Blog as a Web research tool

April 29, 2008
WWW's Image via Wikipedia

My colleague Andraž Tori in Twine has nicely proposed to try product Zemanta.

I have downloaded www.zemanta.com and test how it helps me to create a new post.

It’s the first post for testing.

At the right is the suggested image from the Gallery

Below is an extract from the suggested article

http://www.blogherald.com/2008/03/27/zemanta-for-bloggers-good-idea-bad-idea-or-great-idea/

Previously reviewed by TechCrunch, Zemanta offers itself as a useful tool to help make blogger’s post “more vibrant.”

Currently available only in Firefox and Internet Exploer (the latter still in beta testing), Zemanta’s main goal is to provide to help bloggers find relevant links to their articles by suggesting related content through words and images on the side (after you install it).

One of the great things about Zemanta is that it actually scans the web for Creative Commons content, so bloggers will be able to post useful images without the fear of being sued by an angry photographer/artist (provided they link back that is).

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Web research tools, Part 2 – information STRUCTURE

April 18, 2008

When we collect and save selected Web information (full Web pages or snippets or extracts or portions or clips or …) we need to understand a STRUCTURE of saved information.
There is a lot of different terms to describe the same information unit part.

Main parts of information:

  • Title (it may be a title of source or part of the first sentence of the selected snippet). In a lot of tools it is saved AUTOMATICALLY.
  • URL of information source (usually saved AUTOMATICALLY).
  • Category (or folder or collection or notebook or …). It is the highest level of information topic. Sometimes the categories (or folders) can consist of subcategories or subfolders. A set of categories names should not be very large and you should understand and remember the list of your categories. If a tool has a hierarchical structure of categories (or folders) it is easier to browse (scroll) collected information without using search tool.
  • Tag (or list of tags) of the snippet. A set of tags differs from taxonomy or ontology and tags are added very easy during saving information or later. But in any case it is recommended to create not only a list of tags but a set (network) of tags or a simple table with such columns: main term (tag), higher level tag, lower level tag, related tag (tags). Typically you can add tags during saving or later during analyzing and evaluatin the collected information. Different tools enable to see a list of tags (sorted in different ways), tag clouds (or infoclouds) where you can see a level of tags using frequency etc. The best solution is to use some tool for tags set visualisation, e.g. http://www.thebrain.com or bubble.us. In some tools you can use only ONE word tags, in other – a few word for the one tag and in the third tools – hierachical tags (created as a complex tag (HigherLevelTag:LowerlelvelTag) or hierarchical structure of tags. Tags enable without searching to browse (scroll) information units that contains the selected tags. Some tools enable to use in search only ONE tag, other – use in the query a few tags and the third – use both tags and words of information unit text (both in text part and in the images or handwriting parts)
  • Comments. Some tools enable to add comments as an independent box (field). Other enable to add comments inside the saved inforamtion snippet. There are different possibilities to search inside comments of the selected category.

Web research tools, Part 1a USING – analysis

April 7, 2008

When we use information collected by Web research tool one of the most interesting and important processes is an ANALYSIS of the collected information.

To enable better analysis you should structurize information:

  • create one or a few categories (folders). The cateogry is the top level of information structure.
  • create tags as part of your future analytiucal report, e.g. state_of_the_art, list_products, feature_1, feature_2, conclusion, introduction etc.

A few tools enable to create hierarchical folder system and easy move collected inforamtion from one folder to other.

Other tools enable to create tags that consists of a few parts, e.g. Web_research: introduction.

Some tools enable to use an advanced search. It measn that you can enter a feww tags to the query.

Therefore when you install web research tool at first you need to understand how to structurize your information for your future report or review.


Web research tools, part 1 – USING

April 6, 2008

Term “Web research tool: has a number of synonyms:

  • Web-based research tool
  • online research tool
  • e-research tool
  • internet research tool
  • Web clipping tool

Tools using main stages (processes):

  • CAPTURING and SAVING (storing) selected (clipped) information (FULL or PART (portion, excerpt, snippet).
  • ORGANIZING and REORGANIZING (managing)the collected information
  • EDITING the collected inforamtion
  • USING of the collected information
  • SHARING the collected information

At first I shall describe how to USE the collected information

1. Generating a draft REPORT (or exporting the selected information units)

Main options:

  • in HTML format (you can browse draft report, copy and paste it to Word document)
  • in Web research tool own format
  • in other formats

Typically you select a folder or category and then export the selected information.

