Will you like this?

Yesterday, things were buzzing as Google turned on a new feature.  It’s called +1.  You can read about it here and there are instructions about how to turn it on for your account here.

When you turn it on, and you’re doing a search on Google.com (not Google.ca yet), you’ll see a little +1 icon appearing at the end of a search result.

According to the details at the link above, if you like the result, then you should click on the icon.  When you do, it changes colour like so.

This works, of course, only if you’ve logged in to your Google account.  This is the way that I do business as I have Google Docs and Gmail open all the time that I’m connected.

So, what does this all mean?  According to Google, it’s a vote of confidence for the link so that you can “give something your public stamp of approval, so friends, contacts, and others can find the best stuff when they search”. It sounds like an interesting concept.  We have seen it before.  How about


Both are signs of approval in their associated network.  So, it appears that you have the same functionality with your Google Search Results.  Everyone likes a good supposition so I’m just wondering what happens next…

Could Google combine thinks that you “+1” with its “similar pages” to help refine search results for you?

Could the use of the “+1” start a campaign to get rid of the SEO techniques that put undesirable results at the top of your search?

As indicated in the video, you’ll start to see +1s from your friends and relatives.  How will that happen?  It will certainly put more importance on having an active Google Profile.  In fact, in the short time that I’ve enabled this feature, when I look at my profile, the links that I have +1 have started to accumulate there.  This will certainly lend credibility to the speculation that Google is working to develop its own social network.  As noted also in the video, these +1s will start to appear on webpages.  Almost glossed over in the video was the statement that this will appear also in advertising.  That does seem to shed some insight on the message that’s been appearing in Gmail recently.

Could these better ads be based upon what I +1?

A simple little click has the potential to change a great deal about the Google experience.  The one thing that can’t be figured into the equation is that this customization is really “opt-in”.  If you’re not clicking the +1s, then you won’t have the approved results and you won’t be making recommendations to friends and family.  My initial reaction is that it’s going to take more incentive than that for me to do that.  After all, I would have to open the search result in a new window or backtrack to click the +1 button.  I’m not using the Facebook Like button regularly.  I don’t actually use the Tweet button much either.  I tend to Amplify these days so that the results get filed in my Amplog.  I’m going to be very interested in seeing how this plays out.  Could the +1s replace Delicious or Diigo as a way to aggregate links for some?  After all, many folks use social bookmarking just to collect links and that’s all.

I’d be very interesting in your thoughts about this.  Please leave them or Twitter them.

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OTR Links for 03/31/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

What’s in a Tweet?

If you have been following the news, I’m sure that you’ve been at least mildly interested in the story coming from the Bronx Zoo about a missing cobra.  WPIX has the story on their website.  Someone with a great sense of humour has created a Twitter account for the snake.  You can "follow" the snake at @BronxZoosCobra.  The tweets coming from this account are hilarious.

So funny, in fact, that I sent out a Twitter message indicating that this account was one of the best follows on Twitter right now.

He/She has one of the great avatars and a really good sense of humour.  Even if you decide not to be one of the thousands who are following the account, at least click this link and see what the snake has been saying.  At least one person read my Twitter message and replied.

In other news, I was in the Google Chrome store today and noticed a "new to me" Twitter client called Streamie.  One of Streamie’s claims to fame, other than running in the Chrome browser is that it updates in real time, very much like the Twitter plugin that I use with Seesmic Desktop or from the web through the Twitter website.

In fact, the first time I read the message from @jaxbeachteach, it was through Streamie.  It didn’t look like the above; it looked like this.


You’ll notice that the layout of the message and colouring is completely different but the content is exactly the same.

I’ve always maintained that all students should take at least one course in Computer Science.  There are the nay-sayers who feel that it’s not necessary.  "Programming is all gobbly-gook.  What’s important is being an end user and using the stuff"  Really?  You need to read or ponder Douglas Rushkoff’s book "Program or Be Programmed".  An excerpt from the book appears here.

Back to Streamie.

Another claim to fame of Streamie is that you can configure it to see the JSON code behind a Twitter message.  All that you have to do is enable it in the configuration and double click to see it.  For the message above, here’s the code.

