The internet is awesome. And daily it is getting more and more awesomer. The best part is that a lot of what makes it great are the web-based tools that are being developed to help us users make sense of the vastness of the internet. I think we have gone beyond Web 2.0 (finally) and are now encountering a web where stuff gets done, efficiently, effectively and linked-edly. Some might call it Web 3.0, or the semantic web; I’d like to refer to it as Web as WorkSpace (WawS). The key to WawS? Web apps galore.
Since I am coming from an online MLIS program (Florida State University) I quickly acclimated to doing coursework online – in Blackboard and attending class in Elluminate. Those are fine for the basics (discussion boards, lectures), but what about when I have a Digital Library project due and my group members live in Florida and South Carolina, while I am in NYC? Our need to have real time collaboration in spaces that are easy to use and familiar led us to Dropbox, Google Docs, and Skype. [Check out the process of my digital library project here.] In fact, I have been the biggest evangelist of web apps in any of my classes, and I have yet to figure out why more LIS students aren’t using WawS to hack library school. Want details? You got it:
Take HackLibSchool for instance. For those who have been with us since the beginning you may know that this whole thing started as an article posted on In The Library With A Lead Pipe. Before that was even published, I set up Twapperkeeper to start archiving tweets with the #hacklibschool hashtag. The first iteration of HLS was a collaboratively edited, live on the web GDoc, content from which was then migrated to a wiki for organization. All of this was accomplished with little effort (and no $$!) on my end, besides getting it all set up and ready to go, and opening it up for others to access. Then, of course came this here blog. The editors are now using Google Groups to keep our conversations organized, scheduling posts and hashing out topics on a wiki, and sometimes we utilize a private Skype chat, GChat or Convore chat to stay in touch. Still pretty tame on the web app side, as most of these are familiar to many.
Web Apps are quickly becoming the way to get things done, across time and space. One of the podcasts I listened to today had a phrase that stuck with me, “Data is the currency of the web.” Finding productive and interesting ways to harness that data is a growing space that we can and should be aware of, if not actively engaged with, in fact Data Curation and Data Science are becoming more and more possible career options for LIS. My advice would be to sign up for everything and anything the looks interesting to you (most have a free trial) and figure out how the app can make your life easier. Check in on LifeHacker every once in a while. You might come away with something that makes all the difference in simplifying your workflow, group projects, or grocery list. But then again, maybe Watson already has too much control!
Web Apps I Use Regularly:
- Dropbox – seriously. Quit stalling. My entire MLIS degree is in Dropbox.
- Google Suite – Chrome, Docs, Cal, Gmail (Priority Inbox), Reader (RSS hacking is a whole other post!)
- Postrank Chrome Etension – for filtering RSS feeds by engagement.
- Trunk.ly – Archives and indexes favorited tweets, GReader Shared Items, and more and makes them full-text searchable.
- Curated.by – To grab links, tweets, articles and “curate” them around a topic.
- LucidChart – for making graphs & infographs, in a simple drag-and-drop web space.
- Tweetdeck Chrome App – manages my Twitter life.
- SimpleNote – Synced across all my devices. I use this for blog ideas, things to remember, lists…
- Instapaper – for longer articles I want to save and read on a mobile device later.
- GrooveShark – MUSIC!
Apps I Haven’t Yet Figured Out How To Use (Data Scrapers):
Where I learn about this stuff: