For those of you who are like me–new to the world of social media and on-line tools I want to tell you about what I have learned in the last week. I am in the process of acquainting myself with several “social” sites: Delicious, Scribd and Twitter.
Delicious is a social bookmarking service run by Yahoo. You have to sign up for a Yahoo account but it is free. The beauty of Delicious is that you can tag, save, manage and share web pages that you like all from one place and you can do this from any computer that you happen to be working on. So if like me you do a lot of on-line research, move around a lot and end up using other people’s computers, you still can access all of your bookmarks from anywhere. I am definitely going to spend some time familiarizing myself with all that Delicious has to offer.
I also spent some time on Scribd. This is a social publishing site that can be linked to Facebook. Although the vision of Scribd is to “liberate the written word” and you can read the documents online, if you want to download and save the document (as I did), you have to pay a small fee. It was $ 9.00 USD for a one month service. Since there is some connection in my brain that requires me to print and scribble on academic papers in order to make sense of what I am reading I think the cost is worth it. If I don’t interact in a physical way with information it doesn’t stick to the Velcro of my brain. Reminds me of the discussion that has been going on in our class blogs regarding the possibility that online discussions such as “blogs and forums, then, can have that tendency to cause people to move on before subjects have been more fully engaged”. For me reading online inhibits my ability to engage with the information. This kind of reading seems to require a different kind of processing.
The third tool that I am starting to familiarize myself with is Twitter. The jury’s still out on this one. I can see how it could be useful tool for following interesting people in your field, as people tweet all kinds of information about interesting books, websites, conferences, contacts etc. The key to making it work for you might lie in selecting who you want to follow. My first impression is that I am getting way too much information for me to handle right now. Perhaps it was not a good idea for me to copy Alec Couros’ followers list. Although tweets are 140 words or less by the time I read and respond to the 30 or so daily emails that I have to deal with at work, then check my personal mail at Gmail, check my Google reader account for new posts and news, my brain just can’t take anymore digital information. Like any new tool I expect it will take more time for me to decide just how useful Twitter is to me. I have noticed some interesting on-line posts about using Twitter in the classroom and even for storytelling. I definitely want to explore this concept. If anyone knows of good sites for this please let me know.