Archive for the ‘Social Software’ Category

I’m sadly old enough to remember when LiveJournal was super-hip (and its emo younger brother, DeadJournal). Blogs are something I’ve pretty much “grown up with”. I’ve had quite a few in my time, personal and professional. Technorati is a blog search engine, and if nothing else I’m impressed it’s gone the distance where others (e.g. Google Blog Search) have fallen by the wayside.

I’ll admit to being at a bit of a loss as to why you’d just want to see what’s in blogs. You could Google your topic and blogs would come up. But not wanting non-blog information (unless you were researching and your scope was purely blog posts) doesn’t really seem quite right to me.

Anyway, Technorati seems fatally flawed to me. I did a search for “23 Things” – see below. Not only did my multiple 23 Things blog posts NOT show up, but NONE of the thousands of posts by thousands of people doing 23 Things around the world showed up! Even just clicking the 23 Things tag on WordPress finds you at least a dozen posts. It makes me wonder what it is that Technorati is actually indexing?


Verdict: Not going to be one of my suite of tools


skyping dog

The world certainly is a smaller place now, thanks to the internet. And Skype brings it even closer together, so that anyone who’s got a computer with a camera and microphone and internet connection can talk to someone else, no matter where they are.

I’ve been using Skype since 2011, when my son was born but his grandparents were living overseas for 12 months. We used to log on every few days early evening their time, pop the laptop on the floor and let them watch and talk to the baby for hours on end. Later, when our little boy was a bit bigger, we’ve used it when my husband has been away for work, so they can still have storytime before bed. We also used it for chats with a family member who spent a year studying at a university overseas. I’ve been using Google Talk (same kind of idea) as well, for meetings with other members of a state professional organisation committee where we’re scattered all over the state.

The downside is that the conversation is really only as good as your hardware and internet connection. It can sometimes be quite a production (especially at night) to get the lighting just right so your fellow Skyper can see you. We had lots of trouble talking to the family member at uni overseas as her 13th-century building, while lovely, had thick brick walls which were terrible for wi-fi access.


At the end of the day, nothing’s quite better than a proper hug from a friend. However, if you can’t, Skype’s a good (temporary) solution if the technology stars align in your favour!

I played around with Dashboards a few years ago (I think Google had one back then, from memory?) and wasn’t quite sold. I hate-hate-hated Netvibes then, it was so ugly and clunky, but I see it’s recently (?) had some cosmetic surgery and so in the name of science I’ll give it another go, and I’ll give Pinterest a go for comparison.

The idea behind dashboards is to start collecting things that you like and want to save for future use, or to show people. It could be RSS feeds, posts, or additional widgets built into the service. It’s kind of like your filing cabinet and mailbox in one. I’ll lay out my thoughts on each of the two options we were given below:


Easy start-up, but I entered to find my account pre-populated. That might not bug everyone, but it DID bug me. I had to spend the first two minutes of my experience deleting all the existing feeds, and so my excitement and drive to get started had been soured; I wasn’t gung-ho to start building it like I would have been with a blank canvas.

Next – There’s NO guidance and NO tutorial. Clicking things at random to try and see how to add something. Second time in two minutes NetVibes has made me cross. Yes, I know “ADD” should be self-evident, but some sort of bubble pop-up saying “add your first app here, let’s try it” would have been nice.  There’s a nice range of things you can add, but I don’t like that some things are Premium Apps ($$$) without indicating at first glance. And a couple of things promised apps, but then they didn’t work. Plus, a little voice in my head points out that “you know, your phone does most of this too…”

So maybe rather than being a tool for me, it’s a tool for me to show things to others. I wanted to link it here to show you, but since there was zero guidance on how to turn a private dashboard public I gave up. I don’t think I’d keep using it, but if I were a corporate social media manager I might have one for my organisation or company to collect and share lots of things. Maybe. Probably not.


One thing I didn’t like from the outset was Pinterest’s helpful “Let Pinterest personalise your experience based on other sites you visit. ” Hang on a cotton pickin’ minute! That sounds a bit stalker-y! So I switched that off. I think enough sites do creepy things like that (I’m looking at you, Google and Facebook) and I will decide what I share, not you, Pinterest! (Of course, that’s not to say Netvibes isn’t doing it behing my back…) The tutorial about how to get it to work was good – brief, practical and welcome because it’s maybe not the most intuitive of things from the outset.

I got to set up my board. It was very helpful in suggesting what I might pin. I pinned something. I lost my board. I found the board but the thing wasn’t there. I went round in circles and swore lots for 5 minutes. I got offered thousands of unhelpful other people’s photos when I just wanted mine. I found my board. It’s here if you want a look. (Though if I want to see it I have to open it in a new browser or I just see the editing tools. Dislike.) I think I was a bit let down that Pinterest was just photos. I think that limits it a bit. I know I can put links in to the description but if I want to share cute, funny, helpful or whatever photos, I’ll probably just do it on Facebook.

I guess this would be a quick way to put together a simple and user-interactive gallery – like if you were an artist, or had a small business making things. But I don’t think it’s for me – I can’t see it doing anything other than taking up time.


The Final Verdict

Dashboards put stuff from other places all in one place for you. They let you (in theory) share them with other people. I think they’d work well if you went in with a plan and a purpose and something to say with them they might work as a broadcast tool. But I don’t think they’d make life easier for you.