Things worth tweeting about

What a couple of weeks of change!  If you have been watching your twitter stream or RSS feeds you couldn’t help but be surprised by some of the juicy tid-bits that have occupied social media. I can’t remember a week like this one for a while, which makes it all the more interesting as I prepare for my next round of subjects. One of these is #inf206 Social Networking for Information Professionals, a subject in which we not only use new media tools, but we explore ways in which we can use them to empower library services.

So here we are with a list of things for #inf206 to think about, and for the rest of us to be bemused by!  I’ve plucked these tidbits from my tweets in the last few days.

According to Search Engine Land  Google Wonder Wheel feature has been taken offline. A group of users who also used Wonder Wheel for keyword discovery and to spot relationships and new concepts were educators, librarians, and students. For example, a librarian might use it to help a user find new words to search with not only with but also using other databases. A teacher or student might use Wonder Wheel to identify ideas for a research project. Will Wonder Wheel be back and available soon? Google didn’t provide a timeline or commit one way or another if it will or will not be available in the future. At the same time  Google Realtime Search has also gone off line. Google’s agreement with Twitter to carry its results has expired, taking with it much of the content that was in the service with it.

Meanwhile, of course, Google is occupying out social media time as we explore Google+. If you are interested, you can go look at 25 Google+ tips to enhance your Google+ experience. I like the way Google+ operates on my iPhone, but right now the idea of the personal shift required in moving to Google+ is ….well looking like a holiday job! Read Google Plus (Google+): The Painful Realization and you’ll see what I mean.

As an aside, I also was interested in a press release from IBM. For the first time, scientists at IBM Research have demonstrated that a relatively new memory technology, known as phase-change memory (PCM), can reliably store multiple data bits per cell over extended periods of time. (instantaneous memory 100X faster than flash) Solid-state flash memory is widely used as a storage medium in tons of consumer devices, from cell phones to laptops like the MacBook Air. While it has big advantages over hard drives in terms of speed and a lack of moving parts, it has a limited lifespan. Now IBM researchers say they’ve crafted a way of encoding data that works better than flash—and has a greatly increased lifespan. Where flash memory can typically be overwritten only 3,000 to 10,000 times, PCM can endure in the order of 10 million write-erase cycles. Read more at PCMag.

OK, I admit I don’t understand this fully – but I do understand that it promises more of what we like -  FAST FAST FAST!

Meanwhile, in the global business world of books, Amazon.com has announced that it is set to acquire The Book Depository, a UK-based online bookstore that offers more than six million titles and ships to more than 100 countries. The Book Depository was founded in 2004 by Andrew Crawford, and in the last financial year its turnover was thought to be in the region of £120m.

So the rush of technology continues, and surprisingly we still can’t seem to quite believe the shift that technology is having on books. After all, we have been making the content for ebooks ever since we shifted from hot-metal presses to digital composition – so even before we had good ebook reading capabilities we were preparing for 21st century book experiences. I can’t be bothered engaging in the ‘best e-reader’ debate – because in the end the shift will happen somehow or another.

The promise of eBooks is definitely flipping our idea of what is possible. With the release next week of the pocket-sized, ultra-light ”flipback” book, it will be possible to enjoy the feel of a printed novel and the portability of an e-book. The books measure 12 by 8 centimetres and weigh less than 150 grams, barely more than an iPhone. The format was invented in 2009, when Dutchman Hugo van Woerden, the CEO of Christian printing house Jongbloed, was looking for ways to use excess Bible paper. He put the lightweight, high-quality ”onion skin” into a series of miniature sideways books that can be read with one hand, perfect for crowded buses and trains.  Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/books/new-books-look-to-flip-ereaders-20110702-1gvym.html#ixzz1RBjLqHMT

Still more free eBooks from the Internet Archive

A group of libraries led by the Internet Archive have announced a new, cooperative 80,000+ eBook lending collection of mostly 20th century books on OpenLibrary.org, a site where it’s already possible to read over 1 million eBooks without restriction.

According to the Internet Archive post/release, any OpenLibrary.org account holder can borrow up to 5 eBooks at a time, for up to 2 weeks. Books can only be borrowed by one person at a time. People can choose to borrow either an in-browser version (viewed using the Internet Archive’s BookReader web application), or a PDF or ePub version, managed by the free Adobe Digital Editions software. This new technology follows the lead of the Google eBookstore (which we don’t yet have in Australia!), which sells books from many publishers to be read using Google’s books-in-browsers technology.

Openlibrary.org is worth a visit, if only to see some of  1,000,000 free ebook titles available.

The World’s classic literature at your fingertips!

How about Down with skool!  A guide to school life for tiny pupils and their parents published in 1953. That’s one I have to check out – should be funny or perhaps frightening, depending on what’s inside!

But really – this sort of development is exciting. While the books are ‘old’ – they also include some quality literature. Lot’s of  good reading to while away the time, or expand the mind.

