SHEEN Sharing

A Project of the Scottish Employability Co-ordinators' Network

It’s easy to write posts here via email now!

For anyone who wants to post occasionally to this SHEEN Sharing blog, you can do that now by simply sending an email.  I’m sending this post by email: I’m just writing it as an email and sending it to my special blog email address, which I got from the blog dashboard.  So, to get set up, you still have to join WordPress and get a login to this blog, but once you’ve done that you don’t need to go through the dashboard again.

And guess what, you can send an image as well and it will appear in the blog post (but not other formats).  For example, I’ve attached a photo to this email (see below), chosen only because it has a bit of a sheen to it (get it- SHEEN? Because I can’t think of any employability-related pictures 🙂  ).

So, if you want to be able to do this, log into WordPress (use the login link in the near right column), click on Dashboard, then My Blogs, then activate post-by-email next to SHEEN Sharing.  You’ll get a unique email address which is the one you send to, in order to post.

For a super super simple blogging software that just allows you to set up and post everything via email, perfect for those not wanting to learn anything too new but wanting a blog, I’ll write a post re Posterous soon.

photo0041

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Blogging | , , , | Leave a comment

Universities’ Careers Services using Twitter

Added to post from comment below, 6 May 2009 from Helen Curry at University of London Careers Group: Helen has a page on her blog listing Careers Services she knows of with Twitter accounts; she is keeping this list up-to-date: http://helencurry.wordpress.com/2009/05/06/careers-services-on-twitter-uk-he/.

Now that we have a SHEEN Sharing Twitter account for you to follow (@sheensharing), we’ve very quickly come across university careers services using Twitter for dissemination.

For instance, Keele University Careers Service tweets as @KeeleCareers.  Here’s a sample posting (with URL removed for their privacy’s sake):

Wonder what skills employers look for? Go to ‘Stand Out To Employers’ May 6, 1pm, K2. Book a place: [URL]

Then, @KeeleCareers “re-tweeted” (passed on a tweet they had received to their own followers, including us) a message from the University of London’s Careers Group, who tweet as @CareersGroup, which both alerted us to the the UoL’s Twitter account and sent us to their own blog post on some relevant student blogs:

blogging: Desperately seeking graduate jobs: top student-led blogs http://tinyurl.com/cy2apt

So, in a few minutes we are networked into some sources of resources. We can immediately click a button to follow these Twitter accounts, see their news quickly when we want to, read new items and pass them on in a jiffy.

How did I find @KeeleCareers in the first place? I did a search of Twitter (in the search box in the right-hand column) for “employability” just to see what came up. Very worth setting up targeted searches by the way; this can be done very simply within Twitter’s webpage, or in a more advanced way using a tool like TweetDeck). And there was a tweet from @KeeleCareers; being familiar with Keele University I immediately noticed it.

Running that “employablity” search again today, I see tweets from @jobs_manchester, @NorthEastTweets and @SkillsWork. I haven’t even investigated who these accounts belong to yet but I can already see another rich vein opening up.

Last week, I found @sheensharing was being followed by someone with the odd username of @idid_better. Thought it was a spammer at first but followed their link and discovered an organisation interested in:

“developing and promoting international learning experiences such as internships abroad”

.. so we followed them back to see what comes up there.

Interested? Get yourself a Twitter account soon and start following @sheensharing – we’ll re-tweet stuff to you and let you know what’s coming up of interest. Also, you can start following other ECN folk, as well as other people and organisations of specific interest to you. Conversations can be had quickly and information shared easily. Maybe you’ll even decide your own department (careers or otherwise) should start Twittering to reach students and teachers?

For information on using Twitter, see the earlier posting here.

May 5, 2009 Posted by | Microblogging, SHEEN Project Dissemination, Social Networking | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Weekly drop-in webinar clinics/feedback sessions now booked on FlashMeeting

As we decided at the SHEEN Sharing Development Group meeting on April 6th, I got myself a “meeting booker” account on the Open University’s free webinar service, FlashMeeting.  Thanks to Tony Hirst, Chris Valentine and Pete Cannell at the OU for their help.

