Oversharing with Twitter and RSS

November 28, 2008 § 2 Comments

Last night I stayed up way too late playing with RSS feeds. Perhaps I’m a little slow on the uptake (not unusual for me), but I discovered a couple of new tools that allow me to use RSS technology to push out information to my Twitter followers and blog readers. And here I thought all the time that RSS feeds are a way for me only to collect information. Now I know RSS can be used as a way to share. This is a very exciting realization for me.

Yesterday, I discovered Twitterfeed, which allows you to set up RSS activity to feed into your Twitter feed. You can set up feeds from your blogs, your link sharing sites, including Facebook posts and tools like Ma.gnolia or Delicious, and probably some other sources that I haven’t thought of.

As a chronic oversharer (in more of a reference librarian kind of way, not in a TMI way), I immediately saw the usefulness. So I have set up four feeds; one from each of my blogs so that each time I make a new post it will automatically send out a tweet; one from my Facebook Posted Items feed; and another from my Ma.gnolia feed with all of the links that I tag with “reference”. I’m thinking about setting up a special feed there especially for Twitter link sharing. Possibly more on that later.

Hopefully, my followers will find this interesting and not annoying. These tools will no doubt increase my follow cost. This is a concept I find a little paradoxical. I mean, you follow people on Twitter because you’re interested in what they’re tweeting, right? I’m not saying more is better, but Twitter is an information sharing tool. Anyway, I hope that these feeds don’t become obnoxious.

I also figured out how to use some RSS widgets through my WordPress blogs. I set up my Twitter feed to update in the sidebars (that was kind of a “duh” moment for me), and I also set up some Ma.gnolia link feeds to update there. If you look to the right below the Meebo box, you will see my latest Ma.gnolia links tagged with “Social Change” and from my “Fundraising and Philanthropy” and “Development Research” groups.

These tools for me are just like Christmas; I find joy in receiving and sharing the gifts of information technology.

Following Proposition 8 Protests Today

November 15, 2008 § Leave a comment

While I haven’t been able to give as much time and attention to these protests as I would have liked, it is clear that the Internet has changed activism and grassroots organzing.

The nation-wide action was organized by grassroots movements in communities everywhere using Internet tools. I found the protest here through the Join the Impact website, which had resources and links to local websites, blogs, and Facebook pages. Word has been spread by Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed. I found many resources here in Chicago, including Chicago Against Prop 8, and the Great Lakes Against Prop 8 (GLAP8 – gotta work on that acronym).

Almost overnight I connected with old friends and made new ones, all of us in far flung locations acting in solidarity for marriage equality.

Today, I will be one of the featured livebloggers at the many rallies around the country.

All of the action and planning has inspired and reinvigorated me! I am eager to see the results of our efforts, and I will be sure to report on it here.

More Election Tools

October 2, 2008 § Leave a comment

Clearly, I’m only scrating the surface. Since my earlier post about the Twitter Election feed, I’ve learned about some other interesting online tools:

My Debates is a plitical forum through the MySpace social networking site where participants can submit question for consideration to the debate. People can also use various tools to debate the issues with other citizens.

CSPAN Debate Hub is a site where in addition to watching the presidential debates, citizens can use tools like Twitter and YouTube to share their observations.

Patchwork Nation from the Christian Science Monitor is an interactive tool which breaks down different cultural epicenters across the country and their political leanings.

And because I’m liberal, I have to give a plug for this site: Living Liberally. This is a real-life social networking tool that allows you to find like-minded social groups in your region where you can gather and watch the debates while engaging in your favorite activity, like drinking and eating.

I’m sure there are more, and I’m still looking for them!

Making Heads or Tails of It

September 29, 2008 § Leave a comment

I have been trying to educate myself about mortgage backed securities and commercial paper within last two weeks, as I indicated in my earlier post about the information resources I have been collecting that best explain the economic crisis.

By far the best resource that I have found so far is the Planet Money blog and podcast from NPR. Thier stories are featured on some of the regular programs, like All Things Considered and Morning Edition, but the podcast through iTunes has a few nuggets that I haven’t heard anywhere else, so its worth downloading.

The contributing journalists to this effort offer down-to-earth easily understandable break downs for the average listener who doesn’t have a degree in finance or economics.

I need to understand this stuff for my job, and as a citizen I see it as a responsibility. The journalists here clearly see it as their job to educate the public on how some incredibly important decisions might impact our world and our day-to-day life for generations. They do a great job.

Oh, and I was thrilled tonight to find that they also have a Twitter feed.

Chicago New Media Summit

September 14, 2008 § Leave a comment

While I won’t be attending this event, I will most certainly be watching the ning site and following the Twitter feed, looking for content emerging from the happenings there. Being on the periphery of this burgeoning community, this looks to be an exciting event. The organizers want nothing less that to establish Chicago as the “New Media Capital,” which after moving here from the Bay Area almost one year ago seems like a logical possibility. Even coming from Silicon Valley where much of the new media technology was born and is still being developed, Chicago seems the likely place for the creative use of this new technology to really take off and take hold.

This is the heartland, after all, a hub representing a real cross-section of the United States and arguably the world. The diverse cultural representation that exists here is rich soil for creative seeds to be planted. Chicago has a populist tradition of intellectualism here, and people have the ability to dig down into the resourceful working class roots and history of this place to find inspiration of those who have created vibrant communities here before with whatever means they had available to them. Finally, the creativity that exists here makes for a community of artists, writers, activists, and musicians actively creating new works and looking for and finding inspiration in each other.

