Wikiwand creates a little magic with Wikipedia

Wikipedia, a collaboratively edited, free-access Internet encyclopedia, was founded 13 years ago, yet looks almost the same today as it did when launched.I can still visualize the day I discovered Wikipedia a long time ago – back when it was new, limited, and certainly not worth using in any productive way. Now the story has changed, and wikipedia is a great place to get a quick bit of information, lead into a topic or get a definintion. I regularly hyperlink to Wikipedia in my blog posts, or in my subjects.

Here’s an example of a sentence;

This digital information ecology demands a new knowledge flow between content and digital connections.

The hyperlink leads to  a simple, effective retro-styled answer!

Information_ecology_-_Wikipedia__the_free_encyclopedia_and_New_Post_—_WordPress_com

Not a lot has changed since 2004, aesthetically at least. This is where WikiWand turns out to be a great help!

WikiWand is creating  the Wikipedia of the Future. Available as an extension for Chrome, Firefox and Safari, WikiWand takes seconds to install and serves up instant access to a very different ‘look and feel’ for Wikipedia each time you click a link to the site. WikiWand reels in all the elements from any Wikipedia article and presents them on its own domain with its own interface. As you can see here by comparing the  entry for ‘information ecology’  from Wikipedia and Wikiwand, the latter livens the presentation. Pages also have up  big, immersive cover photos, as well as more prominent thumbnails.

Here is the same page again – in Wikiwand.  The The same page at wikiwand now looks like this!

Information_ecology_-_WikiWand_and_WikiWand

WikiWand brings articles to life by featuring immersive cover photos, larger thumbnails and an advanced photo gallery. Navigation within articles has also been improved via WikiWand’s top menu bar and a fixed table of contents that allow users to easily find their way around an article, no matter where they are on the page. The personalized search bar shows results in preferred languages, featuring icons for people, companies, locations, etc. Additionally, WikiWand showcases audio, providing users with easy access to Wikipedia article narration and audio clips. By popular demand, WikiWand also includes a convenient preview when hovering over links. If you wish to use WikiWand’s interface by default, you can install the Chrome, Firefox or Safari extensions.

Wikiwand has gained some funding – let’s see how it develops.  It looks pretty good to me!  In the meantime, I highly recommend you give it a try. The more you use WikiWand, the more you notice little design touches that add to the overall experience.

Check it out at http://www.wikiwand.com/  Easier to view. Easier to navigate. What’s not to like?

From: Wikiwand makes Wikidpedia beautiful http://thenextweb.com/apps/2014/08/19/wikiwand-makes-wikipedia-beautiful/

Image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by kassemmounhem: http://flickr.com/photos/122638947@N08/13889171653

 

J3T – Judy and Tara talk tech

What happens when two friends get together, and pretty much impromptu, create 10 videos  in a few hours on 10 tech topics?

Tara Brabazon, Professor of Education and Head of the School of Teacher Education at Charles Sturt University,  Bathurst invited me (Courses Director, School of Information Studies in the Faculty of Education, Charles Sturt University , Wagga Wagga) to test this question.

The result was the J3T Judy and Tara Talk Tech series of 10.  Here we now have ten pebbles in a big digital pond – let the ripples begin…..  We introduce the J3T series here for you.

You will find the full series under the following topics:

J3T1 Email and the digital glut
Judy and Tara reveal strategies to manage the information glut. How do we control email? How do we stop email controlling us?

J3T2 Information Organization
Judy and Tara talk about how to manage information. How do students avoid plagiarism? How can software help to organize our ideas and sources?

J3T3 Managing Digital Lives
Judy and Tara explore how to differentiate our digital lives. How do we separate private and professional roles, on and offline? How is our understanding of privacy transforming?

J3T4 Creating rich learning management systems
Judy and Tara probe the problems and strengths of learning management systems. They explore how to create rich, imaginative and powerful environments to enable student learning.

J3T5 Open Access Resources
Judy and Tara explore the changing nature of publishing, research and the resources available for teaching and learning. They probe open access journals and the open access ‘movement.’

J3T6 Fast Media
Judy and Tara explore the challenges of fast media, like Twitter and other microblogging services. While valuable, how do we control the speed of such applications to enable interpretation, analysis and reflection?

J3T7 Sound and Vision
Judy and Tara explore the nature of sonic and visual media. When are sound-only resources best deployed? How do we create reflection and interpretation on visual sources?

J3T8 The Google Effect
Judy and Tara probe the impact of the read-write web and the ‘flattening’ of expertise and the discrediting of experts such as teachers and librarians. Judy also demonstrates the great value of meta-tagging.

J3T9 Are books dead
Judy and Tara asks the provocative question: Are books dead? They explore the role of platforms – analogue and digital – in carrying information to specific audiences.

J3T10 The future? Mobility
Judy and Tara discuss the future of educational technology. Particularly, they focus on mobility, through mobile phones and m-learning.

PS  I did not get my mowing man to text me at the right moment in ‘Managing Digital Lives’ – what a hoot!

Image: Blue Water cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Louise Docker

23 Mobile Things everyone should know

Holiday time or not, the time is right for you all to go and investigate 23 Mobile Things – a wonderful professionally delivered opportunity to learn a few important life-skills for working and living in online environments!

The background

I’m sure most of you have heard about 23 Things for Professional Development - an open-source program for librarians. There are many variants of this course which was first developed in 2006 by Helene Blowers and the team at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenberg County, and now the newish kid on the block is 23 Mobile Things, a course revolving around digital and mobile technologies.

Who created this course?

