good really, or so I like to think.
  • Flickr: I heart my flickr and I really should update it more often – I’ve got a stack of Battersea Power Station ones to upload yet, which turned out pretty well. For work, we’ve got some pictures up of the university and the local area and facilities, which are not very interesting in themselves, but I guess might be if you like that sort of thing. We do have a group which I’m hoping to look after, however, for students to post their own experiences for all to see.
  • Twitter: I also heart my Twitter. It’s so succint that I can be a bit more obliquely confessional about things that I’d never elaborate about, so it’s pretty cool for that. I don’t make much use of it for linking and interacting and that (that’ll be the family antisocial gene poking through again), but I like updating it. The work one might be pretty cool, although I suppose it remains to be seen how many of our potential students will use it. It could be useful for announcements n ting though. 
  • Ning: This one’s brand new on me. I’ve never seen any personal use for it before, but I’ve created a personalised social network that students could use. It does everything the same as a Facebook group really, so it may become obsolete as the year progresses, but again, that remains to be seen. I think the idea is that Moodle is a social network in itself, but that rarely seems to actually happen effectively – more the students’ and academics’ fault than Moodle’s, though.
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How many blogs would a weblog blog if a weblog could blog blogs?

from dullhunks photostream

from dullhunk's photostream

 

I’ve been writing this blog now for several years, and was doing a different one before that, and for reasons previously discussed, have retained that mild dose of social misanthropy when it comes to internet correspondence. For that reason, I rarely comment on others’ blogs, and I rarely cross-link in the same way that others do. For this reason, my visitors average out at about 50 random guests each day – I tend not to try and work out repeat offenders: I know of two or three at most that read COUTTH regularly, and that’s probably about accurate.

But I wonder if going down this self-imposed isolationist route is causing me to miss part of the joy of the Web 2.0 experience? I certainly read lots of blogs (currently 147 subscriptions on my Google Reader) but I always feel a bit silly talking to random interweb people. I went through a years-long phase of visiting music-based forums and I think I’ve got that out of my system now, but my own experience is that people from the internet are actually quite nice. 

So to link to some articles/posts I have enjoyed recently: 

I’m also adding: Unmitigated England; Ornamental Passions; Ben Goldacre’s Bad Science; and Ghost Signs to the blogroll.

Twitter > Facebook > MySpace

Facebook. Wasn’t that great? For about five minutes there everyone knew where I lived, where I’d been on holiday, what my hair looked like on that night out, who my friends were/are, how good I wasn’t at poker, and how I respond to being poked. If you know me at all, you might know that my reaction to being poked is inconsistent, at best. But isn’t it clever? Now I’m a part of this globe-spanning network where everybody knows too much about me and where I can’t get away if I try. There’s a stack of people that wouldn’t ever bother speaking to me were it not for facebook (a stack might be being a little generous to myself, but you understand my point), and so I’d have to find new ways to interact and stay in touch with these life-marginals.

Which is hard, for boys. I’m really bad at staying in touch with people – I don’t like phoning people (they might be busy!) and I don’t really like it when people phone me. Email is fine: if you’re in email contact with someone, you know them enough to want to talk to them – generally speaking – plus one has time to construct an appropriate response. No problem. But Facebook has descended into a cavalcade of inanity and as it’s gotten more and more ubiquitous, the less and less appealing it is.

I would be lying if I said I have no misanthropic tendencies at all (I am my father’s son) but I’m not that bad. I just don’t want anybody talking to me. I don’t care what the people I avoided speaking to at school are doing in Portsmouth (they’re all in Portsmouth…). I don’t care what Kevin in the year above is doing, who once threw a sesame snap at me and whose stock insult was to call me a virgin (at age 13), is doing now. I’m not the least bit interested what Ruth, whose social status was on a par with every single cast member of Dawson’s Creek, is doing with whom. My life’s moved on.

Nor am I really interested enough to look at people’s photos, or to see what lolcat they’ve clipped. Yet the certain people with whom I wish to retain a link? They seem to be only willing to communicate via Facebook. The social networking revolution isn’t really working for me: 2.0 is fine, contributing is nice. But you there, from school: don’t talk to me.

Forget about your house of cards

It turns out that avoiding wasting time on the internet is easier when you have about half as much time as you need to do the volume of work you need to. I’m sure this is some sort of fairly basic management principle, although, if you did employ the actual right amount of people to do the job, facebook and a hefty proportion of blogs would go out of business asap.

My updates are pretty sporadic here because work is taking over not only work time, but outside time as well, and so inessentials like the internet are first against the wall, sadly. Just as I was getting into it as well (yes, thank you tre, your input, I acknowledge it).

That said, I don’t really mind – I like blogging, and since pretty much no-one reads this, it’s a good place to jot down thoughts and remind me of things – but I’m at work to work, funnily enough, and if my day is filled completely with work, then so be it. Evenings (although those are becoming precious few, especially in the next couple of weeks) are good for this, and along with my web 2.0 mentor, I’m exploring the usefulness of del.icio.us and StumbleUpon – the latter is looking good stuff, i’ve already found (and been cleverly forwarded) a bunch of cool stuff. Lots of maps, and goodness knows, I love maps.

So, I’ll try and keep up this blogging lark: today I’ve been mostly working on the usual self-improvement: weekly resolutions and the like, they’re starting to add up, and I like it. It’s making me a bit… well, better, I guess.

Twittr

I’m trying out Twittr, as can be ascertained by the distinctly failed widget on the right. Hopefully by the time you read this, that’ll be sorted. I wouldn’t bother much with the del.icio.us link though, I’m not using much of that. In the meantime, check me oot.

I think I kind of like Twittr. It is what it is, it’s unpretentious, and for a purpose, and as such is much better, and much less annoying than a stack of annoying Facebook updates. All the controls are in the right place, I can track who I want easily, it can search my address book – it’s pretty sound, if a little unstable. I also like Remember The Milk, which seems solid and useful and nicely designed as a tasks/to do/calendar app. These things I’m exploring are from a Top 100 Tools For Learning list (I’ve tried digging it, furling it, delicious-ing it, we’ll see if there’s any point), which has proved interesting – things have changed since I was at school and the height of sophistication was a world map printed onto a blackboard.

I’ll be adding Infinite Thought, who’s excellent article on universities inspired yesterday’s post, to the Blogroll.

Wooh!

Well gosh, very little time here to post! Work sets in, lots of course materials to faff about with, a ton of online VLE stuff hanging over our heads, and a bunch of crazy enquiries, like all the time. Work too hard for blogging!

It doesn’t distract me quite enough to prevent me from dipping that all-important wrist into Web 2.0 and creating a Flickr group. A small step, you might cry, and rightly so, but for me it’s a step into a geek zone that I’ve not quite crossed before. I blame Neal Stephenson, and certain others. Forums (forae?) are one thing, and I think I’ve had quite enough of them, and even Facebook is a little bit lowest-common-denominator, but the world at large, cyberspace, the Intarweb, this is all starting to take off in my head. The net has become something indispensable and integral to most peoples’ lives, and as such is rapidly losing stigma. There’s a multitude of tools on it that make the most of free-conomics: Wikipedia, flickr, google of course, but so many more. You want teaching tools? You got ’em. You want images? Got ’em. And so on.

I like it, I like where it’s headed and that the internet is moving away from its seamy, bodge-it-together beginnings to something fluid and useful and fun. Better than the telly, anyway.

You can find my flickr group here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/woodgreen/. As the URL suggests, it’s London’s best Wood Green-themed, so do contribute, if you can.