12 January 2008

Using the Googles

My "to do" list and I are engaging in the ultimate battle of wills at the moment. It has far more items on it than is reasonable to expect accomplishment of within the weekend...and, it's the weekend, darnit. I'm not so excited about being a slave to my laptop. Again. So, I just spent a few minutes doing what any good procrastinator will do---doing something which wasn't on The List. Specifically, I've been perusing my Google Reader recommendations.

I resisted Google Reader for awhile. There was something very satisfying about working through the links on my sidebar and other bookmarks to see if anything new was posted---the possibility of surprise behind every URL. But as my interests have expanded and more and more blogs of interest were discovered, I needed something more efficient than opening a bunch of tabs in my browser. I have close to 100 different blogs in my Reader now, and I appreciate that it automatically updates. (Side note: For those of you wanting an RSS feed for this blog---that feature is now working!) I also like that it can be a repository for some blogs that haven't updated in ages, but I don't want to lose track of. I'll know if/when they resurrect themselves. Another benefit is being able to access all of my regular reads without having to bookmark a huge set of links on every computer. One other thing I like about using Reader is that every once in awhile, I get a list of recommendations based on what others subscribing to blogs on my list are reading. I would say that I run across more misses than hits, but that's what panning for gold is all about, right?

One very cool item I ran across was Simile: Timeline. Designed by MIT, this is a widget for creating timelines that work for the 4th dimension in the same way that Google Maps works for the other three. What a fantastic idea---the mind boggles with possibilities. I can see great potential for classroom applications, but also for reimagining one's calendar.

As you might imagine, I don't have just educational blogs among my feeds. Science and other items of personal interest mingle with all my favourite edubloggers. One of my new discoveries is The Superest. "The Superest is a continually running game of My Team, Your Team. The rules are simple: Player 1 draws a character with a power. Player 2 then draws a character whose power cancels the power of that previous character. Repeat." The imagination and skill which goes into the drawings delight and spark my own imagination.

Where else, but through blog feeds, might I have discovered a Dead Bug Funeral Kit? "The Dead Bug Funeral Kit comes with a 32-page Illustrated Buggy Book of Eulogies with Ribbon Bookmark, Casket, Grave Marker, White Clay Flower, Burial Scroll, and Pouch of Grass Seed. The Buggy Book of Eulogies contains 15 eulogies and 15 buggy illustrations for your Ant, Bee, Beetle, Butterfly, Caterpillar, Cockroach, Cricket, Doodlebug, Fly, Grasshopper, Ladybug, Lightning Bug, Praying Mantis, Spider, or Stickbug. The poems are eulogies told by children who have lost their pet bugs to fate. Each book is handmade one at a time. The Kits are assembled by hand as well. The Burial Scroll comes tied with a ribbon and deposited in the Casket. The Burial Scroll gives instructions for conducting burial ceremonies. Mourners may bury their loved ones outside in the garden or inside the tin box itself, filled with soil and planted with the grass seed provided." What a kick!

My only dislike about using Reader is the plainness of the delivery. So many blogs have wonderful templates and design, none of which is apparent when you look at things with a feed. However, if you've been reluctant to become a Google Reader, I still recommend giving it a try. You'll never know what you'll find in order to fend off your To Do List. :)


Anonymous said...

Perfect timing on your post. My grad class (Developing Literacy in MST) students are setting up their Google Reader accounts this minute.

The Science Goddess said...

I aim to please! :)

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Very rich post, SG. Thanks for all the good steers!

I use Sage from Firefox for RSS.

Now...on to your next post.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your reflections about "Reader."

-Stacey from Two Writing Teachers