Web 2.0 in various parts of my life

Web 2.0 tools such as forums and online work spaces tend to be a very useful resource to me. These days, I think nothing of hitting up forums for anything I’m interested in locally, such as for conventions and events. Whilst in my University assignments, my first thought insofar as group work is concerned is to create a new Google group for collaboration purposes.

Internet Forums are an interesting thing. If I had to describe them in my own words, they work a bit like youtube’s commenting feature works, except that initially you’re presented with a page of “Threads” to choose from. Once you click on a “thread”, you are presented with an opening post, which generally denotes the topic, and you’re free to reply to discussion contained in following posts.

The most use I get from them is from either organising my own public video gaming events, or in collaboration with others. I find this effective because my target market with gaming events are generally (in my experience) those who would find out about these events through the internet. They’re also an effective means of creating discussion spaces that are visible to everyone, and can be referred back to as well. It comes back to the idea that older forms of communication create closed channels that are visible to only a select group of people.

Ever since the beginning of Uni, I’ve tried all kinds of Web 2.0 tools to collaborate with team members. I’ve tried wikis, and google documents before, but I’ve found that Google Groups have worked best for me. Google groups is a service that provides a workspace for you and invited contributors (though they may also be made public) to start discussions, create pages and upload files for sharing. In a sense they work like Wikis, but the integration of email services which email users of updates in discussions and of new discussions has made it invaluable. Chris in this blog post notes on the usefulness of google groups in a business situation, one of the biggest advantages being that it is a free solution to file sharing that is hosted in the cloud.

Discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world!

That’s the slogan of the popular Social, Web 2.0 service ‘Twitter’ that you hear about all over the news and that people talk about all the time. However admittedly I’ve never seen a need to really try it out or want to try it out. Micro-blogging, isn’t that what facebook is for?

Nonetheless, my Enterprise 2.0 unit at university seems to encourage the investigation of Web 2.0 tools and services I’ve not tried before, so off I went. www.twitter.com went into the address bar and before I knew it I was registering an account and verifying my email address. The set up process seemed very welcoming, giving me a range of topics and categories to start adding twitter accounts for me to follow. Clicking on Australia gave me Kevin Rudd’s twitter account, so I followed that, whilst ‘technology’ gave me Bill Gates, so I followed his too.

The next step saw Twitter analyse my gmail account for twitter account holders I’ve got in my contacts, giving me a list of people I’ve emailed who’s twitter accounts I could add. I chose to add the twitter account of a website I follow daily called ‘SixPrizes’.

The last step let me search for any person or organisation I could think of. I searched for ‘Nintendo’ and added Nintendo America’s account.

Clicking done took me to a page where I could ‘tweet’ a message for followers to see, and also see the tweets from the people and groups I’d chosen to begin following. Kevin Rudd just got out of hospital and a bunch of WiiWare games have been added to Nintendo’s online distribution service for the Wii.

All that was left was to use the service as it is intended – that is to ‘tweet’ a message for all of my potential future followers to see:

“Launching into the world of twitter for the good of my Bachelor of IT degree!”

I think the thing I like about Twitter is that it’s a lot like Facebook in that you’re kept up to date with people’s thoughts and feelings and messages, but that’s it. It’s not cluttered up by applications, social games, photos. It’s quite literally a concise mini-blog.

As long as I was on a roll with Web 2.0 services that I’ve never used in any great capacity, I thought I’d try subscribing to an RSS feed. Being a Firefox user, I thought the first thing I’d try is adding a widget of some description just for this purpose and I found one such add-on called ‘RSS Ticker’ that (description) which I picked mostly since it had a high rating.

Once installed it asked me to subscribe to a news feed concerning web trends, so I clicked ‘ok’ and along the bottom of my firefox browser window came a scrolling bar of various news story blogs. I hovered over the bar, causing it to stop scrolling and clicked a link to a blog containing a blog post about a number of recent DVD releases.

After seeing this tool in action for just a minute, I can already envision myself adding a number of RSS feeds to it. By going into the tool configuration, it gave me the option to add more, so I added the RSS feed for www.smashboards.com and behold, the auto-scroll bar updated with links to new threads on that forum.

I think this goes to show that experimenting will go a long way. In Uni group work and my social life and even in enhancing my web browsing experience!