More On Google Buzz

Announced it yesterday, test-drive it today. I like that kind of instant gratification. I have been playing around with Buzz for the last hour or so. Do you use Gmail? Do you have a Google Profile? Just go to your Gmail inbox and you will see a little “buzz” icon right below your inbox button.

Clicking on it will take you into the Buzz stream composed of people you follow already in Google Reader or have contact with via your Gmail. The very first Buzz pane includes a little welcome to the service:

There is a standard status box at the top to be used for creating a new Buzz pane. But you can also email your post to buzz@gmail.com. You also can use the @ convention from Twitter to send a Buzz directly to a certain person. If you already have created groups in Gmail / GReader, you can send your Buzz to specific groups, via a drop down box in the Buzz pane.

You can connect external sites to Buzz, allowing it to serve as a social aggregator of sorts. When you do so, the experience starts to look a LOT like Friendfeed. You can comment on and “like” Buzzes, just as in GReader. The serial Buzz panes from your follows with likes and comments closely mirror the Friendfeed experience. In fact, Friendfeed is one of the external sites that you can import into Buzz.

As I post this, I am watching the number of new “Buzzes” in the GMail tab grow. In the past minute, over 20 new Buzzes have appeared. This kind of volume is certainly expected on the service’s first day – it will be interesting to see if the number tapers off as the shine dulls.

Once you comment or like a Buzz, subsequent updates will appear in your inbox. There are ways to silence the inevitable onslaught – there is a mute switch for posts that are particularly busy. You can turn Buzz off completely at the bottom of the screen. You always also can set up a filter for Buzz updates that routes them to another folder separate from the inbox.

I haven’t played with the location features yet, but I understand that you can get Buzz information when you point your mobile browser to buzz.google.com. Updates can be tagged with your location and you can see other Buzz posts from nearby.

My early impression is that it is an interesting marriage of email and Friendfeed. Not necessarily a bad thing, although I balk a bit at the mixing of my information sources – I am not completely convinced my email and my social networking should be intermingling in the same venue. They still serve different functions for me. Like Wave, Google may be trying to accomplish too much with a single application. Nonetheless, I am intrigued by the possibilities. If I can get over the learning curve of Buzz, it theoretically could collapse down my list of places I visit on a regular basis.

Oops. Now there are over 50 more unread Buzzes showing in the tab. Gotta go!

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Digital Curation Or Horder Syndrome?

The news du jour is all about curation. Digital curation, that is. I have noted a higher than average concentration of writing on this topic over the past few days. Clearly, people are interested in it. And that makes good sense to me.

What is digital curation? In its broadest sense, curation is the act of organizing and maintaining a collection of artworks or artifacts. Libraries and museums are excellent real world examples of curation. Digital curation refers more narrowly to the process of establshing and developing long-term repositories of digital assets, per Wikipedia’s entry on the topic. Good luck finding a more concrete explanation than that.

I will try to provide one. For me, digital curation is the gentle swirling of the prospectors’ pan while looking for lumps of gold among the gravel. Through this blog, Reader shares and various social media posts, I attempt to act as a digital curator – I spend my on-line time scanning readers, blogs, tweets, and other content for interesting information that may be useful to me and to people who subscribe to my content. I am a human curator and, hopefully, I provide a shortcut to better information through my blog posts and other social networking channels.

There are other ways to secure curated content. You can employ web tools that automate the process of material selection. The best of these automated offerings will attempt to “read” your interests and respond accordingly.  Google Reader has recently incorporated a setting called “magic” that purports to sort the mountains of content and push the news most likely to be of interest to you to the top of the pile. Feedly, the fantastic add-on for Firefox and now Chrome, does the same and takes it a step further by presenting the content in an easy-read format with precise controls over preferred sources. Lazyfeed, another Web tool, reads your tags and content from various media channels and funnels back to you the most relevant blog entries from across the ‘net. my6sense,an iPhone application, utilizes an algorithm called “digital intuition” to interpret your reading and sharing habits and feed back the content you are most likely to find compelling.

Other services, like MeeHive, Regator and Collected, organize and present the information in logical streams so that you can “cut right to the chase” of the particular news topics you are interested in.

For me, services such as these are a necessary antidote to the out-of-control flood of barely curated content flowing through Twitter and other social media sites. Apart from my few trusted resources, I find it difficult to use Twitter as a news source, particularly since I have no control over the arbitrary content choices  within the stream. The search function helps, but does not assure me that the “curator” is up to my standards. Time spent clicking on links and verifying the validity of the sources is better spent diving right into trustworthy content. As more and more content is generated, all of us are going to need proper curation to save us from web horders.

