After much debate, mrmerlot.com has moved to its new home here at evercurious. All posts have been ported over and visitors are encouraged to update their bookmarks.
The decision to move is not very glamorous. Mrmerlot.com was set up as a site to offer musings, insights, and repostings from various domains. The moniker “mrmerlot” was originally chosen as a Twitter username and was a convenient domain name. It reflected both the “blend” of topics on the site (as merlot grapes are often blended with other grapes) and as a reflection of the bourgeois nature of the site (as merlot is often sneered at by wine snobs).
However, the name also seemed to erroneously attract Googlers and others looking for a site about wine. This confusion cannot be placed on the user, obviously, so an effort was made to identify a new domain name.
evercurious came out of the realization that the topics posted to the site are a reflection of, and encouragement toward, a curiosity of the world we live in. From technology to education, health to art, entertainment to science, posts steer readers toward things that are changing our world or are being changed by it.
Hopefully this transition goes smoothly. There is no site logo or theme setup as of yet and since there’s no SEO or Google ranking to speak of, there won’t be much that falls through the cracks. Please provide comments or feedback (on this post) about the new site name or what you’d like to see more/less of moving forward.
And, as always, stay curious!
Read a follow-up post outlining the advantages of Diigo over Delicious.
This past week, many tech media outlets reported that the social bookmarking service delicious.com was going away (see here for example). They based the story on a leaked internal Yahoo! presentation showing delicious in a “sunset” column (sunset is the IT project management term for retiring a technology). After a huge outcry from loyal delicious users, the delicious blog posted the following:
…we are not shutting down Delicious. While we have determined that there is not a strategic fit at Yahoo!, we believe there is a ideal home for Delicious outside of the company where it can be resourced to the level where it can be competitive…
This seems like a paltry attempt to try and retain users in the hopes they can salvage some market worth for whomever is considering acquiring the service. On the other hand, since Yahoo! acquired the service, no real innovation has been made, so sticking with the site may be good for users.
Unfortunately, I don’t think many will stay around.
I’m watching and participating in a fascinating experiment unfold in the movie industry. The main character in this case is Donald Miller, author of a number of best-selling books on life and nontraditional Christian faith.
The first book I read by Miller was Blue Like Jazz. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend it. BLJ instantly hooked me on his take of the modern church and his journey of faith. In a series of essays, Miller discusses events from his life and how they impacted, or were impacted by, his faith and involvement with church. His journey is, at times, thoughtful, funny, sad, and inspiring. Occasionally, all at the same time.
But this story is about more than just a great book being transformed into a movie. It’s about witnessing what might be the next major shift in the film industry. A shift that includes putting fans back at the center of the process and flipping the way they interact with films.
In an Telegraph article from 12 September titled Think Tank: Flip-thinking – the new buzz word sweeping the US, Dan Pink tells the story of Karl Fisch, a math teacher-turned school district technologist-turned math teacher again (due to budget cuts). In the article, Pink tells the story of how Fisch is taking a novel approach to teaching in his public school classroom. Pink certainly wastes no words in this article, packing it full of ideas for a wide range of industries.
Picture this: You’re in a room filled with very smart, very talented, very knowledgeable individuals. You’re teaching them about the latest in Enteprise 2.0 tools – wikis, blogs, RSS, social bookmarking, social networking. You’re explaining the advent of “Web 2.0,” the rise of the prosumer, and how all these tools have changed the way people interact and the way we capture and retrieve knowledge. You get head nods, some skeptical looks, and some glassy-eyed individuals who, as you get into the technical how-to of the first tool asks…
“What’s a URL?”
Oh, OK, so you’re not familiar with web technology (that’s over a decade old)… I can explain that…
“Exactly what does a ‘web browser’ do?”
Hmm, now I’m getting a bit worried. You’re not familiar with what a web browser is? OK, deep breaths, we’ll get through this together...
“What’s a right-click?”
<groan> Uh-oh. Better step back and take this a little more s-l-o-w-l-y.
That’s the position I was in recently. Working with obviously smart folks who had been so consumed by their areas of of expertise (or management), that the world of technology had passed them going 100MPH. For some, that happened five years ago, for others, ten. These are folks who still think one wrong keystroke is going to crash their computer, that computers are “scary” and fragile, and hard to use. These is the digital immigrant crowd which is a far cry from the four digital natives I come home to (ages 8 mos to 6 yrs) who, in a matter of minutes, learned how to use my iPod Touch as well as me.
I’ve watched as the browser has become the key (or only) “application” you need to launch, as more applications move to the web, and as user interfaces for these various systems becomes more intuitive, friendly, and consistent. But I’ve been watching. The students in my classes haven’t.
And so it was with relief when the lightbulb went off that I needed to create an 3 hour introductory hands-on web workshop to help students become familiar with what many of those reading this post would consider mainstream or even passe. This would help them understand the nature and capabilities of the collaborative tools on the intranet.
Because the very nature of the Web is that of an ebb and flow, deciding which sites to highlight is difficult and has changed frequently in the short time I’ve taught the class. So I need your input…
What are the absolute, essential, can-not-miss web sites/applications you feel an “Internet N00b” should be familiar with? I’m not talking the latest-and-greatest (though services like Google’s Buzz could be considered). Below, I’ve listed the ones we currently teach to, but I encourage you to critique this list in the comments.
Social and Collaborative Web Sites for the Internet Neophyte
- Gmail. Arguably, the most popular and best email service on the web.
- Key points: ISP-independent email address; integration with other Google Apps (one account, many sites); lightweight
- Google Maps. Once a rival to Mapquest, has become the de facto standard for getting directions.
- Key points: Free maps, integrated with Android mobile operating system, allows users to add photos, create custom maps, and recommend changes.
- Google Docs. Online creation and storage of common files. Don’t worry, we’re just getting warmed up with this Google fan-boy love.
- Key points: Creating sharable documents, spreadsheets, and presentations; work collaboratively with other authors; create web-based forms that feed data in Excel-exportable spreadsheets.
- Wikipedia. Accuracy arguments notwithstanding, this pinnacle of crowdsourcing is still enviable.
- Key points: Anyone can edit, uses MediaWiki which is open sourced, grew bigger and faster than its predecessor Nupedia.
- Flickr. The go-to photo sharing site for many.
- Key points: Anyone can upload photos; tags link photos with similar photos; users can subscribe to get updates from users or albums.
- YouTube. Like Flickr, but for videos…
- Key points: Similar to Flickr, anyone can upload; tags help you find similar videos; users can subscribe to other users, tags, channels; videos can be embedded in blog posts.
- Google Reader. The power of RSS and subscribing to web content so it “comes to you.”
- Key points: So much new content, RSS helps you filter and “dial in” the information you want to get; integrated with Google Translate, which automatically translates web sites in foreign languages.
- Twitter. Still the king of microblogging/messaging.
- Key points: Used to transmit links, thoughts, “lifestreaming”; unlike Facebook, Twitter is asymmetrical; can use GPS location data; integrated with Google Translate to convert “tweets” into your language; URL shorteners are handy, but you need to exercise caution lest a rogue user (or hacked account) links to a malware site.
- Facebook. The monster of social networking sites for the US, despite changing privacy settings recently and removing…privacy.
- Delicious. Store all your web bookmarks on a web site instead of inside your browser.
- Key points: Allows you to access from work, home, anywhere!; tags provide more flexibility than folders; tags provide for maximum discovery; use RSS to keep track of all new bookmarks saved by another user or saved to a tag.
Your turn! Which of these should I dump or replace and which ones need to go on the agenda?