Friday, October 26, 2007

Social spots in Google's many products....

Seen a list of all the Google products lately? It's impressive. (Check out the [French] map of these products and how they relate to one another, though -- mind -- it's as enormous as Google's influence.... I prefer the more impressionistic (and English) map of Googleland....)

Maybe Google is taking over the world, but I'm still a happy user.

My favorite tools are Gmail, Google Reader, iGoogle, and Google Notebook.

I love Gmail with its ability to tag e-mails with multiple labels -- effectively allowing them to "live" in multiple folders -- makes managing the inbox so easy. (I don't know if any of you subscribe to multiple listservs -- but Gmail makes it easy to set up filters and automatically tag/label posts as they come in -- have a read here about how I manage my listserv traffic using a second Gmail account, if you're interested...)

Even if you don't use Gmail, you can still get a Google account and access their other products.

GoogleReader is hard to show off -- as you would have to be logged into my Google account to see my (170+) feeds and my pile of reading. But they now allow you to identify items for sharing. This is the public webpage of my GoogleReader shared items. They also allow you to post clips of your most recent shared items on your blog (so you should see them on the upper left of my blog page).

iGoogle is Google's home page option for you. Again, you can't see mine unless you log in as me. But I can tell you it's got feeds from my various social software tools -- my LibraryThing catalog, my del.icio.us account, my GoogleDocs, my Gmail, my GoogleReader, etc., plus a "to-do" list that I maintain.

GoogleNotebook allows me to make notes and mark websites for later reading/action. I can share these notebooks, e.g., Barb and I shared one in planning for this workshop. While we have read/write privileges, GoogleNotebook also has an option to make a notebook public -- so you can see what we have in our notebook called Social Software Workshop.

Will Richardson over on Weblogg-ed recently asked the blogosphere:

Seriously. I want to know. What do you do when you read a couple of sentences in a post or article that really resonate? How do you capture and organize those snippets? What tools do you use? How often do you recall those sentences, access them? How do you search for them? Is your process working?

Lots of people answered him -- and I couldn't resist adding my two cents:

Like so many others posting here, I’m a huge fan of Google Notebook, available wherever there’s internet access, from any machine. Definitely download the Firefox extension, so with one right-click, you can pop in a snippet and a link.

When I go through my Google Reader inbox, I make entries in my various Google Notebooks of things I want to follow up on or want to make notes on (though, yes, I also use del.icio.us to log websites, as well as diigo).

I maintain a number of notebooks and it’s easy to move notes from one to the other. For example, one is for “Books of interest” — definitely useful before heading to the library or bookstore. Another notebook holds my “Notes on books read”. Yet another is “Articles to think about”.

As a teacher-librarian, I work with a variety of classes on different units of inquiry — and I create a new Google notebook for each one. It lets me build up ideas, links, etc. to sort through later.

In a couple of weeks a friend and I are doing a short workshop on Social Software for fellow teachers and we’re using a “shared” Google notebook to log and comment on sites, ideas, quotes, etc.

My “General” notebook is useful for logging things like airplane ticket reservations (so I don’t have to wait for the confirmation e-mail to arrive in my in-box — I just clip the relevant information and feel safe to leave the ticketing webpage).

I use iGoogle as my personal homepage so my Google notebooks are readily available (along with my Gmail, my Google Reader, etc.) Yes, I’m a Google fan…


GoogleDocs is another way to collect and share information. You can upload text documents, spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations -- and invite other people to become collaborators. Barb and I also use it frequently to give each other access to documents -- rather than attaching Word documents to e-mails.

Nov. 19: Just discovered that those clever folks at The Common Craft Show have produced one of their super-simple explanatory videos for GoogleDocs: GoogleDocs in Plain English
The folks at Google are constantly coming up with new ideas (during that 20% of their free-thinking time).

Google Custom Search Engines (though note, they're not the only ones out there) are a powerful tool, especially for teachers/librarians who want to enforce some quality control on students' searching. You get to specify exactly which sites and/or pages will be searched. I've already created several for my primary school students, e.g., Ms. Day's General Search Engine for Kids and an Aztec Search Engine. Both only search sites that I am confident have information at the level of primary school students.

Another more recent addition to the field is DeliGoo, a del.icio.us search engine. It's a Firefox extension that allows you to search just the websites tagged in a del.icio.us account, e.g.,

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