What is FlashMeeting and why are we using it?

We’ll be using FlashMeeting for weekly webinar sessions that you can drop into as you feel the need.  They can be used for support and help with the Web2.0 tools you will be trialling.  We will also use them to gather formative feedback on how the project trials are going.

FlashMeeting is easy to use in your web browser, as long as you have Adobe Flash 8 or later installed as a plugin.  It is “low-data” friendly, so you don’t need a massively high-spec machine or super-fast Internet connection to use it (although I probably wouldn’t recommend dial-up).  And it records our meetings so we can go back and look at them later, or share them with others in the ECN if they couldn’t come.

There is a brief introduction and feature list for FlashMeeting here: http://fm.ea-tel.eu/about.html.  You can participate with webcam and microphone so we can see and hear each other.  If you don’t have these, you can still see and hear everyone else if you have sound; if you don’t have sound, you can participate via live text chat during the meeting.  In this last case, I will make sure you can read live notes about what is being discussed as it happens.  There is also a whiteboard facility, and the ability to show slides and link to websites live.

When will we meet on FlashMeeting for our clinics and project updates?

I will be available on FlashMeeting every Wednesday morning from 9:00-12:00.  You can pop in at any time during that period.  You can log into the meeting as a guest user, or create an account for yourself in FlashMeeting, which gives you access to more of the functionality in FlashMeeting.

First SHEEN Sharing FlashMeeting

The first FlashMeeting will be this Wednesday, 29 April 2009.  I will send out the URL for the meeting using the ECN JISCMail list, as the recording of the meeting will also be available at that URL, and for privacy’s sake it’s best if I don’t make it public on this Website.

No need to tell me beforehand that you will be logging in, however, if a bunch of you decide to come along because of a trials group issue, a bit of forewarning might help as I have booked the meetings for a certain number of users, and if it looks like we will have more than that number, I will need to increase the booking.

If you know in advance that you have a specific topic you wish to cover, it will likely save us both time if you let me know beforehand also.  I’m keen at this stage not to set topics for the meetings myself, but if people come up with stuff in advance I will certainly let everyone know.  So, for instance, if someone wants to discuss the use of hashtags on Twitter and lets me know beforehand, I can email the JISCmail list and anyone else who is interested can show up too.

Getting Adobe Flash 8 installed if you don’t have it

To check what version of Adobe Flash 8 you have installed in your web browser, simply go to this URL and you will see a report about what version of Flash you currently have: http://fm.ea-tel.eu/version.html.

If you don’t have Adobe Flash 8 or later, you will need to install the most recent version of Flash from the Adobe website.  I understand from our initial meetings that some folk may have to request permission from their IT departments to do this, or even get someone from there to do it.  If you do have this problem, please let Cherie Woolmer and I know: we want to be able to support you and also report back to the Scottish Funding Council about un-necessary barriers in some institutions.

Getting started on FlashMeeting

You will only need to follow the meeting URL I send out, and click to accept the terms and conditions to enter the meeting.  However, if you want to check beforehand that everything is working as it should for you (Adobe Flash 8, webcam and sound), the folks at the OU have provided a VERY easy to follow checking tool, explained here: http://fm.ea-tel.eu/quickstart.html.

Guest user or getting a FlashMeeting sign-in account?

You may indeed be perfectly comfortable as a guest user and wish to join in that way at least to start with; you can access most of the basic functionality as a guest.  However, just FYI, if you are a guest user, you can’t use the whiteboard facility, upload files for others to see, use concept maps, or send private chat messages to other participants.  You also can’t access the SHEEN Sharing group page and save the events you are interested in.  For a full list of features available to different login levels look here.  If you want to use all the available features, go here to sign in: http://fm.ea-tel.eu/mxbooking/signin.php.  Make sure you read the terms and conditions first.

