Monthly Archives: May 2007

Sometimes Search IS Broken!

ACrappySearchEngine

Now, this is the future of web search:

How can you really claim to explore the web when your search engine only returns the results you are looking for?

You can’t. That’s why ACrappySearchEngine.com returns results from all across the web regardless of what you search for…

Now some people will say our service isn’t useful but to that we say, “Look Michael Arrington, Jason Calacanis and every venture capital company we pitched this too – what people really want is to discover what they weren’t looking for! Heck, Columbus was searching for India when he found America and that seemed to work out for everyone didn’t it?”

Just what we all need!

coRank

CoRank

CoRank is a site which lets you create your own social bookmarking sites, which are hosted at yoursite.corank.com – a similar kind of thing to what Ning does with social networks.

This is a great way for small groups to share information through weblinks between each other, without going to the trouble and expense of setting up something like Pligg on a server.

I’ve set up a CoRank at http://virtualcommunities.corank.com/ – feel free to join it and have a play. I’ll still be using del.icio.us as my main bookmark repository though.

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Operator11

Operator11

Operator11 looks like a truly groundbreaking social web service: it’s a social television network.

It’s like a live version of YouTube (though you can upload preproduced video if you want) but what makes it a real killer for me is that other people can request to be involved in your show, you can have them on the air instantly. This is, as far as I can see, all through a web based flash interface.

Jasaon Calacanis hits it on the head:

It’s like giving a CNN newsroom to a MySpace dude

Yet more of the walls separating those who create media and those who view it are being torn down.

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Zoho Notebook (beta)

Zoho

Zoho are one of my favourite web 2.0 companies. They provide pretty much best of breed web applications: cool stuff like a word processor, a spreadsheet, presentations, online meetings, wikis, and oodles of other stuff

Anyway, their latest little number is Notebook, a web based notetaking application. This isn’t just Windows Notepad online though: with Zoho’s Notebook you can add just about anything to a note: text, images, videos, audio, chunks of HTML, RSS feeds, entire web pages. Your notebook can also include word processed pages, or spreadsheets using the relevant Zoho tool.

I really get can’t across just how feature rich Notebook actually is. Try this video, instead:

All the other Zoho apps, taken together, provide a great platform for transferring your productivity to a web based approach. Notebook, though, is something else – probably the most comprehensive web application I’ve come across.

[tags]zoho notebook[/tags]

Is Public Sector Blogging Possible?

There has been a mini-storm this weekend in the UK public sector blogosphere about whether or not it’s actually possible for people working for the government can actually blog in any meaningful way without fear of reprisals, whether from their employer or in the press.

The issue in question is about a post written by one Owen Barder, a Whitehall civil servant who wrote a post that has been picked up by the Mail on Sunday in, one might say, typically hysterical fashion. You can read some views on the debate here, here and here.

My personal view is that Barder’s post, which compared George Bush to Hitler, was ill-advised for a number of reasons. One is that comparing anyone to Hitler outside a 6th form debating society is pretty daft; another that when one is blogging about an issue close to one’s day job, it’s important to be careful with the way one words things. This links into the eighth blogging tip I wrote about here:

Don’t blog about things you shouldn’t. Don’t leave yourself or (even worse) others open to personal criticism because of what you post. If you don’t fully understand an issue, don’t blog on it – yet. Read more, take in other people’s views. Don’t make yourself look an idiot. Don’t flame people. What’s the point? You can disagree with others while remaining polite. It isn’t hard. Don’t deliberately take an extreme stance to provoke reactions. The most likely effect this will have is that people will ignore you.

It’s important that people working within the public sector have the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience through blogging, if they choose to. But, just as with any employee, they have to ensure that what they blog about, and the tone in which they do it, won’t impact negatively on their employer.

There’s possibly an issue here about whether public sector blogs work better behind a password, like those on IDeA’s CoPs. Of course, this means the general public misses out.

I’m planning a local government blogging platform, and in it blogs can be set to be private or public on a post by post basis. But at the end of the day, the best method of ensuring that blog posts don’t cause an unwanted publicity storm is simple common sense.

Update: A couple of comments have revealed the truth of what was in Owen’s post – which I haven’t had the chance to see because his blog is down. It turns out that all he did was quote a Guardian article, where the offending comparison was made. Given this turn of events, it’s clear that the Mail had a particular axe to grind with this particular blogger.

Would such a blatent and inaccurate smear have been made against someone writing within the mainstream media? I guess not. The question in my post is still valid – but takes a different tone, I think. Is it possible for public sector workers to blog when their words are twisted in such a fashion by those who have an interest in discrediting them?

Bubbl.us – online mind mapping

Bubbl.us

Bubbl.us is a great service. It allows you to create mind maps within your web browser. You can share them with other people, and collaborate on them too. A great way of mapping out projects with people who aren’t geographically close.

I’ve created a quick map to show how it can work. It’s about social media, but is only for demonstration purposes: I know it isn’t comprehensive or probably even accurate. Here’s a link to the exported .png image file:

Bubblus_Social_Media

Which is very nice. But I can also embed it into a blog post, or any other site:

 Which you can whizz around with your mouse and zoom in and stuff. Nice!

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Are You Connected?

Nice article from The Guardian:

This week came the news that “William Wales” had joined the social networking site Facebook. Yesterday there was much argument about whether it was a hoax or not. Would Prince William really post a profile on the net? The answer is: well, why not? After all, this is how most people his age keep tabs on their mates.

With websites such as Facebook and MySpace constantly being talked about in the media, it must be easy to feel like a 20th- century luddite if you aren’t already part of the in-crowd. Here lies a great disconnect at the heart of 21st-century socialising: either you’re in (and use every social networking website you can) or you’re out (and don’t use them at all).

WordPress 2.2

WordPress

There’s a new version of WordPress out for those who host their own blogs. The main change seems to be the incorporation of the widgets plugin as a part of the base code. Dougal Campbell lists the main changes:

  • Atom feeds updated to Atom 1.0
  • Preliminary support for Atom Publishing Protocol
  • Widgets are now supported in core
  • Protection against activating broken plugins
  • “Deactivate All Plugins” button. Sadly, my “Reactivate All Plugins” patch didn’t make it into this release. Hopefully you’ll see it in WP 2.3.
  • Improvements to comment management
  • Code optimizations and speedups
  • Future WYSIWYG support for the Safari browser
  • Post Preview moved into a popup window, rather than an iframe on the Write page
  • WordPress-specific XMLRPC API
  • JQuery support

This is a great advance for WordPress, as drag and rop layout editing is a feature of other blogging systems. Am nervous about upgrading though – as I already use the widgts plugin – will this just override everything I have already set up?

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