Best Google Earth Interface Videos

The Google Earth Blog posted yesterday a bunch of video clips of different ways to interface with Google Earth. Thought this was just too interesting for just a twitter/jaiku post. Enjoy!

Best Google Earth Interface Videos

Organizing it all – Socialthing & FriendFeed

So we now all now belong to all these social networks – facebook, myspace, youtube, twitter, jaiku, etc. How in the world are we now going to keep up with all of them? Do you have one instance of Firefox (or Flock — either one is cool enough for an EduGeek) with all tabs devoted to your social sites?

Or, have you stumbled across a social aggregator that can combine all of your social feeds into one friendly feed? So far, I’ve checked out two:

  • FriendFeed
    • Nice.
    • Easy to add services.
    • Seems to be a little slow in updating this morning.
    • Had a little difficulty adding my Jaiku feed, but working now.
    • Has 41 services you can import.
  • SocialThing!
    • Very nice!
    • Currently invite-only and still in beta.
    • Very nice interface and very easy to add service.
    • Currently only imports digg, facebook, flickr,, twitter, youtube,, pownce, and vimeo
    • They’re currently working on adding myspace, livejournal, and rss feeds, and you can vote to add services (jaiku currently has 522 votes).
    • Kind of shows threaded twitter discussions, which is nice.
    • Can easily reply to twitter and facebook posts through ST!
    • Shows that I have updates on my Firefox tab (my tab is now named ‘(2) Socialthing!’, telling me I have two updates)

So, right now, I’m going with ST! It’s the Jaiku to my Twitter. Cleaner. More user-friendly. Very promising. It doesn’t yet have all the services that FriendFeed has, but they’re working on it.

My questions for you: Have you used either or both? What do you think? Which do you prefer? Is there another social aggregator that is totally awesome that you can’t believe I haven’t mentioned?

Oh, and would you like an invite to Socialthing? I have one to spare. If so, post your email address in the comments, and I’ll send my one last invite your way!

Related Story:
2008 Killer Apps – Tools for Managing Multiple Social Networks

Cracking down on Textbook Torrents

Ars Technica and The Chronicle of Higher Education reported today about the torrent site Textbook Torrents‘ removal of several files after receiving a request from academic publisher Pearson Education.

“On Friday, we received a request from Pearson Education, one of the bigger textbook publishers, listing 78 torrents that they wanted disabled. While they are acting on extremely shaky legal ground, we are not in a position to fight a legal battle with the organization. As a result, in the interest of allowing the continued existence of this place, I have acceded to their request and disabled access to the listed torrents.”

It’s been a while since I’ve had to purchase textbooks, so I was initially surprised to hear that there were torrents of scanned textbook files; however, (and I am in no way justifying the practice) it makes complete sense. Textbooks are *incredibly* expensive. Selling back your used books is infuriatingly unprofitable. Scanners are cheap. And students are angry.

While sharing textbooks is more time-intensive than sharing media files, site owners are promoting this as a service to students, and encourage them to “give back”. Taken from Textbook Torrents’ rules page:

  • If you have saved enough money by using this site (say, $200 worth of textbooks), please go out and buy a scanner. Scan as many of your other textbooks as you can, and put them up here for others to benefit from. There aren’t very many scanned texts out there, so let’s change that.
  • If you have found all your texts on the tracker (lucky dog), you can afford to buy a text that you don’t need specifically for the purpose of sharing, or borrow one from a friend. Think about how much money you would have been wasting if it hadn’t been for your fellow members.
  • If you have not found anything of use here and have to buy all your books, please think of your fellow students. Devote an evening or two to scanning some of the texts you have on hand to ensure that future students will not be in the same position as you were. Karma will pay you back, sooner or later.

This looks to be an issue we’re going to hear more about. While Textbook Torrent seems to be the major go-to resource for free textbooks, it is by far not the only place. Go to any torrent site and search for “textbook”, and hundreds of files come up. Just since the story about Textbook Torrents came out, other torrent sites are taking notice.

