Sunday, April 22, 2007

What Why & How to Tag

Tagging 101: How To Get Started

To understand what tagging is you need to understand
what is Folksonomy - a core Web 2.0 principle. I believe failing to understand the power of this new phenomena, is one of the leading causes for new users in failing to adopt many of the new Web 2.0 services.


Four reasons why you need to start tagging:

1. Tagging is easier than categorizing. Rashmi Sinha's post "A Cognitive Analysis of Tagging provides two brilliant diagrams that represent the frustration behind the paralysis by analysis effect when we tried to find the "right" or "best" category to file. Then she illustrates the tagging process which shows you how it cuts off the last step making it easier and more enjoyable to label.

2. Tagging makes it easier to remember and find. Since you can apply multiple tags, you can sort, search, and file under multiple contexts.

3. Folksonomy allows you to tap into the wisdom of the crowds and jump on the long tail of the collective intelligence and emerging trends. Exploring and browsing through tag clouds allows you to discover trends and interests that you may otherwise never have been able to think of to type in google or stumble on.

4. Folksonomy is social and leads to sharing. You have the ability to find like-minded individuals and tap their brains, tastes, interests, and favorite sites.


Although their is no set standard and controlled vocabulary here are some general guidelines to get you tag clouds started on the right foot.

1) Use keywords.

2) Use multiple tags.

3) If you are going to use multiple words with in one tag use an underscore. Example "professional_development"

4) Be conscious of nouns and verbs when tagging. If I find links that are resources about how to blog, I will tag it them under "blogging." If I find some interesting blogs I tag them with "blogs."

What is Folksonomy

Schools need to stop teaching the Dewey Decimal System and start empowering our students with folksonomy. Understanding folksonomy is critical in order to adapt and survive in the "New Read/Write Web 2.0". The folksonomy revolution is pushing this current "Social Web2.0" into the "Semantic Web3.0." This new classifying phenomenon has reformed the way users organize, share, search, and label their digital pictures ( flickr), bookmarks (delicious), and videos (youtube) collections.

Folksonomy, folk + taxonomy, is a new way to organize and label information using tags. Tags are keywords that give meta data, data about the data, which enable classification. Furthermore, folksonomies are social and collaborative because they use "cooperative classification and communication" that builds a collective intelligence for users to contribute and tap into. A better way to define folksonomy is to explain what is not.

*Non-binary: With folksonomy, you can apply multiple tags to data rather than choosing just one category to file under.

: Instead of top down folders and sub folders, tags are organized in tag clouds where the more popular a tag the bigger the size. The following picture is an example tag cloud surrounding the concept of Web2.0.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What, Why, & How to Set Up a Start Page

OBJECTIVE: Why and how to get your new start page (2.0) and webtop (web+desktop) set up.

Start pages and home pages are the customized pages you are welcomed to whenever you first open up your Internet browser. Yes, I know, yahoo and msn have been doing it for years, but what I would like to introduce you to is the new and improved start page - 2.0 style. This new batch of start pages has given freedom back to the users and is quickly evolving into the realm of webtop - a web-based virtual desktop that runs multiple mini web applications (also called widgets) that are all embedded within your Internet browser window.
So meet my personal favorite 2.0 start page: netvibes

1) YOUR PERSONALIZED (NOT COMMERCIALIZED) WEB- I pull the parts of the web I want rather than having it pushed on to me. Before netvibes, I was sheltered and trapped in my msn & my yahoo start pages for years, which offered some personalizing but only within their restricted, censored, and filtered limits. They would only allow you to embed their specific content, their own email services, pics, and links of the day, and read the headlines only from the newspapers they were buddied up with. All of their content was pushed down on you and was meant to keep you close, not allowing you to wander too far from their neighborhood, in order to stay within their monopolies and alliances of businesses and advertisers.

But going back even farther (in the mid 90’s), before I got started with start pages, I remember web surfing sessions that felt forced & frustrated, almost always begun with me sitting at a search engine page unable to decide where to begin. 

Eventually this turned into a computer screen with 23 separate windows open, each with a different site, and me feeling lost-not knowing why and where I started. Then I would struggle to figure out what good folder name I could make in a sub-folder of a sub-folder in my favorites so I could actually remember to come back to and check up on updates of sites I liked. I would also naively give out my personal email address to subscribe (1.0 old-fashion style) to those sites I did want to keep updated with. But this didn’t work, all it did was fill up my inbox with a bunch of span and remind me how un-updated I had become.

