Category Archives: Web 2.0

Updated and new social media guides

The first of my updated guides and one new guide covering social media and collaborative tools are now up on I use these guides in some of my social media workshops and they are intended to help people get started with the various tools. You will notice that there are two Getting Started with Blogger guides: one for the old interface and one for the new. Don’t worry if you have not seen the new version of Blogger – Google is rolling this out gradually so it may be a while before the option appears on your screen.

The guides are Word documents so that you can edit them for use in your own organisation. I have given them a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License but if you are not sure whether your use of them will be covered by that license do get in touch with me.

So far the guides include:

Getting Started with Twitter
Introduction to Blogs
Getting Started with Blogger – Old Interface
Getting Started with Blogger – New Interface

Social media in health care libraries – wikis and Netvibes win

I recently ran a version of my social media workshop for a group of health care librarians and information professionals in Liverpool. The group were LIHNN (Library and Information Health Network North West) and HCLU (Health Care Libraries Unit). (For further information about them see their web site at I was forewarned that many of them have limited access to social media. Several confirmed that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs were all blocked in their workplace, yet most of them came from organisations who had set up YouTube channels, Twitter streams and Facebook pages! This raises an interesting question: if they receive a query about, for example, an event listed on their Facebook page or the content of a video on YouTube how are they supposed to respond if they are not able to check the content at the time of the enquiry? I find this mass blocking of social media web sites by organisations totally bizarre and ludicrous. The blocking is not even consistent. Slideshare may be blocked but other presentation sharing sites are often accessible. Add to this the antediluvian technology most of them are forced to use – in particular IE6 – and we end up with organisations that are out of touch with their users and communities, and have no idea what is being discussed or said about them.

But health care librarians and information professionals, and  health care practitioners are an inventive lot. There is plenty of evidence of them having circumvented the barriers put in their way. The excellent Liz Azyan published a series of blog postings on social media and health care just before the workshop took place and they provide plenty of examples and support for those putting together a case for access to social media.

The postings are:

The Liverpool workshop participants were equally innovative. During the practical sessions they were able to test out social media for providing up to date information on their services and current awareness to their users. The winners were wikis for creating mini-websites and Netvibes for presenting RSS feeds and current awareness. The NHS Bolton Library wiki at and Shrewsbury and Telford Health Libraries Netvibes Team Knowledge Update at are just two examples. There was also a great deal of interest in Twitter and blogs for at least monitoring “conversations” on health related topics and their own organisations, and word clouds for analysing the content of documents.

Facebook did not win any converts, nor did Second Life.

My PowerPoint presentation for the day is available in several places, and you should be able to view or download it from at least one of them:

Presentation: A day in the life of…

Phil Bradley and I are doing a double act on social networking tools tomorrow (May 10th, 2010) at the Dental Librarians Group Annual Meting 2010. My presentation is a run through the tools that I regularly use in my personal and working life. I’ve called it “A day in the life of…” but is really “2-3 days in the life of….”!  Some I do use on a daily basis but I may access others every other day or just once a week, so I suppose it could be one day if I picked the right one.

The presentation can be found on the following presentation sharing sites:


You can also download it from the RBA web site at

Twitter search in Bing and Google

Bing and Google have both announced that they have done a deal with Twitter that enables them to offer ‘real time’ Twitter searches. The Bing service is live now at SearchEngineWatch has an overview of the service at A Visual Tour. It looks impressive but as is so often the case with Bing the reality does not live up to expectations.

I have just returned from a conference on chemical information held in Sitges – hashtag #icic09. This should be an easy one for Bing Twitter to handle I thought. Silly me. Up came “We did not find any Twitter results or links for icic09″. I tried it with and without the hashtag – still nothing.  And yet both and had no problem finding tweets from the conference.

Bing Twitter results on #icic09

Twazzup results on #icic09

It also appears that you cannot search on a username. I then compared the results of searches on keywords and names that I knew had been tweeted at the conference: chemspider, chemspiderman, David Walsh, semantic mediawiki, markush. Nothing! It seems that the whole conference has been boycotted by Bing Twitter. I did begin to suspect that the service is not really up and running but searching on Nick Griffin came up with plenty of results and it found a tweet from one of my Twitter network about chickpea curry that had been posted a few minutes before.

There is something seriously wrong with Bing Twitter. Until they fix it and can present credible results I recommend that you give it a miss.

So what of Google’s offering? It isn’t live yet but there is useful discussion and comments on Google Social Search Is Coming & More On Google-Twitter. The main question for us as searchers is whether or not the Twitter search will be integrated into the standard web search or made available as a separate option. Tweets are already included in the web search as I discovered when I did a search on icic09 but they are spread out amongst the results. It would make sense to have a separate search tool such as Google’s Blogsearch. Another option would be to incorporate it into the side bar under “Show options” (See Google new search and display options).

Bing have yet again snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. As for Google Twitter, we shall just have to wait and see.

Mashups – a free evening seminar from CILIP BBOD

I am giving a presentation on mashups at next Tuesday’s CILIP BBOD evening meeting.