SHEEN Sharing Group on FlashMeeting

I’ve created a SHEEN Sharing Group within FlashMeeting, whereby you can access all of the group’s meetings, and download dates/times for all of them immediately into your calendar.  You need to be a registered user of FlashMeeting to be a member of the Group (again this helps with privacy).  To join the SHEEN Sharing Group, go to My Groups, then search “sheen” with “All groups” selected.  It should be the only group to come up; use the little people icon in the right-hand column to join the group.  I will need to confirm your membership.

April 27, 2009 Posted by | SHEEN Project Events & Meetings, Webconferencing | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tips and Tricks: Getting Started with Twitter

Wondering what Twitter is, exactly? Not sure why you’d want to get started using Twitter? Wondering what the benefits might be? See my previous post on Twitter, and also my newer post on universities’ careers services using Twitter to disseminate to students and others.

First Steps
First, you need a Twitter account.

Then you need some people to follow.

Then, people will start following you as well. If everyone with an interest in SHEEN Sharing gets onto Twitter and starts following each other, we will have a nice web of communications.

Have a Look at SHEEN Sharing on Twitter
SHEEN Sharing itself now has a Twitter account that you can follow. Go to: http://twitter.com/sheensharing to see the SHEEN Sharing Twitterstream. The messages in the big central column are the Tweets sent by SHEEN Sharing so far. In the right-hand column you can see basic information about SHEEN Sharing and also who SHEEN Sharing is following and who is following us (see the “following” and “followers” links). At time of writing, Cherie Woolmer and I (morageyrie) are following SHEEN Sharing. I’m sending its Tweets out, but can easily give others access. HOWEVER: the idea is to give you something useful to follow on Twitter when you set up your own account!

How to Set Up Your Twitter Account

1. Go to http://twitter.com/.

2. Click on the “Get Started – Join” big green button (there’s also a helpful video you can watch from the main page).

3. Fill in the form to create your account.

4: Add some identifying details for yourself in Settings. A brief blurb so potential followers know what your interests are, or indeed can work out *who* you are; not everyone uses their real name on Twitter and once you have dozens of followers it can be hard to remember who is who! Uploading a profile photo helps too: it can be of anything but it means followers have a visual reference to remember you by.

5. Get started looking for people to follow, e.g.:

5a: Navigate to http://twitter.com/sheensharing and click the “follow” button (which will only appear if you are already logged in using your new Twitter account).

5b: You can also choose to follow me as an individual: http://twitter.com/morageyrie. You may find this useful or amusing or overwhelming or annoying: I use Twitter a *lot* (which is why I set up a separate SHEEN Sharing account). But you are very welcome to follow me: you can always un-follow me if it gets too much!

5c: Check who else is following SHEEN Sharing; click to follow them if you wish (there should be a “follow” button under their name in the list; if there isn’t you may already be following them). Most folk allow anyone to follow them, some folk may have their profiles locked so they have to approve your request to follow.

Learn a Few of the Tricks

*** Tweets must be 140 or fewer characters; it’s like learning to write Haiku!

*** You can Direct Message (or “DM”) people; only you and they will see these conversations.

*** You can reply to a Tweet and everyone who follows both of you will see it; you can get something very close to threaded discussions this way. Most Twitter tools let you click a “reply” button of some kind but you can also do it manually by typing @ then their username at the start of your Tweet.

*** You can also “mention” other users in your Tweet; it’s just again typing @ then their username; these mentions will appear in their @replies list so they will notice them easily! For instance, I might Tweet in response to SHEEN Sharing “@sheensharing thanks for the conference update. I wonder what @Cheriewoolmer thinks of that?” .. both SHEEN Sharing and Cherie will see this in their @replies section.

*** You can pass on Tweets you find useful if you think not all of your followers will have seen them. This is called “Re-Tweeting”, and the convention is to type RT: then copy and past the entire Tweet (including the original sender’s username). However, most tools now have a “Re-Tweet” button that will do all this for you.