How is this going to change textbooks? Will we soon be able to go to and buy individual chapters (DRM-protected, of course) to download? Just have to wait and see.

Presidential Twitter Debate

Very interesting story on NPR about the current presidential twitter debate going on between the Obama and McCain camps. Listen to the store here.

Weekend Edition Sunday, June 22, 2008 – Andrew Rasiej, founder of the Personal Democracy Forum, a Web site that focuses on the intersection of politics and technology, talks about the Twitter debate between presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama. He also discusses the forum’s upcoming conference.

The story also discusses how Web 2.0 and the internet has and will change democracy, and it even ponders how our country would be different had our founding fathers had access to the internet.

(You can listen in on the twitter debate here or here.)


I had to do a quick post on this b/c it’s just too cool to only post in Jaiku about. Wordle takes text and creates a word cloud out of it.

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery to share with your friends.

So, I took my resume, copy/pasted the content into Wordle, and out popped my Wordle resume…


So basically, you can take a document and quickly see what concepts you focus on. Definitely interesting. (Thanks Jeremy!)

Instapreneurs in Education

Greetings guys and gals! Great to be back … kind of. I do miss my little gal. Janelle is doing *great*, by the way. :)

I read an article recently in Wired called Rise of the Instapreneur. The article discusses sites that allows anyone to upload designs/blueprints for furniture, houses, clothing, etc., and a user/shopper can browse through these user-generated ideas and actually purchase the final product. It gives the example of a man who designed a piece of furniture, uploaded the design document to a site, made it available to shoppers, and so far two of his pieces have been sold.

So I began to think about how this could affect education, and I began to realize how learners increasingly have the opportunity to get a type of on-the-job training. It’s easy to see how Web 2.0 has affected the areas such as journalism and creative writing with the inception of blogs, podcasts, vodcasts, etc. Students’ work can immediately be published for the world to access, critique, and potentially collaborate with. Now people can publish their ideas and potentially make a profit. What started with sites like Cafe Press that provide the ability to upload homemade graphics and instantly get them printed on t-shirts, ballcaps, etc. is evolving into sites that will allow learners to publish their ideas/projects for the world to peruse and potentially purchase. As a learner, teacher, consumer, and potential designer, I’m intrigued.

Wii + Microsoft Surface = Minority Report HCI?

Happy New Years folks!! Since Matt has us thinking about the future, I figured I’d post this video I just found. (I love getting glimpses of what might become the future of human computer interface!) This brief video clip demos new technology that combines the Wii with Microsoft’s Surface technology to become very similar to what we saw in Minority Report.

Yahoo! Teachers

Yahoo! Teachers, currently in beta, is a collaborative tool enabling teachers to easily collect, create, and share teaching materials with others. Yahoo recently opened up the site to beta users for educators wanting an early look at the new tool. Most of the information on the Yahoo! Teachers site and in recent news articles describes the Gobbler. This browser add-on allows educators to quickly grab content, media, and and even entire sites; organize that material easily into projects; create handouts and other teaching content from the gathered material; tag this content; and share it with the rest of the world. (View video demo of the Gobbler here.) Yahoo! Teacher looks promising as a fledgling social networking site for educators.

True Knowledge’s Natural Language Search Engine

TechCrunch posted yesterday about the new natural language search engine by True Knowledge. While traditional search engines direct the user to a list of websites based on statistical analysis of key terms in the word or phrase being searched for, this natural language search engine actually translates the question (or phrase) into a query that returns real answers.

The video demoing the site and explaining the technology behind this powerful form of searching is very intriguing. You can see exactly how this type of site differs greatly and can be much more useful than your standard Google search engine.

(Follow-up) Google Investing in Facebook?

(As my Dad would say…) I’m not one to say I told you so, but…

The tech and investment worlds are abuzz as Google and Microsoft battle it out to see who will get to invest a significant chunk of change in Facebook. (Read more here.) We should find out in the next day, but according to the article, all indications point to Google moving in on this extremely popular social networking site.