Saturday, October 27, 2007

Social Software -- or the power and fun of collecting, organizing, and sharing information

Two major problems with the Internet are:
  • too much information
  • too many tools to choose from
Given that, it's best to think of an information problem as an excuse to play around with social software.

The problem Barb and I face -- with this workshop -- is how to organize the information we want to share with people while minimizing the "presentation" talking and maximizing the "hands-on" aspect.

For now, I'm going to blog about the kinds of problems social software has solved for me -- and we'll wait to figure out the best kind of online launch pad for the workshop.

PROBLEM: How to get photographs online -- to share with others or simply to store for personal projects?

SOLUTION: Use an online photo sharing site, like Flickr (see How to Select a Photo Sharing Site for Newbies). Flickr has a tour available on its home page, which is one place to start.

Another way is to just start searching for photos on Flickr, e.g., photos tagged "Singapore" or photos including the word "Hmong".

Flickr also allows you to put photos in Sets and then to put Sets into Collections. For instance, I have a Collection called UWCSEA Primary Library, which contains 8 sets, e.g., Writers' Camp 2007: Telunas Beach and 07-08 UWCSEA Primary Library Displays. It's my way of recording what I do in the library. I have another collection called Other School Libraries where I keep sets of photos of libraries taken on professional peer visits.

NB: I can control who can see any photo by specifying its privacy level -- public, friend, or family.

By becoming "friends" with people and adding them to your Contact list, then you can automatically see when they upload new photos. For instance, Barb just became a grandmother and when I login to Flickr, I can see the latest photos she's uploaded of the baby -- because she's one of my Contacts.

There are also Groups you can join. I'm thinking of joining the 365 Library Days Project -- where you are supposed to take one photo a day of your library for a year and post them on Flickr. Search for groups that interest you. Take a look at all these Singapore groups on Flickr.

How could Flickr be used in the classroom? Read about Photo Sharing in Education in the Teaching Hacks Wiki (which has enough material there to keep you occupied for another Saturday or two).

People are doing all kinds of fun stuff with Flickr. I like this "Spell with Flickr" application -- which takes text as input and gives you back photos that spell out the text, e.g.,:

F L I C K r

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