Other option is to copy and paste selected information units.

2.Generating a draft BIBLIOGRAPHY as a second output

Two options:

  • The tool has a feature to generate bibliography of different types.
  • In draft report you delete all unnecessary information and leave only bibliography

3.SCAN or SCROLL collected information

At first you select:

  • ALL folders or
  • one folder.

Then you scroll typically in two ways:

  • Scrolling a list of titles
  • Scrolling full information units

Typically main Web research tools enable:

  • To scroll in the tool
  • To browse a selected information unit as an original source in the browser

4.SEARCH information

You can search in different ways:

· Selecting a tag (after selecting previously a folder or category) from the list

· Selecting a few tags

· Typing any tag or word (when you start typing a tag you sometimes can see a list of tags)

· Typing a few words

5.UNDERSTANDING of information

If you collect small snippets (extracts) then it is rather easy to understand a short text or a small information unit (e.g. image).

Therefore when you want to save a large snippet it is recommended to save one large and a few smaller parts.

When you try to understand a larger unit then sometimes it useful to:

  • Change colours of different words
  • Change the type (bold, italic etc)
  • Start a sentence in a new string.
  • Add your comments
  • Add new tags (later it will be easier to find using tags)

Different tools enable only a part of such features.

Other feature for easier understanding is the different viewing options:

  • Only a list of titles
  • Only a few string from any information unit
  • Full information unit.

When we analyze understanding a collection of information we need to think that we must at first to get a generalized view and later more detail.

6.EDIT collected information

There are two main types of tools:

  • Tools enabling editing
  • Tools that do not permit any editing

7.EDIT TAGS

When you retrieve information from your tool and analyze it can be very useful TO EDIT tags:

  • add new tags
  • delete existing or
  • change (edit) exisiting.

8.REORGANIZATION of the collected information

When you start using the collected information very often you see that you need to reorganize your information:

  • move to other folder (category)
  • delete folders
  • rename folders

9. FEEDBACK

Typically any tool has its own advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes there are errors.

Therefore it is recommended to create one folder (category) for feedback where you will save your proposals.


ZuluPad

April 5, 2008

What is ZuluPad?

ZuluPad is a notepad on crack. It’s a place to jot down class notes, appointments, to-do lists, favorite websites, annotated bookmarks, pretty much anything you can think of. The great thing about ZuluPad is that it combines the best parts of a notepad with the best parts of a wiki, a concept made popular by Wikipedia. The basic idea has been called a personal wiki or a desktop wiki. Say for instance, you’re a music major, and you’re studying Bach. You’ve taken notes on Bach in ZuluPad, and after a long 16 weeks have finally completed the semester. Sometime after the summer break, you’re taking notes on Beethoven, and your teacher mentions a way in which Beethoven was influenced by Bach. As soon as you type “Bach” into your notes, it’s underlined as a hyperlink. You think to yourself, “oh yeah, I know a few things about Bach”. So you click the link, and you can read all of your Bach notes. While you’re reading your Bach notes, you happen to notice a link to a page about Henry Purcell, and you can refresh your memory about him, too.

Or, for instance, imagine that you’re a salesman with 100+ clients. You recognize them all when you see them, but it’s hard to keep their names straight. You’ve jotted down an appointment to meet with John Smith in ZuluPad, and “John Smith” is immediately highlighted. You click the link, and you’re reminded that John hates fish, loves golf, tends to annoy you, but always orders a lot.

ZuluPad is now available in two flavors: The original ZuluPad is opensource under the GPL, and ZuluPad Pro can be purchased for $15

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Download Now (2.2 MB)

Clip2Net – Web clipping tool

April 2, 2008

Clip2Net  

Clip2Net is a free and simple screenshot program with built-in Web uploading for screenshots AND image files. Select a specific part of your desktop area and it upload to the Internet for free. You will receive a link to the image and code to use for publishing image on your blog, forum, or Web site. Drag your files into the Clip2Net Drop Zone or paste them from your clipboard to upload instantly.

Features

* Capture, annotate, and share screenshots online or save them to your PC.
* Upload and store PC files online by simply dragging them on top of the Clip2net drop box.
* Upload images and files that are stored in the Windows Clipboard.
* Get embed codes at the end of each upload session.
* View upload progress via status bar.
* Windows PCs only.

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