The list of helpful tools cited above is not exhaustive. It does offer a starting point for anyone interested in separating the wheat from the chaff. Rest assured the number of digital curation tools will be expanding – web experts such as Steve Rubel have taken the position that the future of the Web is digital curation and services that direct the flow of relevant information that is absorbed quickly, easily and smoothly. Rubel’s reasoning is that web denizens are “attention strapped.” I would describe it more as overstimulated. Effective digital curation is the cure for the overwhelm.

Do you have tips, tricks or tools to help you sift through to the diamonds? Please share with the class in the comments!

 

The Advantage Advocates' Value-Add

FaceBook PrimaryAs Studio readers may or may not know, I have a business providing research, writing, Web content development and consultation, Advantage Advocates. A few months ago, I made a push to increase the fan base for AA’s Facebook Fan Page with the promise that I would provide on that page more than just Studio posts to reward a potential fan for agreeing to sign up. I mean, why sign up to be a fan of the AA page, when you can simple subscribe straight to the Studio through RSS or on Facebook itself through the Networked Blogs application?

It has taken few months, but I am happy to report that I have indeed come up with a value-add for those interested in becoming a fan of AA’s Facebook Fan page. These days, Google Reader is my number-one source for cutting edge information across the law and technology spectrum. The majority of my blog posts sprout from the seeds I discover in Reader. The problem for me is that there is simply too much interesting stuff going on to write about it all in long post format.

I heavily share items I find in Reader on Twitter and Friendfeed and occasionally share on Social Median. You can subscribe directly to my Google Reader Shared Items and even connect with me in a mutual sharing arrangement within Reader. However, up to this point, I have been generating good content across multiple formats, with Friendfeed offering the most comprehensive collection of Studio-curated material.

Until now. It has taken me the better part of a Sunday to figure out how to get both Studio posts and Reader shares onto my Advantage Advocates page, but I believe I have done it! By becoming a fan of the Advantage Advocates page on Facebook, you can get both Studio posts and Google Reader shares in a single location. I have to tell you, there is some great stuff that I only share through Reader and don’t promote to full blog post status, so if you are a law and tech info junkie, the AA page will now offer a nice “one stop shopping” experience.

I would love to offer all this great content to you! Please stop by my page at http://facebook.com/advantageadvocates, check it out and “fan” if you would like to add this stream to your daily digest! And keep on the lookout for more “value-adds” on the page!

The Advantage Advocates’ Value-Add

FaceBook PrimaryAs Studio readers may or may not know, I have a business providing research, writing, Web content development and consultation, Advantage Advocates. A few months ago, I made a push to increase the fan base for AA’s Facebook Fan Page with the promise that I would provide on that page more than just Studio posts to reward a potential fan for agreeing to sign up. I mean, why sign up to be a fan of the AA page, when you can simple subscribe straight to the Studio through RSS or on Facebook itself through the Networked Blogs application?

It has taken few months, but I am happy to report that I have indeed come up with a value-add for those interested in becoming a fan of AA’s Facebook Fan page. These days, Google Reader is my number-one source for cutting edge information across the law and technology spectrum. The majority of my blog posts sprout from the seeds I discover in Reader. The problem for me is that there is simply too much interesting stuff going on to write about it all in long post format.

I heavily share items I find in Reader on Twitter and Friendfeed and occasionally share on Social Median. You can subscribe directly to my Google Reader Shared Items and even connect with me in a mutual sharing arrangement within Reader. However, up to this point, I have been generating good content across multiple formats, with Friendfeed offering the most comprehensive collection of Studio-curated material.

Until now. It has taken me the better part of a Sunday to figure out how to get both Studio posts and Reader shares onto my Advantage Advocates page, but I believe I have done it! By becoming a fan of the Advantage Advocates page on Facebook, you can get both Studio posts and Google Reader shares in a single location. I have to tell you, there is some great stuff that I only share through Reader and don’t promote to full blog post status, so if you are a law and tech info junkie, the AA page will now offer a nice “one stop shopping” experience.

I would love to offer all this great content to you! Please stop by my page at http://facebook.com/advantageadvocates, check it out and “fan” if you would like to add this stream to your daily digest! And keep on the lookout for more “value-adds” on the page!

Feeding Your Quest for Shared Knowledge with Feedly

Image representing feedly as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Part two of an impromptu two-part series on my latest content browsing and sharing tools focuses on Feedly. Feedly is a Firefox add-on developed in 2008 and seemingly in a constant state of growth and innovation. Feedly aggregates your RSS and shared content and follows you around the web so that you can easily gauge the discussion from pretty much anywhere you go. Describing itself: “Feedly is a Firefox extension which weaves twitter and Google Reader into a magazine like experience.” The “win” part for content gathering is that Feedly will “read” your interests and attempt to float the cream to the top of the list for you.