Optional Stuff for the Really Keen

*** Set up your mobile phone so you can post to Twitter by sending a text. (You can also receive text updates if you are a Vodaphone subscriber). Go to Settings > Devices (instructions here).

*** Twitter is getting bigger so you can get marketing spammers and such following you, but it’s easy to block them when they do. However, you can set up your Twitter account so your updates are only viewable by those you approve. This means that, if someone clicks to “follow” you, you have to approve them (so they have to wait for that), and that your Tweets will not appear in any live Twitter streams anywhere, nor be searchable by anyone outwith your followers etc. Go to Settings and scroll down to the bottom, read the blurb and if that’s what you want to do, check the checkbox. NB: If you do this, your Tweets will not be visible anywhere to anyone except those who follow you; so, for instance someone searching for Tweets on “employability” using TweetDeck or similar won’t find anything you’ve posted.

*** Find a Twitter tool that makes it easy for you to keep up. TwitterFox is great for those using Firefox as a browser. If you have an iPhone there are various apps for that. You can get a newsfeed of your Twitterstream and read incoming Tweets in your feed reader (makes it hard to reply easily though). But you may wish to keep it simple at first and just keep a tab open in your browser with your Twitter account on it.

*** Set up Twitter to automatically update your Facebook status.. two birds with one stone.

*** Set up any number of tools (e.g. Delicious) so that when you post to them, a Tweet automatically gets sent to your followers.

There is so much more you can do! Just Tweet me or comment here with questions!

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Group Spaces Online, Microblogging, Social Networking, Web2.0 Tools, Tips and Tricks | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Easing our communications, sharing info, supporting each other: in praise of Twitter

Already know you want to get started with Twitter but not sure how? See my next post with tips and tricks here.

What is Twitter?
Twitter is known as a “microblogging” tool; think Facebook status updates without the rest of Facebook around them. Or tiny emails only from and to people you choose to be part of your own personal community. Or miniature blog posts appearing in your feed reader.

Each update (or “Tweet”) must be 140 characters long or fewer. You read the Tweets only of folk you choose to “follow”. There are many free tools for reading your “Twitterstream” (all the Tweets from people who you follow) – or you can just read your Twitter account in a webpage, feed reader or email inbox.

Why Twitter?
I was planning to avoid talking about Twitter during the early phase of SHEEN Sharing. I felt like it was currently being over-hyped in the media with consequent negative feelings running rampant (amongst those who haven’t used it that is). And I just wasn’t sure it would be useful for people just starting to explore this Web2.0y stuff.

I was wrong about all of that. In several meetings it has come up that people find the deluge of emails and managing information overload difficult these days. With the best will in the world, it’s really difficult for such a widely distributed and busy group to stay in touch and work together supportively (although the ECN folks certainly do manage well with the time they’ve got). Someone said that they wanted something like the way you chat to colleagues in the lunch queue at a conference.

How Twitter Has Eased My Working Life
Consequently, I often found myself explaining how I use Twitter for work and how it has eased my working life to a considerable degree, especially with regard to communications and support within my professional community of practice, and for getting relevant information in a very timely manner. Gradually those interested in SHEEN Sharing have expressed an interest in trying this wonder tool.

How is Twitter Useful?: A Personal View

Here are the ways I find Twitter useful:

1. Ease of integration into my daily work
I don’t have to log into anything- not even a separate webpage in a new tab. I use Firefox as my browser, and there is a free Twitter tool called TwitterFox. TwitterFox sits in the lower right hand corner of my browser window, and has a little number on it showing how many new Tweets have come in.

When a new Tweet comes in, a little balloon pops up, just at the edge of my eye-line, with the full Tweet text (140 characters) and sender’s name and icon in it. I can tell in an instant if I want to follow it up. If I want REAL radio silence (say if I’m writing something heavy duty), I can switch it off. If I want to see recent Tweets, I just click the icon and the balloon expands, but not enough to obscure the page I’m currently reading or working in. I can have it open while, for instance, typing this into our blog post editor online.