"data": {
  "entities": {
   "hashtags": [],
   "urls": [],
   "user_mentions": [
     "indices": [
     "screen_name": "dougpete",
     "id_str": "8381832",
     "name": "Doug Peterson",
     "id": 8381832
     "indices": [
     "screen_name": "BronxZoosCobra",
     "id_str": "273531261",
     "name": "Bronx Zoo’s Cobra",
     "id": 273531261
  "text": "@dougpete @BronxZoosCobra I agree. The cobra has been the best entertainment. I hope he starts trending!",
  "place": null,
  "in_reply_to_user_id": 8381832,
  "favorited": false,
  "created_at": "Tue Mar 29 18:47:17 +0000 2011",
  "coordinates": null,
  "in_reply_to_screen_name": "dougpete",
  "in_reply_to_status_id_str": "52800615931314176",
  "source": "web",
  "contributors": null,
  "geo": null,
  "retweeted": false,
  "in_reply_to_status_id": "52800615931314176",
  "in_reply_to_user_id_str": "8381832",
  "id_str": "52804034662375425",
  "retweet_count": 0,
  "user": {
   "lang": "en",
   "profile_use_background_image": true,
   "created_at": "Mon Jan 19 20:42:22 +0000 2009",
   "profile_background_color": "C0DEED",
   "description": "Instructional coach and a member of the NSDC Learning School Alliance. Outside of work I cycle and try to keep very physically active to balance out my cooking.",
   "default_profile_image": false,
   "profile_background_image_url": "http://a3.twimg.com/a/1299876209/images/themes/theme1/bg.png",
   "show_all_inline_media": false,
   "geo_enabled": true,
   "time_zone": "Eastern Time (US & Canada)",
   "profile_text_color": "333333",
   "profile_image_url": "http://a2.twimg.com/profile_images/369193071/Jillk_normal.PNG",
   "follow_request_sent": false,
   "following": true,
   "profile_sidebar_fill_color": "DDEEF6",
   "followers_count": 188,
   "id_str": "19200920",
   "verified": false,
   "notifications": false,
   "profile_background_tile": false,
   "favourites_count": 6,
   "friends_count": 237,
   "url": "http://coachbydesign.blogspot.com",
   "screen_name": "jaxbeachteach",
   "statuses_count": 2077,
   "protected": false,
   "is_translator": false,
   "contributors_enabled": false,
   "profile_link_color": "0084B4",
   "location": "Jacksonville Beach, Florida",
   "name": "Jill Kolb",
   "listed_count": 10,
   "profile_sidebar_border_color": "C0DEED",
   "id": 19200920,
   "default_profile": true,
   "utc_offset": -18000
  "id": "52804034662375425",
  "truncated": false
"prefill": true,
"created_at": "2011-03-29T18:47:17.000Z",
"conversation": {
  "index": 131,
  "tweets": 1
"mentions": [
"mentioned": true,
"textHTML": "<a href=\"http://twitter.com/dougpete\" class=\"user-href\">@dougpete</a> <a href=\"http://twitter.com/BronxZoosCobra\" class=\"user-href\">@BronxZoosCobra</a> I agree. The cobra has been the best entertainment. I hope he starts trending!",
"hashTags": [],
"html": "\n<li class=\"tweet mention conversation131 \">\n\t<a href=\"http://twitter.com/jaxbeachteach\" class=\"user-href\"><img src=\"http://a2.twimg.com/profile_images/369193071/Jillk_normal.PNG\" alt=\"Jill Kolb\" width=\"48\" height=\"48\" class=\"profile_image_url\" /></a>\n\t\n\t<div class=\"status\">\n\t\t<p class=\"text\"><a href=\"http://twitter.com/dougpete\" class=\"user-href\">@dougpete</a> <a href=\"http://twitter.com/BronxZoosCobra\" class=\"user-href\">@BronxZoosCobra</a> I agree. The cobra has been the best entertainment. I hope he starts trending!</p>\n\t\t<ul class=\"actions\">\n\t\t  \n\t\t\t\n\t\t  <li title=\"Retweet\" class=\"retweet\" tabindex=\"0\"></li>\n\t\t\t\n\t\t  <li title=\"Reply\" class=\"reply\" tabindex=\"0\"></li>\n\t\t  \n\t\t  <li title=\"Quote\" class=\"quote\" tabindex=\"0\"></li>\n\t\t  <li title=\"Star\" class=\"favorite\" tabindex=\"0\"></li>\n\t\t\t\n\t\t  \n\t\t</ul>\n\t\t<div class=\"header\">\n\t\t\t<h3 class=\"h user-name\"><a href=\"http://twitter.com/jaxbeachteach\" class=\"user-href\">Jill Kolb</a>\n\t\t  </h3>\n\t\t\t<div class=\"time created_at\"><a href=\"http://twitter.com/jaxbeachteach/status/52804034662375425\"></a></div>\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\t<div class=\"in_reply_to_screen_nam\"><a href=\"http://twitter.com/dougpete/status/52800615931314176\" class=\"conversation\" title=\"Show conversation\">in a conversation with dougpete</a></div>\n\t\t\t\n\t\t</div>\n    \n\t</div>\n</li>\n\n\n",
"height": 103,
"age": 131089

Students of Computer Science would be able to read and decipher a great deal of the above code.  They would be able to understand what’s in a message.  They would understand how threads are built.  They would know how images are attached to messages.  They would understand the twitpocalypse and how Twitter had to scramble for indexing of messages because of its own popularity.  They would get a deeper understanding of how privacy and geo-locating issues are transferred in a seemingly innocuous message.