Kindle ~ I buy:you borrow!

Just another way of crowd sourcing and sharing! LENDLE just may be worth a look!

If a fellow Lendler requests a book you own, you’ll get a notification asking if you want to lend it.

When you lend a book, the borrower will have it for 14 days, and then it will be automatically returned to your Kindle.

Turning a new page – eBooks and Audiobooks

Congratulations to the fantastic team at Loreto Normanhurst Learning Resources Centre for getting their ebook initiative up and running successfully.

This is just one wonderful example of what can be done in schools to support literacy and reading enjoyment – particularly where the students are keen to use their mobile devices to enjoy the world of books.

Fired up by BlueFire Reader

I have so many e-options to help me  do what I like doing a lot – reading for leisure and information. I wish I had more time – you know how it is – so flexibility is pretty important to me. So let me tell you about BlueFire Reader and where it might fit into my readers toolkit!

My Kindle provides me with books for pure pleasure, as well professional reads – which is great, because I love being able to take notes, and be able to search through the book for key topics. Better still, these books synch right across to my iPad, so no excuse – I have the book when I need it.

Now I’ve also decided to subscribe to some of my favourite magazines with Zino. Costs less than a paper subscription – plus I can read the same issue on my iPad or on my computer.  Even better – no magazine back copies strewn around the house.

Today I found out about BlueFire Reader for reading encrypted Adobe ePub DRMs.

I also use Adobe Digital Editions flash-based eBook reader for eBooks from my Uni library – a great way to keep up-to-date with various academic publications as it’s free, flexible, and so easy to use!  eBorrowing and eReturns!  Amazing.

Now here’s another great tool called BlueFire Reader that I have to explore!

We built Bluefire Reader because we value the unique curatorial voice of each bookseller and we wanted to provide book lovers with the freedom to buy books where they choose. Bluefire Reader supports Adobe eBook DRM because it’s become an industry standard across a wide variety of booksellers and public libraries. Adobe DRM allows you to transfer books that you’ve purchased from many different locations between your reading devices and personal computers.

If you have spent years buying PDFs and ePubs, this is the App for you!

Download this app to your iThing and then authorize using your Adobe username and password. The Bluefire App allows you to take notes. Just highlight the section that you want to bookmark and the note section will show up. For a new app, the reader seems pretty sophisticated.It also retains the epub page numbering, which is a boon.

To get your ENCRYPTED epubs on to your iThing, open ITunes and click on the App tab. Scroll to the bottom until you see something like this:App document section

Highlight Bluefire App.

Open your “My Documents” folder or “Documents” (on MAC). There is folder called “My Digital Editions” (created by your Adobe Digital Editions tool).

Digital Editions folder

Open this folder and then drag the books you want from Digital Editions folder onto the App section.
Transfer ebooks

Readers can use the Get Books feature of Bluefire Reader to browse and search for books from a wide variety of online sources as well.

Full post and information at  Dear Author: a blog by Readers for Readers.

Innovation and attention ~ locally

For many  campuses [and schools], the question is which learning technologies to support locally to support deeper student engagement with learning.

The information in the Horizon Report, published annually by the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) and the New Media Consortium (NMC), can help.2 The report identifies and describes the key trends and critical challenges associated with those emerging technologies that are likely to have a significant impact on teaching, learning, creative inquiry, and student engagement in higher education over the next five years. It categorizes six areas of emerging technologies within three adoption horizons: a year or less, two to three years, and four to five years. A quick review of the report and its vast collection of examples and practices can serve as the preliminary research needed for an institution to proceed tactically.

This article from Educause Review addresses three technologies from the 2010 Horizon Report: electronic books, mobile computing, and open content. Both mobile computing and open content are within the one-year-or-less time-to-adoption; electronic books are in the two-to-three-years adoption horizon.

Read the full articleDeploying Innovation Locally.

Other articles in the  current issue Attention, Engagement, and the Next Generation — Volume 45, Number 5, September/October 2010 – are also worth reading.

Howard Rheingold’s article has some important points for us all to consider in  Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies. Always enjoy reading Howard’s thoughts!

If we want to discover how we can engage students as well as ourselves in the 21st century, we must move beyond skills and technologies. We must explore also the interconnected social media literacies of attention, participation, cooperation, network awareness, and critical consumption.
Although I consider attention to be fundamental to all the other literacies, the one that links together all the others, and although it is the one I will spend the most time discussing in this article, none of these literacies live in isolation.1 They are interconnected. You need to learn how to exercise mindful deployment of your attention online if you are going to become a critical consumer of digital media; productive use of Twitter or YouTube requires knowledge of who your public is, how your participation meets their needs (and what you get in return), and how memes flow through networked publics. Ultimately, the most important fluency is not in mastering a particular literacy but in being able to put all five of these literacies together into a way of being in digital culture.