2. Choosing my community
I see messages only from those I want to be in communication with. I choose to “follow” people whose messages are of interest to me. I can un-follow them at any time. I can block people who I don’t want following me, or restrict my followers to only those I consciously approve.

3. Flexible configuration for different purposes
I can use a more flexible tool like TweetDeck to group Tweets according to my interests. For instance, I have a TweetDeck stream that only shows messages from colleagues around the world with an interest in repositories. If I’m working on repositories stuff I can look at that stream. Or, I can run a search in TweetDeck for “repositories” and get a stream that only includes Tweets that mention that word.

4. Amplifying conferences: being in many places at once!
I can keep up with conferences and other events or issues without needing to attend them. Conversely, if I’m running a conference I can make sure that it is “amplified” out to many more people than just those physically present.

People at a given conference (e.g. #altc2008), or interested in a current news topic (e.g. #G20) agree to use the same “hashtag” (a term with a # in front). Then, anyone interested in that topic can follow all Tweets that include the hashtag. I’ve followed numerous conference presentations from my desk in this way: people who are at the conference Tweet news, impressions, discussion points etc., and I can respond via Twitter and get further discussion and feedback from others- all in real time. Or, I can go back and read the Tweets later to catch up on what happened. Conference webpages and blogs can include Twitterstream feeds. And so on…

5. “Dear lazyweb” – accessing a world of expert advice and information
I can easily ask for help on a topic by typing a Tweet question, again in the lower right-hand corner of my screen, no need to navigate to a new page or log into anything. My question will go to those interested: firstly, all the people who follow me will see the Tweet (and ignore it if they’re not interested); and secondly, if I’ve included a useful keyword or hashtag in the Tweet, people from further afield might see it and respond. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gathered invaluable information that I’ve needed, generally within 5 minutes of Tweeting. This has also often led to new people joining me via me following them, or them following me, or both.

A good example of this was the SHEEN Sharing Trials Planning Meeting in early April. We explored briefly the idea of using something like NetVibes as a more permanent community web presence for SHEEN Sharing and the ECN. I only had the example of my own rather pitiful NetVibes page handy (I’d only put it together for our initial introductory workshops anyway; it’s not something I was familiar with in detail). Everyone was somewhat unimpressed. While we were at lunch I quickly sent a Tweet: “dear lazyweb: anyone got any examples of NetVibes used as project dissemination?” and within 10 minutes had four rather lush examples (more on that later), better than even I’d anticipated, and showing NetVibes being very close to what we wanted to achieve. When we started up after lunch, I was ready to go! And I still had time to eat.

6. Community membership and support
As a social tool for keeping up with ones community and feeling supported, validated, amused, informed, or just plain part of something bigger, Twitter is the best. I work alone at home, but I feel like I’m in a big, silent room, where I can stand up and walk about, ask if anyone wants a cuppa, ask a pertinent work-related question and get answers, hear some gossip or the latest news, or just tell people I’ve got a headache and get sympathy in response. Kind of like working in an open plan office that you can switch on and off at will.

The thing I can’t emphasise strongly enough is the ease, speed, and lack of intrusiveness with which this happens. And Twitter can now be integrated with most other web tools you might be using, including email, feed readers, blogs, wikis and other websites.

Worries
Usually at about this point (or rather, about two-thirds of the way through the above information), someone says “But there isn’t enough time in the world… ” or “How do you find the time… ” etc. All I can say is that it saves me time, as well as bringing benefits I can’t get elsewhere. There is still the problem of using anything like this as a distraction, or getting overwhelmed with incoming information and messages. I don’t think the need to manage these problems as individuals is going away any time soon!

So, the next post will be a HowTo specifically to get you set up on Twitter, and also an announcement: follow SHEEN Sharing itself on Twitter!