Up front is a slick magazine-like interface that is easy to navigate, expand, share from and comment upon with real-time aspects. Feedly highlights material deemed most relevant based on your interests, reading patterns and recommendations from friends. It pulls articles from Google Reader, with the ability to add feeds directly into your Feedly. It pulls your friends and other information from other social sites, such as Twitter, Yahoo, Gmail and Friendfeed.

Feedly attempts to suggest and refine your information based on the data it can pull and the preferences you can enter. Along the left side of the home page are buttons to change the view – cover, digest and latest. Each show similar information in different aspects and focus. Cover offers the greatest breadth, with the top few stories from your various feed categories in a series of columns at the top, the number of new articles from your featured sources list, a video gallery based on your interests, your Twitter stream and mentions, your “karma” (more on that later), and a suggested Twitter search item. Flickr photos grace the bottom.

Digest offers a long list of articles with a blurb in a single column, with your featured sources and less Twitter information along the right side, as well as the video and Flickr gallery. Latest looks a whole lot like Google Reader showing the titles only of posts in reverse chronological order, but with a cleaner interface and pretty much nothing else.

Here is a screen shot showing the top portion of my Cover view:

feedly cover

Setting changes are made from your dashboard, via the access button at the top of the home page. Feedly strongly suggests grouping and organizing your feeds in categories to maximize the experience. Changes made in Feedly will be applied to Google Reader and vice versa. My Google Reader categories were sucked into Feedly automatically.

Use the “favorite” button – a star next to a feed title – to mark your best sources so that these items can be highlighted on your page. You can even assign views for each feed, depending on how you prefer to see the information from a particular source: titles only; title and summary; picture grid; video grid; and, entire content inlined. Much of the housekeeping in Feedly can be easily accomplished with drag-and-drop, so it is easy to set up and subsequently change your viewing experience, albeit a somewhat time-consuming process.

The articles are equipped with buttons to like and share. This adds value to your own experience by tailoring subsequent information coming to you and adds value to your social network by offering articles of interest to them. When you expand an article by clicking on its title, you will see more of the article, as well as buttons for keeping the article unread, highlighting semantic metadata, previewing and copying the link. The semantic metadata button will highlight semantic concepts in the article, providing background information in a pop-up on the concept and offer  a link out to more fully explore that particular concept in Feedly from your sources, news, Twitter + Friendfeed and across the web. You will also see how many recommendations the article has and a list of buttons to share on Twitter, Delicious, Friendfeed, Gmail, Facebook and in both Feedly and Google Reader with a note. At the bottom of the expanded article, you will see the how many times it was clicked on in the Tweet stream, Friendfeed conversations, and the likes and comments the article has garnered in Google Reader and Feedly.

You can keep track of what your friends are sharing and what they are saying about the articles you share in your Feedly. Karma is a section of the cover that shows you how people react to the material that you share. It shows what you have liked and shared. It also shows the number of clicks on the item and where else it has been shared.

You can find all of your shared and saved items easily from a button on the left of the main screen. You also can pull your recent history. All of these are great features to help you track where you have been and what you are doing and where you might like to return in the future.

Another VERY cool feature of Feedly is Ubiquity integration. I have written about Ubiquity on the Studio before, praising it for streamlining and integrating web services with quick keyboard clicks. Just install the latest version of Feedly and the latest version of Ubiquity to start using and generating your own commands. Feedly also integrates Google search, via a bar at the top of the your home screen.

Feedly can shadow your wanderings as well. As you work your way around the web, a little Feedly mini bar shows up at the bottom of the screen showing how many times the site has been shared on other sites, like Friendfeed and allowing you to share or save the article in Feedly or Google Reader, share on Twitter, email using Gmail and navigate to another article that Feedly will suggest based on your interests and prior likes and shares. Here is a great image diagramming the mini tool-bar from Sarah Perez’s article on the subject at ReadWriteWeb:

Feedly Mini (ReadWriteWeb)(edited)The Feedly mini toolbar knows if an article has been a popular subject on Friendfeed. If so, a pop-up will show up with a bit of the conversation, allowing you to jump over to the conversation on Friendfeed and join in. All of these features can be selected / deselected.

Your personalized Feedly can be accessed from multiple machines, provided they also are running Firefox.

Feedly is all about tailoring your news sources and making them easier to scan, read and share. To say it is an all-encompassing experience might be an understatement. I find that Feedly has completely supplanted my Google Reader-ing with its easier-to-review look and NASCAR pit crew-sized box of tools. And Feedly seems ravenous about evolving and becoming more, better, faster, stronger, able to leap tall buildings in single bounds, etc.  If you don’t have Feedly or Firefox, you definitely owe it to yourself to make the switch!

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