Date: Tuesday 5th May 18.00 for 18.30 (postponed from February)

Presenter: Karen Blakeman

Venue: Great Expectations, 33 London Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 4PS

Please advise Norman Briggs, BBOD Events Co-Ordinator Tel: 0118 987 1115 or
or Chrissy Allott, BBOD Chair if you plan to attend

Seminar details

Mashups – tasty recipes for 2009

Mashups are not just for the remnants of your Christmas or Sunday dinner! A mashup is also a web application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool, and you may be surprised at how commonplace they have become. Blogs, Yahoo Finance, Facebook, Geograph, and the latest UK police forces’ crime statistics all use mashups.

Karen Blakeman will look at examples from a variety of sectors and subject areas and show how easy it is to create your own. The issues of quality and ownership of data will also be addressed.

BBOD meetings are free and open to all with a professional interest in the topic.

Refreshments provided afterwards.

Furl “absorbed by Diigo”

News broke this morning that Furl, the online bookmarking service, has been “absorbed” by Diigo and is to be phased out. The Furl web site says:

“We worked hard to find Furl a home where loyal users like you could continue to benefit from best-of-breed social bookmarking and annotation tools. Hands down, was the winner due to its innovative approach to online research tools and knowledge sharing.

The Diigo team is dedicated to making sure you continue to get top notch features and service. They’ve got a crack team of technologists who love making research and knowledge sharing as easy and efficient as possible.”

Frankly, I’m not surprised. Despite having a vastly superior range of features to it has never managed to match the latter’s publicity. It has always remained in the backwaters of social boomarking, being used mostly by researchers who need to annotate their bookmarks, download or back up files, or archive copies of pages they have referred to in reports. The last is what had appealed to many of my clients. One of the problems with using information from free web pages – even on government sites – is that the content can change within minutes of you having completed your analysis and report. The client may then come back and point out the the cited page does not have the data you claim, or even worse, has disappeared. Furl allowed you to archive a copy of the page as it was when you visited it.  I must confess that I was always uneasy about this part of the service as I suspected that in some cases it would be a breach of copyright, but the alternative is to either use the Wayback Machine (not reliable) or keep a local copy with something like Scrapbook for Firefox.

I don’t use online bookmarking services. I travel extensively and am often in situations where the wi-fi is unreliable or non-existent, so I prefer to have as much of my reference material available offline as is possible. Many of my clients do make extensive use of  them, though,  so I have tested several over the past couple of years –, Furl, Connotea, 2Collab. Of them all I found Furl to be the most useful for what I call  “serious” business resource management.

On Furl this morning there are options to transfer to Diigo. I decided to test it out and went for the the new user option but was told that my email address for the login had “already been taken”. The fact that I had forgotten trying Diigo is worrying; I was obviously so unimpressed the first time around that I did not record the details. I assumed that I had used my default password for testing new services and it worked. Diigo is now busy importing  my Furl files.

I only hope that Diigo has improved since my last unmemorable visit and that it will combine the best of both services to provide an even better one. But, as we all know, online life’s not like that.

Hants & Isle of Wight Web 2.0 Session

A reminder to all of you who attended the CILIP Hampshire & Isle of Wight evening meeting on Web 2.0 and social networking that the PowerPoint can be downloaded from . Anyone is free to download it if they wish but it probably won’t make much sense unless you were there and heard my commentary! It is also available on SlideShare at

You might also like to view the twitterstream that evolved over the evening by going to and searching on the hashtag #hiow . You will note the participants had their  priorities right by tweeting on the quality of the biscuits and tea/coffee 🙂

A big thank you to all of you around the world who tweeted to us at the seminar about where you were, what you were doing and how you use Twitter. It really showed how great Twitter can be.

Pageflakes introduces obtrusive and inappropriate adverts

Today and without advance warning Pageflakes installed advertisements on all of its members’ pages. There had been reports of ads appearing on new users’ pages but it was not until today that they were imposed on all existing users.

The ads are garish, often irrelevant to the content of the page, sometimes ‘inappropriate’ and always fixed. They appear in the top right hand corner of the page. As Phil Bradley has pointed out in the Pageflakes Forum, the positioning of the advert is excellent from their point of view but a disaster from ours. If it is an image it completely dominates the content.  Until I had removed most of my content I saw bright orange,  red and yellow ads being served up on my page.

I am sure that most of Pageflakes’ users appreciate that the company has to generate revenue but Pageflakes has not offered any alternative subscription options for those of us who are willing to pay for an ad free environment.

So what are the alternatives? I do not use Pageflakes other than to demonstrate it in workshops but I do maintain pages for other organisations. I have moved them all to Netvibes, which I recommend you investigate as an alternative. (For a very ordinary and straightforward example see the UKeiG  Netvibes page)

LARIA/ALGIS Presentation: Web 2.0 in the Public Sector

The presentation I gave at ‘Managing Information in the Public Sector – The Future – Relaunching ALGIS’ is now available on Slideshare at and on Authorstream at .

The slides are based on earlier Web 2.0 presentations but I have included examples from local government authorities and public libraries. Apologies to those of you I have used as examples: you may be deluged with enquiries from the seminar participants! There was a lot of interest in what is being done especially by local authorities.

The event was a joint LARIA/ALGIS seminar and held in London at Baden Powell House, London, Tuesday 18th November 2008. All the presentations will be available on the LARIA web site.