Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Other Google notes...

So Steve's email sent me back to Google Labs. I downloaded and began testing "Google Notebook" (currently the 3rd one down on the left-hand side of the G Labs page), which is explained as follows: "Clip and collect information as you browse the web." Hmmm.... how's this different than Furl or No tags/folksonomies - no collaborative building? More text-oriented - little notes to yourself? So I'm not impressed yet. It's a very basic tool at this point - little more than an online personal Notepad with hyperlink support. [To be fair, that may be all the Google folks are seeking - keep it simple, eh?]

I should also mention that I've played with Google Reader (Google's fairly recent RSS feed aggregator - to keep up with your favorite blogs, wikis and/or straight RSS feeds - at I'm not in love with it - I find the interface a little frustrating - too few options of how to present and organize my feeds - but I'm sure it will improve with time. And I'm not in love with Bloglines' interface, either, so I think that Google Reader might have a role for some librarians...

And yes, you'll need a gmail account to use this or just about any other Google tool. It's quick, easy, and free - get more info about the service (don't forget, for fierce privacy advocates, there are issues related to automated bots searching your emails to present the appropriate Google "AdWords" - their revenue-generating feature that appears - fairly unobtrusively, I think - on the right-hand side of the screen) I can heartily recommend Gmail, which offers great functionality these days (yes, you can even back up your gmail, if you're concerned about Google going belly up or starting to charge for its services - by interfacing with its POP/SMTP support - e.g., using an Outlook-type email client... ) Also, I love the Google personalized homepage as a place to view the feeds of the blogs I'm monitoring, along with my Gmail and my Google Reader (RSS feed aggregator).

So what's up with all of these new Google tools? What do they all add up to? Is it just a mish-mosh... well, close... they're modular web applications, like widgets, that - in theory - in the best case Web2.0 scenario - would allow web users to fit together any way they'd like - to "mashup" the code and integrate these app's with other things of interest to them that are not necessarily Google-based, for example. That's the concept, anyway. Technically speaking, I'm probably using imprecise terminology, but you get the concept. Think building blocks - think of being a "child" on the web, playing with those blocks and making something that is uniquely your own, something that will serve you best (rather than letting a bunch of technogeeks out there decide which will be the features that you're interested in having and allowing them to put them together in a single, monstrously-proportioned, proprietary piece of software that costs you a bundle... not that I'm referring to a specific vendor here, really!).

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