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Group Spaces Online, Microblogging, Social Networking, Web2.0 Tools, Tips and Tricks | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Specialised communities of practice using Web2.0 AND sharing slides on a blog!

Three areas of relevance to SHEEN Sharing for this post:

    1. It gives direct access to an excellent resource I came across today via Twitter: it was Tweeted as a link by @andypowe11, AKA Andy Powell of EduServ, who I follow on Twitter. Excellent work again, Twitterverse! If anyone involved in SHEEN Sharing wants to join Twitter and start following me, I’ll try to re-Tweet things of interest so you can see them.
    2. The content of the slideshow below I find very interesting. Although the author is talking about the use of Web2.0 to support communities of practice in the form of e-science researchers, I found much of what it said relevant to my investigations into Web2.0 for SHEEN Sharing. Perhaps there are similarities: both involve small, highly specialised and distributed communities of practice. Worth a look.
    3. Last and by no means least, it’s an example of how easy it is to embed a slide presentation into a blog post from SlideShare. SlideShare is to presentations what Flickr is to photos. Free, open access, with community and commenting features, tagging and feeds available. I have a few presentations up there myself. I like the fact that if you click on the big green arrow below, it will take you through the slideshow without you having to click anything else. So far we’ve put our SHEEN Sharing slides on Scribd: scroll to the bottom of the screen for an example of how Scribd slideshows appear in a blog post- interesting comparison?

How I did it: I followed the link Andy sent, watched the slideshow, liked it, bookmarked it in Delicious, first off tagged sheensharing_web2 so it would be available to me for my research, and also appear in the feed in the column to the right, then thought I would embed it directly in the SHEEN Sharing blog to see how that would look.

Straight away saw a “post to WordPress” link under the slides, clicked it, then copied the pre-highlighted bit of code in the second box. I pasted this code straight into a new post here in SHEEN Sharing, hit “Save Draft”, then “Preview”, and was able to immediately see how nice it looks in the blog. Went back and wrote the text you’ve been reading above and below the pasted-in code.

That’s it!

Anyway, just for comparison, let’s see what happens when I embed the Scribd code for our SHEEN Sharing introductory slides in a post (using much the same technique- go to document in Scribd, select “Click for WordPress.com embed”, copy and paste pre-filled code):

View this document on Scribd

Comments welcome!

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Microblogging, Resource sharing sites | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Enhancement Theme Conference 2009

Hi everyone,

It was nice to see some of you at the Enhancement conference last week.  I particularly enjoyed the presentation from Paul Redmond, Head of Careers Service at University of Liverpool. It focused on understanding “Generation Y”. I found it quite heartening that the upcoming generation don’t seem to be as obsessed with earning money (as perhaps Generation X!) and that they still value face to face contact………it isn’t all about the mobile phone and Facebook then!

I think the conference organisers said they were planning to pod cast the presentations.  Paul’s isn’t on the conference website just yet but keep having a look. If you didn’t see it, then I’d highly recommend viewing it when it appears. Paul’s delivery was fantastic….just what was needed at the end of a two day conference. Here is the You tube video he used in his presentation.

I’m interested to know what other ECs thought of the event overall from an Employability perspective. I found it gave a helpful profile to our work (and helped demonstrate the links with Graduate Attributes) but was somewhat disappointed that it didn’t do more to encourage discussion about the integration with other themes. I picked up hints from others at the conference that the lack of focus on this latter point was more than a little frustrating and gave out the wrong message.

Any other views?

Cherie

March 12, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, SHEEN Sharing Project | , , | 5 Comments

The Wisdom of the (S)ages: Literature/Project Review Bookmarks

*** Update, 12 October 2009 ***

NB: I have now removed the below-noted Delicious widgets from the right-hand column of this blog, as they were distracting: they were intended as examples only at the start of the project.  We are now using Diigo to bookmark and share resources within the ECN.  See blog postings on Diigo by clicking on the tag Diigo on the right, or by clicking here.