Now with netvibes, anytime I open my web browser, I have my favorite websites, blogs, podcasts, photos, videos, and hot links of the day being pulled and brought to me via RSS feeds from those sites that I filtered and I subscribed to. Think of the Internet like TV, early on there where only a view channels like ABC & NBC (yahoo & msn), but then came satellite and cable giving us hundreds of channels to choose from. Yet, still most people stick to the same few channels because they get overwhelmed or just forget about all the rest of the possibilities out there. My netvibes start page experience is similar to watching TV on wide screen with “On-Demand” and TIVO. It’s Like “On-Demand” because it only pulls from the channels (websites) I want. I am only reading, watching, or listening to websites that I choose to subscribe to-all free, no premium, and an infinite choices. Netvibes acts like a TIVO or DVR because it is constantly tracking, recording, and saving all my favorite channels (the websites) and shows (the content) I want to stay current with and allows me to experience them on my time. In essence netvibes is my aggregator, or master TV guide, that presents to me a very efficient and consolidated view that allows me to quickly scan through simple headlines to choose from. Keep in mind, this is all done commercial free.
Until you empower yourself with a personalize start page like netvibes and start subscribing to RSS feeds of your choice, you will never be able break free of the often commercialized and filtered pipes that the yahoo and msn portals keep you locked up in. Although it may seem intimidating to leave the familiar yahoo and msn worlds and enter more deeply into the “techie-geek” layer of the web and technology (with their culture and jargon) it can be done. I have done it and I have stepped out to help bring more educators and “digital immigrants” back in. This is the mission of this post and this blog. Entering the new web is easier than it sounds. It’s like eating an elephant, one bite at at time. Once you start subscribing and joining social bookmarking networks like digg and delicious, (which will be the next part to this series), you will begin to pick up on an Internet beat, pulse, and vibe. It has been through this method, receiving daily updates from trusted sources of the hottest links, trends, and news of the web, that I have been able to hop on this new web2.0 wave.

2) A COMPLETELY PORTABLE WEBTOP: My office desktop goes with me anywhere I go. Before I caught on to netvibes, I struggled with my productivity between school and home. My school issues me a Mac for the classroom, I have a dell desktop in my home office upstairs, and I sometimes like to work on my old laptop while watching TV with my wife downstairs on the couch. I had to convert files and email attachments back and forth. I would get frustrated because an email was downloaded onto one computer and no longer accessible to another. I didn’t have access or I couldn’t tell if I had read an email or not. I would forget a “to do” list at school, or forget to print of my task list in Outlook at home. I wouldn’t be able to remember a link, its user name, and password that I had “favorited” in one Internet browser on one computer. Technology was frustrating me and forcing me to go back to old fashioned methods of pen and paper.

But then came netvibes into my life (I swear they are not paying me to write this am just a loyal and very happy user). So I eventually started migrating some of my desktop software applications off my computers and onto the web using web applications, aka webapps or webware and their widgets, aka gadgets. I will be covering webapps and widgets in Part 4 of this series, but in a nutshell, for now webware is like software that runs inside a window of your Internet browser while you are online. The big important differences are you don’t need to download and install them on your computer and it allows you to create, save, print, share, collaborate, and access from any computer that is connected to the web. Furthermore, what netvibes can do is embed multiple webapps all in one page. So in essence, by logging into just your start page you are also logging into multiple web apps that you can access and use at the same time, all in one place, from any computer. And did I mention that web2.0 webapps are almost always free?

For example, when I login into my netvibes-besides getting updates from my favorite websites and scanning all the major mainstream headlines, checking my local weather, TV guide, and stocks-I am also logging into and accessing all of my webapp accounts, services and widgets. These include the following: google calendar, contacts, “to do lists”, sticky notes (all replacing Outlook), my “delicious” bookmarks (online bookmarks that replaced “my favorites” stuck on your computer), my storage (online storage account), a count down timer, alarm clocks, my bank accounts, all my email accoutns (gmail, yahoo, and hotmail) and all my instant messaging accounts (AOL, yahoo messenger, and googletalk). And, mind you, this all done while I am usually listening to a podcast, watching youtube videos, and scanning flickr pics - all being done without ever leaving my home.

Hopefully you are convinced and ready to set up your new home inside the new web2.0 world. You need to remember 3 great principles of web2.0 before you get overwhelmed. Most of the time these new web technologies are usually free, very easy to figure out, and do not require any downloads.
The three links below will guide you through step by step on how to set up your netvibes start page using screencasts - a tutorial that is a video recording of a user actually working on their screen of their computer. There will be more on screencasting in a later post.
1) The best, quickest, and most complete tutorial I have found is called Screencast: Netvibes Tutorial
2) This next one netvibes Screencast: Setup, Configuration, Tab Sharing is from an ed-techie, who not only guides you through the process of registration but gets into tab sharing and explains some of the educational implications that a start pages like netvibes could have on mainstream education
3) If you don’t like the screencast format of the demos here is a simple and well organized written tutorial from the netvibes ecosystem (a community of users that help and share with each to build and make it better-another core principle of the participatory web2.0 culture).