The best of Computer Science students could pull the content apart and write the code that would give a custom look to a Twitter message.  Some of the very best could actually write their own Twitter client!

Those that don’t understand could point out that one is blue and the other is green.  <tongue in cheek>

There really is a deeper understanding to what is happening in the device that you’re reading from at the moment.  Now, not everyone who studies Computer Science is going to write the next great Twitter client.  But, I would maintain that they do have a deeper understanding of what’s happening in their digital world.  Do we want students to be happy with being programmed?  Do we want them to grow up not being able to articulate what they’re trying to achieve or to explain when something goes wrong?  I don’t think so.

Even something as simple as a Twitter message about a cobra on the loose does reveal that there’s more going on with your computer and behind the scenes than what would appear on the surface.  It does make sense that we have the skills to be able to pull back the covers and have a sense of what’s happening inside.

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OTR Links for 03/30/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

News Junkie

Within the past hour, I have confessed to a friend that I’m a news junkie.  I read and try to understand as much as I can.  Consequently, I’m constantly looking for the best way to read what I want to read.  On my iPad, I have Zite, Flipboard, Pulse News Reader and the LCARS RSS Reader.  (all of which have had previous reviews on this blog!)  On my computer, I’ve experimented with a number of RSS readers and seem to have settled in on Google Reader and Newsquares.  On top of that, I do have the Newseum and a couple of other newspapers all queued up!

I read a number of blogs and some of my favourites, you’ll find on my own blogroll.


There’s lots of good reading to be had at all of the above sources.  Still, I search for more efficient ways to stay on top of things.

Normally, anything that I write about on this blog is part of my regular routine and I’ve tried them long enough to have an opinion.  But, given the conversation with @doremigirl tonight, I thought that I’d share a service that I literally signed up for this morning while reading something somewhere else!  It’s called Planetaki.  Their description of their service is:

A planet is a place where you can read all the websites you like in a single page. You decide whether your planet is public or private.

My first reaction was that this service would be a good way to assign reading assignments that involve multiple sources to students.  Just create a “planet” with all of the resources cued up for the students to read.  It probably would serve well in that function.  But then, I started thinking — could I use this to make me a more productive reader for the things that I read every day.

Essentially, when you create a “planet”, you put together websites that you want to read.  Planetaki then assembles the websites into a single reading document.  I would just scroll down the computer reading what I want to read.  It sounds intriguing.  Where to start?

I just happened to be looking at my Blogroll at the time.  Why not start there?  So, I created a “planet”.  I wasn’t alone.  Here are some of the recently created planets…


I figured that I better focus on mine.  I already was looking up and down the list eager to check out the other “planets”.  Now, these “planets” can be public or private but it seems to me that the best route would be to go public.  So, you can read my blogroll at http://www.planetaki.com/dougpete.  You can read the list – when I read it, the newest items are highlighted as new since the last reading.

As I’m creating this entry, two of the most recent posts where from Peter Skillen and David Warlick.  Planetaki gives a decent amount of a preview for the post with a link to the original post.  Not bad for a preview.  If an item is newsworthy, then I can click on the keep button where the story is preserved.  Viewing the complete post pulls in all of the artifacts from the original blog so that you can do things like add a comment, digg it, tweet about it, or whatever the author has configured.


As I kept checking the resource today, I realized why I have these resources on my blogroll.  They write great content and there were updates during the day.  As I mentioned earlier as well, there are some people with blogrolls that haven’t had a post in three years.    But, I guess it’s important to do some name dropping.

I took a look at it and really like it.  It definitely is sequential but when you bring up the “planet” on the iPad where scrolling is so important, it really performed nicely.  Ditto for the iPod Touch.  It does reaffirm to me that this would be the perfect tool for assigned student reading.  The only real problem that I’ve run into is adding Alfred Thompson’s blog http://blogs.msdn.com/b/alfredth/.  I get him plus a whole bunch of other Microsoft blogs.  They’re actually pretty good reading but not what I had in mind.

For me, I’m going to give it a shot.  I’ve made it a bookmark on my Tizmos page which is my default.  I’m going to give it a shakedown and see if it can’t change my reading lifestyle for the better and make me more productive.