_________________________________________________

*** Original post from 23 February 2009 ***

Hi everyone. Have you set up your newsfeed for this blog yet so you can get updated on news from the project? Go to the Entries RSS link in the column over there —> .. and put the hyperlink URL into your feed reader; then you’ll get an update every time anyone adds a new post to this blog. For more detailed instructions see https://sheensharing.wordpress.com/2009/02/10/tips-tricks-getting-updates-easily-using-feeds/

On to today’s business: if you’re observant you’ll have noticed a new widget in the far right-hand column called SHEEN Sharing Literature/Project Review: Links on Delicious. You’ll see a list of linked resources with descriptions; you can also click on the widget title and go to Delicious itself to see all the resources bookmarked sheensharing_web2.

This is really for my job of looking at what recent and current projects have found/are finding out about the best way to share resources on the Web in a distributed community of practice. Like this one. I’ve been bookmarking resources to review for this purpose on Delicious as: sheensharing_web2 (you’ll recall we’re bookmarking resources of interest from an employability perspective just as: sheensharing – hence we also have a widget over in that column just for those).

The beauty of this is: if you come across anything you want to share you can just bookmark it in Delicious with the tag sheensharing or sheensharing_web2 and it’ll appear on this page, in the correct widget in the right-hand column. You’ll be able to do this just by clicking a button in your browser toolbar when you are looking at a webpage you want to bookmark. Please use Delicious to let me know of any relevant resources you come across!

Of course, this means you need a Delicious account. These are free and can be as anonymous as you like. There are all sorts of things SHEEN Sharing can do in future with this, so Delicious will be one of the tools we trial over the course of the project. And, just to encourage you further, just using Delicious for your own bookmarking purposes is a gift in itself- it means you can access your own bookmarks (and make them public or private) from any computer or device with Web access, and you don’t have to move or sync them on new computers.

If you fancy trying it now, go to: http://delicious.com/ – it’s very easy to set up an account and start bookmarking.

February 23, 2009 Posted by | Bookmarking, SHEEN Sharing Project, Tagging, Using Newsfeeds, Web2.0 Tools, Tips and Tricks | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tips & Tricks: Getting Updates Easily Using Feeds

Introduction to Newsfeedsfeed-icon-28x28
As we noted in the Project Development Group kick-off meeting at the end of January, newsfeeds (e.g. RSS Feeds, Atom Feeds, Podcast Feeds) are the lynchpin to using social media on the Web. Regardless of which Web2.0 tools others in your network or community use, if you can get feeds you can be informed of their news, new resources and relevant discussions as easily as checking your email inbox. Likewise, regardless of what Web2.0 tools YOU choose to use, you can be confident that others will be updated on the new resources or ideas you want to share, because your own tools will allow them to receive feeds.

Choosing a Feed Reader
There are many feed tools out there for you to choose from. Some allow you to log into a website to check your feeds, some sit on your desktop and pull feeds down off the web. It’s similar to the two main ways you might get email: you may log onto the Hotmail or Gmail service on the web, for instance, to read your emails, or you may have Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird or similar on your own computer, pulling your emails in for you. It doesn’t matter which reader you use; you can experiment.

The two tools we looked at in the project kick-off meeting were Google Reader on the web, and Mozilla Thunderbird on the desktop, mainly because these are the two tools I currently use, so I was able to show the Development Group a bunch of existing newsfeeds and how they work, how I organise them, where they come from, and so on.

Getting Started With Feeds
To get started, if you haven’t already, go to http://www.google.co.uk/reader/ and sign up to get a Google account- if you already have one you can just use that.  Or, feel free to experiment with some other free tool.

Alternatively, have a look in your email client’s help section to see how to set up feeds in the same tool as your email. For instance, in Thunderbird, go to Tools > Account Settings > News & Blogs > Manage Subscriptions > Add. You will be given a box to enter a new Feed URL.