As a techneophyte and citizen blogger still kind of new to Chicago, I live on the periphery of this community, still feeling kind of on the outside looking in, I’m excited by the possibilities of what inspiration might come out of the Chicag New Media Summit.

Blog Day 2008 And Beyond

September 2, 2008 § Leave a comment

Yesterday was Blog Day, so as a good Internet citizen, I participated over at my personal blog, Paradoxologies. In participating in that exercise, I have been mulling over the meaning of community and what it means in the context of the Internet. I don’t know any of the bloggers that I wrote about well at all, but I obviously feel some connection to them, as they are all writers about topics that are of interest to me.  I have only met one of them in person, and I have corresponded with each of them over the months that I have been following them, and occasionally responding to their posts.

Not long ago, I read another blog post (though regrettably I don’t remember which) that called on other bloggers to commit to posting comments regularly. That post really got me thinking about how important it is to keep the momentum of this online grassroots network-building by actively participating. I continue to espousing the growth of this online public discourse, and I am committing to updating my blogs at least once a week, keeping up with the blogs I like, and regularly posting comments.

Building community through social networking tools is only going to be successful if we enocourage each other by engaging each other.

Be the change that you want to see in the world

August 28, 2008 § 4 Comments

Britt Bravo recently started a Ning site for Change Bloggers, and here she asks the question: Are we BEING the change?

By creating blogs and participating in the onling social networking community of folks who are trying to make a difference in the world, does it make a difference? Good question. I think I’ll ponder and post an answer. Care to join the community?

Ambidextrous?

July 13, 2008 § Leave a comment

I have heard friends complain that they can’t switch to Facebook after using MySpace for so long. I do understand the investment of time and having a strong orientation to one site over another.  This especially makes sense when considering wanting and needing to stay in touch with friends and contacts.

I maintain pages at both sites, though recently I have declared my preference for Facebook. I started out with a MySpace page, and thought it was interesting. I have accumulated random friends, people I’ve found who I think are interesting, and some random groups, bands and causes that I want to support or affiliate with in some way. With both services, I have been able to reconnect and stay connected to friends very easily since we moved across the country. I find it easier to share things there and integrate other online services I use there so that folks who are interested can see what I’m up to, and for me to follow what they are up to. However, I find that I have more friends on Facebook and it is easier to communicate there. At MySpace there are too many bells and whistles and way to many obnoxious flashing ads. It’s enough to give you an anyerism.

However, I consider myself to be ambidextrous even while I have a preference. I don’t want to limit myself, and I don’t want to miss out on local events just because they’re posted on MySpace but not Facebook (though most other folks are ambidextrous, too, or are becoming so, and events are often posted in both places).

It’s not unlike the fact that I am equally comfortable using Macs and PCs, or that I have been able to cross over from my Palm Pilot to my new Blackberry, which I was told would be really hard to do (it wasn’t). It’s all about what we’re used to and what we prefer. But all of us, no matter how stubborn, can learn to use new technologies.

Is someone trying to tell me something?

June 26, 2008 § Leave a comment

Both my current and former employers have sent me letters within the last two weeks saying that my personal information may have been compromised. They each had separate laptop-theft incidents in their respective HR departments. It strikes me as just a little too coincidental that it would happen in two separate incidents so close in time.

I’m creeped out. Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.

The Reliability of Resources

June 22, 2008 § Leave a comment

Guy Kawasaki tweeted this question today:

Is the Internet a Source of Information or Misinformation?

With a link to this post on Trueomors about how people think that information found through research on the Internet is not reliable, citing Wikipedia as the prime example. People are saying that children’s heads are being filled with untruths and propaganda, and that Wikipedia is inherently bad because anyone can submit content.

Here is my response:  Pashaw!

Yes, I admit that the content of Wikipedia must be regarded with scrutiny and care, but no more so than any other research reference. Misinformation is also printed in books. If people are trained to research with discernment and a critical eye, they know that they can’t rely on the accuracy of any one resource.  You should always use more than one search engine when doing Internet research, and you should always use more than one encyclopedia. Once you’ve gathered those references, you should then look for the primary sources that are often referenced in citations. This might even require going to the library and — gasp — looking at books!

The Internet simply makes some commonly used resources more easily available than they ever have been. No longer do you have to go to the library to use the encyclopedias there, or the card catalog (remember those?). Wearing your PJs and bunny slippers, you can research your paper from the privacy of your own home. If I were a lazy college student, I might be tempted not to verify my sources and simply rely on Wikipedia as my sole source. But then I wouldn’t expect to get a good grade.

The point I’m trying to make is that whether it’s Wikipedia or a reference in a book, any research worth his or her salt must confirm any information with more than one reference.

The thing that I like about Wikipedia is exactly what makes it problematic. I really love the concept of user-contributed content. It’s kind of a utopian idea, even if it isn’t executed in reality how it is conceived in it’s ideals.  I like to be optimistic, but I’m not naive. I’ve heard about the people who will sabotage McCain’s or Obama’s or Clinton’s Wikipedia pages. I know there are unscrupulous people out there who want to push their own agendas rather than contribute to the integrity of available information on the Internet.

This has been the challenge of the Internet all along: How to manage the onslaught of available information. How do you separate the wheat from the chaff?  The answer is this: The same way researchers always have since libraries existed. You use the best research methods and tool available to find all the information you can about your subject, not relying on just one method or resource. Once you have gathered all of your data, then you analyse it, verifying your sources.

Think of it! If we provide better research training to people when they’re in college, when they come across bad information on Wikipedia perhaps they’ll be inclined to fix the citation, thus contributing to the integrity of that resource. Perhaps then Wikipedia will have a better reputation.

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