Wordle your way to some pretty cool art. In about a second. I was turned on to this web tool as an assignment this semester, strangely enough. The basic idea is that you make a collage with words, and then personalize it using options like font, color, spacing, and language. The result is pretty fun. For example, I pasted in the text of 1 Corinthians 13 — the Love chapter (for Valentine’s Day, of course). You can also do it using an RSS feed or del.icio.us links. So, say, you want to sum up someone’s blog in a visually interesting way, just Wordle it away!
P.S. — The NY Times has been using Wordle to create images in their ‘Visualization Lab.’ One that I found pretty interesting is Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address. Take a look around!
Filed under art, text, web 2.0
So apparently a one-world order is beginning in the mashed-up form of social networking, higher ed, and pure craziness. Enter the University of the People. Lightly blanketed communist bootcamp? No, just the brainchild of Shai Reshef, an entrepreneur who’s already done his share of online ventures in the business world.
While enrollment wouldn’t be completely free, costs would be kept low (estimated between $10-100 per course) and depend on the individual’s needs. And, of course, everything would be conducted completely online — no physical buildings needed.
This kind of open courseware has been around for a few years already in the US. Yale, along with dozens of other universities and colleges, have made certain courses freely available online (not for credit) to anyone with an internet connection and knowledge of the English language.
We’ll see how this venture pans out. Watch out, University of Phoenix!
I know, it’s a short order to fill. But now anyone can participate and get a taste of one of the Ivies in their own office, bedroom, kitchen, or … toilet even. I don’t care, and I don’t want to know. But if you have an Internet connection you can go to class. For free.
So Yale University is joining the online frenzy with the aid of a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Over an 18 month trial session, these partners will provide offerings from 8 core courses, completely free to the public. Poetry, philosophy, psychology, religion – the works.
While these courses won’t earn you any credits, it’s a relatively unprecedented move for such a prestigious school (or any school, for that matter) to provide audio, video, transcripts in multiple languages, syllabi, etc, to the world at large. I’d say this is a great step towards open education, whether it earns a spot on your CV or not.
You know who you are – the kid who sat in the back row and doodled endlessly because the drone of Ms. Frizzle’s history lesson promised nothing but boredom and maybe a few chuckles on the new ‘do. Reading lists or paragraphs didn’t quite cut it; listening to a lecture just went in one ear and out the other. But you always remembered when she brought in a political cartoon or she drew some kind of diagram on the blackboard.
Now, folks, we have Google in a whole new light – behold TouchGraph. I must admit that I was forced into using this application for class, but after fiddling with it for a few hours, it has grown on me considerably. There’s also a version for Amazon and Facebook (but the Facebook one doesn’t seem to be in any kind of working order). What I enjoy about this tool is the fact that I can start out a search with a broad keyword (“journals”) and narrow it down to a single page that speaks to exactly what’s on my mind (“open access scholarly e-journal directory, biology-related”). Basically what it does is bring up the first ten results as they would normally appear in Google, but encase each result with a colored bubble of its own color. Each of these ten would then be circled by the top ten results of its own search, also encased with the same colored bubble. In that way you end up with 100 pages on your first search, perhaps with 100 different outcomes that you’d never have expected to find with a single click of a button.
What I mean is that the search is more of a journey than a bored hack through barren text-laden wasteland. A happy, bubbly journey full of sweet surprises and treats for the inquisitive traveler. So go ahead, give it a try.
Check out this new e-book reader. It’s in beta, but you can sign up to try it out. Looks like it combines the social web with traditional e-reading at a level not yet seen. Basically, you can read a book while chatting with someone else who’s reading the same book at the same time. Or, you could leave comments and conduct an asynchronous conversation over a period of time. An interesting way to conduct a book club, possibly with friends across the country or the world.
Quite recently, some good people at Carnegie Mellon have come up with two amusing virtual arcade games. Okay, no harm there. But the kicker? They’re library games; one focused on shelving accuracy, and the other focused on helping patrons with reference questions. Nerdy? Yes. Helpful with training green students? Maybe. I’m thinking of trying this out on some guinea pigs this semester. We’ll see how challenging they find putting colored rectangles in LC order.
So what are you waiting for? Try out Within Range and I’ll Get It! today. It could be the start of a beautiful relationship.
Good news! You’ve got more options than just plain old Google. Here are some of the sites I’ve found amusing:
Wink.com – This site gleans information from MySpace accounts and general websites. Search by name, location or keyword.
Spock.com – This site also gets much of its information from MySpace accounts. It also lets you search by tags – say you tagged yourself as “single,” “libra,” “straight,” “college graduate,” and “unemployed.” You could find others with similar interests and traits with one click.
Pipl.com – Search by name or location and watch Pipl go! Contact information found is displayed across the top with webpage matches listed down the side. I didn’t find quite as much on this one, but found it unnerving that I could find just about any of my friends’ addresses by typing in first and last names (without city or state to help, even). Ancient ICQ profiles included, though.
yoName – A bit smaller than the other networks – this site searches only specific social networking sites that you specify. Good for digging up dirt from the distant past, though (remember Friendster? Or Xanga?). It also searches blogs.