“The first version of 23 mobile things was developed in Danish by Jan Holmquist. This version of the course is an international collaboration, Jan Holmquist from Guldborgsund-bibliotekerne (Denmark) and Mylee Joseph and Kathryn Barwick from the State Library of New South Wales (Australia) are working together to build the English language version of the course. You’ll learn more about this excellent initiative and how you can learn more about the potential of mobile tools at 23mobilethings http://23mobilethings.net/wpress/

In Australia we have had a few derivatives of the original 23Things program, some of which charge hard cash to participate, which is not in the spirit at all of the 23Things model that was openly shared with the global community.

So it’s a real pleasure to see this latest initiative! The course is open to anyone with a tablet or smart phone. It is a self-paced learning course, with the 23 things providing a framework of resources to look at and information to consider. It can be done at anytime; there are no time-limit or deadlines for the course.

So it’s time for you to consider getting started – jump on into the self assessment survey, then head on over to investigate The Things.  Great for anyone working in libraries, and schools.  This new 23MobileThings is a fantastic initiative. Thank you.

23 Mobile Things …. the list.

  1. Twitter
  2. Taking a photo with a mobile device:  Instagram / Flickr app / Snapchat
  3. eMail on the move
  4. Maps and checking in
  5. Photos + Maps + Apps: Historypin / What was there / Sepia Town
  6. Video: YouTube and screencasts
  7. Communicate: Skype / Google Hangout
  8. Calendar
  9. QR codes
  10. Social reading: RSS / Flipboard / Feedly / Goodreads / Pocket
  11. Augmented reality: Layar
  12. Games: Angry Birds / Wordfeud
  13. Online identity: FaceBook and LinkedIn
  14. Curating: Pinterest / Scoop.it / Tumblr
  15. Adobe ID
  16. eBooks and eBook apps: Project Gutenberg / Kindle / Overdrive / Bluefire / Kobo, etc.
  17. Evernote and Zotero
  18. Productivity tools: Doodle / Remember the Milk / Hackpad / any.do /  30/30
  19. File sharing: Dropbox
  20. Music: last.fm / Spotify
  21. Voice interaction and recording
  22. eResources vendor apps
  23. Digital storytelling

Image: 23 cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by erix!

Open Access – the good, the bad and the ugly

Open Access has become a major theme of interest within the research community and those interested in dissemination of information and knowledge.

In the debate around Open Access, the sadness around the loss of  Internet activist and programming star Aaron Swartz highlights that we have much to learn, and little time to learn it. Computer hacking Swartz was a vocal open-access campaigner, and died at the age of 26. Swartz was integral in creating RSS, and created a company that later merged with popular internet destination Reddit. However, more recently he was investigated for hacking JSTOR, the subscription-based journal service, and extracting its database with the intention for public release. For more on Swartz – and the impact of his work on free-data, and the world he leaves behind – read Lawrence Lessig’s piece “Prosecutor as Bully.” BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow also has a must-read tribute to Swartz, including information on the organization, DemandProgress, Swartz helped establish.

But what exactly is Open Access?    In this video  Nick Shockey and Jonathan Eisen take us through the world of open access publishing and explain just what it’s all about.

Historically, the two main types of obstacles to information discovery have been barriers of awareness, which encompass all the information we can’t access because we simply don’t know about its existence in the first place, and barriers of accessibility, which refer to the information we do know is out there but remains outside of our practical, infrastructural or legal reach. What the digital convergence has done is solve the latter, by bringing much previously inaccessible information into the public domain, made the former worse in the process, by increasing the net amount of information available to us and thus creating a wealth of information we can’t humanly be aware of due to our cognitive and temporal limitations, and added a third barrier — a barrier of motivation.

Open Access publishing is aiming to bridge the gap in higher education areas. Good research should have no boundaries. Here in Australia the Australian Research Council (ARC) is the largest funder of basic science and humanities research in Australia. So when the ARC talks, academics listen. The ARC has introduced a new open access policy for ARC funded research which takes effect from 1 January 2013. According to this new policy the ARC requires that any publications arising from an ARC supported research project must be deposited into an open access institutional repository within a twelve (12) month period from the date of publication.

In most cases, this open-access publishing will occur through electronic institutional repositories – university websites where one can freely download researchers’ articles. Search engines such as Google Scholar will automatically index these articles and link them to related research. The resulting stream of freely available research will be a boon for our society and economy. But it’s not perfect, just a step in the right direction, as publishers also get ‘a say’ in what happens with published information.

Check the ARC Open Access Policy for more information. While  the ARC policy will shift some power away from the publishers by putting institutional repositories centre stage, there is a counter-flow that is not in the same spirit of Open Access. Just because public domain content is online and indexed, doesn’t mean that it’s useful.

Beall’s List of Predatory Publishers

The gold open-access model has given rise to a great many new online publishers. Many of these publishers are corrupt and exist only to make money off the author processing charges that are billed to authors upon acceptance of their scientific manuscripts.

Scholarly Open Access showcased the Beall List of Predatory Publishers 2013. The first includes questionable, scholarly open-access publishers. Each of these publishers has a portfolio that ranges from just a few to hundreds of individual journal titles. The second list includes individual journals that do not publish under the platform of any publisher — they are essentially independent, questionable journals.

In both cases, the recommendation is that researchers, scientists, and academics avoid doing business with these publishers and journals. Likewise, students should exercise some caution when reading and referencing these articles in their own academic learning.

Follow Scholarly Open Access for more insights into the contentious field of Open Access publishing.

Image cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by kevin dooley