Monday, 19 September 2011

Thing 4: Current Awareness - Pushnote & RSS

The first part of Thing 4 was an exploration of Twitter. I'm new to Twitter, but beginning to understand understand how I can get the most out of it. For me, Twitter is about engaging with my immediate community and interests. So I tend to follow people rather than 'things' and 'news'. Streams like @BBCnews or @huffintgonpost quickly cluttered up my feed and I realised I wasn't really going to interact with them. So I use RSS feeds to follow my favourite blogs and news sources. Teaching information literacy within the workplace I'm a big advocate for both Google Reader and Netvibes.

Pushnote was something I had heard of, but never explored.

Oh how I hated it from the moment I signed up. But attempted to leave my first impressions behind and give it a go.

It's available on Safari, Chrome and Firefox. Great for use at home, but I'm limited to Explorer at work. A quick check on the iTunes store reveals it doesn't have an application for iPhone. So it rules out it's use for me. If I can't access it at work, I'd need to be able to use it on my phone instead.

Having said that, I'm why I would ever want to use this in a work capacity. According to the front page, it enables me to 'keep track of all the best things you and your friends find online'. Signing up, it seems I am an early adopter, and no-one I know has been brave enough to sign up yet. That's OK. I can hunt around for some interesting people I know professionally, right? My search options were to use an email address, or find people with their Pushnote Username. I quickly hit a blank wall. I don't know about you, but I don't have Phil Bradley's email address. But I do value his opinion of online tools and search engines. What struck me was that I didn't have the option to search for keywords in people's profiles, or find people that I might not necessarily know, but may still have some shared professional interests with. It does seem however, that with the concept of 'neighbours', as you post, Pushnote learns what you like and automatically adds relevant feeds to your profile. So perhaps with further use, I'd identify relevant people to follow.

Compare this with Twitter, where it's relatively  easy to find streams through the use of lists, hashtags and full text search across tweets, as well as several standalone applications that have been especially created for the job.

Within seconds of signing up, Pushnote had added several followers to my feed. Most of whom are Pushnote developers, or had little to do with my interests. I may be judging a book by it's cover, but I doubt I'm interested in the same kind of websites as someone who describes themselves as a 'Texan Ukulele Fan'.

Strike one. Strike two came when I attempted to save a favourite link. It was simple to add a URL. But there was no way of naming the website. There was a description field, but I ran out of characters pretty quickly. Hit save. Realised I hadn't given it a star rating. Could find no way of going back to edit the entry.

Further frustration came when I realised I'd added the entry to my 'top faves'. But if I wanted to add it to a category of favourite 'books' or 'movies' I would need to drag it into a separate list.

I didn't even bother adding the browser add-on. I'd run out of patience.

I came to the conclusion that I just couldn't see the point of it. Even the facility to post to Twitter/Facebook didn't convince me. Why bother? Just share the link direct on Twitter. I have a well loved tool I use to manage my online information resources. Diigo is sophisticated information tool which enables me to save images, PDF files and website links with various ways of retrieving them again.

I scratched my head several times over this one. If I were being generous, perhaps there was a case for academic librarians to use it in order to engage their students in finding high quality resources online. But I won't be recommending it as part of a suite of tools in my own Information Literacy workshops.

It's in Beta. I think it needs to make a lot of improvements before take-up of this tool increases.

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