- Watch the screencasts above
- Register and set up your netvibes home page and
then set it as your homepage (on your Internet browser menu bar click “tools” then “options” or “preferences”)

Monday, April 9, 2007

What, Why, & How to RSS and SubscrIbe

RSS Button

OBJECTIVE: To describe what is RSS and to explain how and why you should use it subscribe to content.

(UPDATE: FIRST  WATCH:  Video: RSS in Plain English)


RSS stands for "Rich Site Summary" or "Really Simple Syndication. It's symbol is usually represented by an orange box with rays or waves pushing outward (see image in this post also in the sidebar under the Syndicate section). What RSS means to the Internet surfer is it allows you to subscribe or "pull" the content from the websites, blogs, vblogs (video blogs), and podcasts they want to stay up to date with . This is in contrast to the old web1.0 way of subscribing where we had to give up your email address and then have the webmaster "push" emails into your inbox.


1) GET A RSS READER/AGGREGATOR. In order to subscribe to RSS feeds you first need to get an RSS Reader. The readers acts as an aggregator, which gives you a personalized newspaper of all the headlines from all the sites you have subscribed to. These headlines are usually phrases or short sentences that link to the site with its complete content. So this allows you to scan all the headlines in an efficient and customized way from all your trusted and most popular sources. The best way to utilize your aggregator is to make it your start page because it starts all your Internet sessions with your web coming to you. My MSN, Yahoo, and Google start pages are some of the most common, however they can limit you to subscribing only to their own content. I use netvibes, to keep track of all my favorite and subscribed podcasts, videos, news, trends, and websites (see my previous posts What, Why, & How to Set Up a Start Page ). I also use google reader to manage all my blog subscriptions. I prefer the web-based, rather than download software on to one computer, RSS Readers because I can access, read, and subscribe from any computer. And I prefer netvibes to the big names because if its web2.0 features and it doesn't shelter you and limit you to the big names and their partners.

2) SURF & SUBSCRIBE. While you surf look for the RSS symbol or subscribe button and click. If you have a big name RSS Reader, some blogs and websites will provide a shortcut button to click and then it automatically throws your subscription into you reader. If not you may have to manually subscribe by cutting and pasting the RSS feed into your reader.  Now that you have your RSS Reader set up, when ever you find a site you enjoy and what to stay up to date you can simply click and subscribe.

3) PRACTICE: SUBSCRIBE TO THIS SITE NOW. Since I realize the importance and the future of RSS and subscribing in the new web I have built in multiple places you can easily click and subscribe to this site. Once you click on these links it will bring you to page that gives a bunch of shortcut buttons to easily subscribe to all of the big name RSS Readers like your Yahoo, Google, or AOL start pages, or netvibes, bloglines, pageflakes, feedlounge, your minis, and list goes on. But if you use a less common feedreader, again you can always cut and paste the feed address you see up in the address bar with the RSS orange button next to it and manually drop it into your feed reader subscriptions. The three ways you can subscribe to this blog (and most others) are:

*At the bottom of this and all of my posts, thanks to feedflare and wordpress pluggins, I will always have a "subscribe to this feed" link that you can click on.

* In the margins of this blog in the sidebar under "Syndicate" you can click on the RSS link, RSS symbol, or one of the shortcut buttons for Google, Yahoo, Netvibes, or Yahoo below.

*Click on the RSS button in the address bar to get the feed address and manually cut and paste it into your reader.


1) Subscribe to this site

2) Watch this video by Peoria Unified School District 10 min video entitled What Is RSS?

3) Read an interesting blog post about how one techie journalist explains his RSS feed reading workflow methodology

4) Watch this screencast on how to subcribe to RSS feeds using Firefox

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

EdVibes Main

Click here to visit EdVibes Main site


Click here to fill out a quick form and we will get back to you


What is EdVibes?

Who is the author?

Monday, April 2, 2007

Mind Mapping: A Guide & Resources



Must watch video below by the father of mind mapping Tony Buzan

Read about the right and left hemisphere brain thinking

Bottom line it is the natural way the brain thinks, learns, and remembers.


Watch another great video:

Click on the image above to zoom in. From

Listen to an excellent podcast about mind mapping.

Download XMind a free concept mapping software

For more videos on mind mapping see

For some examples of mind maps see