Getting Feeds: The Feed URL
Whatever feed tool you use, the key is the Feed URL. By giving the Feed URL for a site or service to your feed reader, you are ensuring that every time you look in your reader, you will see the latest updates from that site or service.

The best way to start for this project would be to subscribe to the feed for this blog. That way you will be updated every time there is a new posting added to the blog. To do this, look near the bottom of the columns on the right, under Site Admin & Feeds. Click on Entries RSS and you will get the Feed URL. If you have already signed up for Google Reader, clicking this link should immediately open a Google Reader page allowing you to put this feed into your reader. If you are using an email client or other tool, you can copy and past the Feed URL into whatever form or box that tool gives you for subscribing to feeds.

Feeds for Specific Pages, Postings and Comments
You may find you want to monitor comments on this blog, to see if anyone has posted a comment on something you have written, or just to keep up with discussions. Under Site Admin & Feeds you will see a link for Comments RSS – selecting this will give you a comments feed.

You can also get feeds for particular pages or blog postings on this blog. For instance, click on Welcome to the SHEEN Sharing Project to see the welcome page for this blog. If you look up in the browser address box, where the URL for the page is, you will see the RSS Feed icon to the right feed-icon-14x14. Wherever you see this icon on the web, you can click it to get a feed for the resource it is attached to. In this case, clicking it will give you a news feed just for that page; you will be notified of any additions, edits, or comments for the page.

Other Feeds
Do you have websites or discussion forums that you check regularly, as part of your work, to follow the news, or for personal interests? Go have a look and see if they offer a feed. You can add this to your feed reader too, and find out how much time you can save just going to one place to be notified of updates to things you are interested in.

Feeds and Your Daily Routine
Once you have a feed or some feeds of interest to you set up in your reader, you can have your own routine with checking them. It’s similar to email: feeds can be a great source of news, information and help, but they can also take your time away from other tasks if you check them too often, or if you feel obliged to read every single news item that comes in. You’ll have to employ similar feed management strategies as you do with email; in fact, simply checking your feeds each time you go in to check your email might be a good starting point.

Incoming Feeds on this Blog
You may have noticed in the columns to the right, there are some items with the feed icon next to them. These are trial examples of using other sites’ feeds to pull relevant content into this blog for our community to use. At the time of writing, I’ve set up two incoming feeds. One is Project Documents from Scribd and the other is SheenSharing Bookmarks from Delicious. I’ll explain more about these in future postings here, but the general idea is that Cherie and I can use Scribd to post documents such as project plans, presentation slides, etc. on a free site called Scribd; I have set up a feed from Scribd, just for our group’s documents, into our blog page. So if you click on the links there you will be taken to the relevant project document on Scribd, and allowed to read or download it. Each time we add a new document, the feed in the right-hand column is automatically updated. Similarly, we are using Delicious, a free site for sharing bookmarks, to collect links of relevance to the project. We tag them on Delicious with the unique tag “sheensharing”, and we have a feed coming into the blog which lists all items with that tag.

So: this is your sandbox: feel free to play in it, get started with a feed reader and some feeds, and please post comments, questions and feedback here so others can benefit from your experience and offer you theirs.

The next posting from me will be about getting you started in writing your own posts here on the blog!

February 10, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Bookmarking, Using Newsfeeds, Web2.0 Tools, Tips and Tricks | , , | 3 Comments

Snowy day at Project Consultant’s home

This post demonstrates how someone using Twitpic to post photos directly to Twitter can also share their Twitpic photos in a blog posting.  The Twitpic site allows you to copy a small bit of HTML and paste it straight into your blog post- you don’t need to know anything about the HTML, just copy-n-paste.  The photo here also links back to the Twitpic page it lives on, so you can look at it and other Twitpics the person has shared.

1st of 3 photos of my back court in Govanhill #uksnow - it's ... on TwitPic

View of snowfall at back of morageyrie's flat, 9 Feb. 2009, Glasgow

February 9, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Social Networking, Web2.0 Tools, Tips and Tricks | , , , | 3 Comments