Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Web 2.0

I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to share on my blog and today I will be sharing my thoughts about some of the new web tools that I have decided to embrace. My personal definition of Web 2.0 is different from how other people are defining it (here or here). I like to think of it in terms of the old web, Web 1.0, being more static and less interactive. The goal was to make a web page and have a presence, like an add in the phone book or something. To me, the new web, Web 2.0, is an interactive and social web. It is about sharing, networking, and staying informed about those people you care about.
When I first got my Mac LCII in 1993 for $2000 I was so excited. I remember a couple of years later going into a chat room after waiting for 10 minutes to connect to AOL via a 28K modem, and trying to chat with someone across the country. I was very upset to immediately get flammed. That was it. No more chat rooms, ever!
I allowed that one flame to turn me off to all chat rooms. I think I may have really missed out over the last decade or more.
The new web offers connectivity I could only have dreamed of back then. I have recently decided to embrace everything. Maybe that is too big a label, but everything that I find useful in even the smallest ways.
I was lucky enough to get to hear Will Richardson last week at my school district's educational technology conference. He is great. I loved to hear him discuss how the Internet is changing education and and the way we interact (here is the wiki of his keynote address). I would like to give him the credit for my recent interest in expanding my technology tool repertoire, but that would not be fair.
The one person who deserves the most credit for my new technology adoptions is my coordinator, Janene. She has been patient with me and that is hard to do because I am a bit difficult. Encouraging me but not forcing me to try new things. That is a tough line to walk because I can react badly when I feel pressured.
I have always read about the new things that come out and one of my favorite places to go has been Clicked. I have known about these social tools, and if asked could explain them to you, but the difference is reading about it, and living with it.
One of my goals as a computer resource person should always be to adopt new things as quickly as I can handle it. I have not been doing this, I have only relied on email for communications. My question has always been why try this "new thing." When the question should have been, why not try this "new thing?" Normally, I am always interested in all things technology, but I guess I was in a rut. Besides, how do you know you won't like something before you try it? There are a lot of cool things out there to try, and they are fun!
Here are some of the things I have been playing with;
Google pages is a free personal website with a web interface that is super easy to use. I started one over a year ago but sort of fell of that wagon for a while, but that is another story. I am back, and I will be adding to my page much more frequently. I can do anything I want, and I like that feeling of control.
This blog is another cool thing that I have been trying. Blogger.com, of course, is the main page where anyone can sign up for a free blog of their own. The best part is that blogger is tied to Google so you can use them both under the same account. Once again, I like the freedom I have, but I will most likely keep it clean and stick to my interests and professional life. I would appreciate it if people who commented (if there ever is one) keep it clean also, but I do believe in freedom of speech... So far it seems that I have plenty to share and not enough time in the day to get to my blog. It is like a journal but also like a mass email. Anyone who knows about it, or stumbles across it can read what I am thinking about. Kind of scary, but that is why this will be clean. Maybe not G rated, but something I would not be afraid to share with my grandmother.
Twitter is like a mini blog. You have a limited amount of space and you can write whatever you would like and share it with others, or if you don't want to, you can ignore them. Very simple idea, and easy to do 5-6 times a day without thinking about it. I was so excited that John Edwards, the Presidential candidate, wanted to follow my Twitter account. Yes, I know he is vote hunting, and that it is probably someone else who is actually doing his twitter thing, but with seven followers, you get excited about them all. Now if I can just get my few friends to join I might feel like I am still a part of their lives.
Del.icio.us is another cool tool, because I can share websites that I like with other people. Right now there are only few links in my list of links but that will be changing.
Pageflakes is a fun little page that pulls stuff from the Internet into nice little boxes for you sort, add or delete. It is very much like iGoogle or live.com but cooler looking.
Here is a strange story about Pageflakes. Last week when Bill Richardson was doing a hands on experience for us, he was showing us pageflakes. I had heard about pageflakes from Clicked probably 2 months before, but I had never visited the site. I typed in the URL and up it popped- with me logged in already. I had never been there on any computer before and the laptop that I was using at the time was a randomly picked laptop off of a laptop cart. I rarely ever use any of these laptops, ever. So I log out, and tried to log back in and it took the password that I typed.
I am not that smart, and I don't remember everything clearly in my life, but I swear I had never been there before. So I spoke up and explained what had happened, and all of my peers made fun of me and thought, "He's an idiot." In most instances they are probably right, but I have proof!
Pageflakes emailed me with an account confirmation page later that day. How could I already be logged in with my email address if I have never been there before? And then how could I get a confirmation page that very same day if I had been there? They do have some serious scripting going on there, but I have no explanation about that incident.
Back to the topic- Web 2.0 has the ability to connect people like never before. Sharing ideas and everything about themselves. I hope that I can use these tools to reconnect with friends I have lost track of, and maybe even find some that I haven't met yet.
Well, that is enough for today, but there are still some other Web 2.0 tools that I want to share- another time...

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