Last week I saw a post on TechCrunch for Topify, a new app in private beta. I grabbed one of the beta invites and started using it. I'm hooked.

Topify makes Twitter user management better by doing all the things you wish Twitter did already.
When you log into Topify, you're given a special Topify email address. You'll pop that email address into your Twitter account. Now when someone follows you on Twitter, you get a detailed email. The follow notice has run through Topify, which is then emailing you all information you wished you had previously. That boring Twitter email (John is now following you on Twitter) has been vastly improved.

The Topify email gives you their avatar, number of followers/following, last tweet, bio, and when they last updated their Twitter account. You can decide, quickly, how to proceed. In some cases, you'll know instantly it's a spam twitter account and you can go out and block them.

But perhaps you want to follow them back. All you need to do is hit reply and send in your email program. That's it. Topify will take care of your follow-back.
Additionally, if you want to send a direct message to the person after you follow them, you can again hit reply. It's so simple, but very elegant.

The TechCrunch invites have all been taken, but you can still request a Topify beta invite.

Reposted from

 | Posted by | Categories: Twitter, Web 2.0 |

My personal blog pretty much lies dormant. With so many other blogs
to write for, I'm often at my wit's end. What on earth is left to write
about on this last little blog? Plinky has arrived to put an end to that.

Plinky is a microblogging service that intends to put an end to
blogger writer's block. Plinky offers a series of prompts – questions –
that you can answer. So far I've answered the equivalent of  "What was
your first job?" and "What do you wear when you get home from work?"

When you answer the question, you have the option to expand upon
your thoughts and even add an introduction. After you publish to
Plinky, you can still come back and edit your answer.

Like any good social network, you can follow others and people can
follow you. On Plinky, interacting with others is sort of like a
virtual brainstorming session, helping you to piggyback and learn from
the ideas of your friends.

When you've written your short Plink, you can publish it to Twitter, Facebook, or your blog.

Founder Jason Shellen told VentureBeat that he started Plinky to help fight blogger’s block. “After years of blogging, it turns out I’m that person.”

(re-posted from

 | Posted by | Categories: Web 2.0, Web/Tech, Weblogs |

When I teach my class on using Twitter in Business, I always spend a
fair amount of time on Twitter Search. After all, where else can you
watch comments on your brand in real time?

So I really like Twingly. Previously a blog search engine, they've expanded to microblogging.

Twingly searches Twitter, but it also searches other microblogging
sites, including Jaiku,, the Pownce archives, and
microblogging options I haven't even heard of.

I like being able to aggregate the information from all the sites.
However, my only complaint is that the results are not real-time
updates, as in It functions more like a Google for microblogging, but that's not always a bad thing.

(re-posted from

 | Posted by | Categories: Twitter, Web 2.0, Web/Tech |

Appy Holidays from Google

20 December 2008

Other than a bad pun, what is Google's Appy Holidays? Well, it's a surprisingly useful collection of their applications themed and ready for the holiday season.

Appy Holidays links you to Google Docs, which has templates for
things such as invitations, cards, holiday gift lifts, wish lists, gift
tags, address lists, and holiday letters. It also links to your Google
Calendar, with no holiday theme, but it does allow you to share
appointments for those cookie baking dates and holiday parties you're
attending. Appy Holidays links to Picasa to share and edit your holiday
images. Finally, it links to Google Chat's new video integration. Your
relatives aren't that far away after all.

I found the holiday templates in Google Docs incredibly useful. I've
been keeping a list of everyone we have to buy for in my head, so a
holiday spreadsheet I could easily share with my husband was the
perfect solution. Like me, you're probably familiar with the rest of
it, but I like the fact that Google has grouped it so easily in one
spot and tied it into the holidays.

(cross-posted from

 | Posted by | Categories: Web 2.0 |

No Kindles for Christmas

19 December 2008

So my number one "Want" on my Christmas List is a Kindle, but apparently Santa's elves and Amazon are not on the same page this year.

The over-priced eReader is SOLD OUT. Obviously someone is
getting a Kindle for Christmas. If you order one now, you'll be put on
a wait list. Estimated delivery is a whopping 11-13 weeks away.

According a TechCrunch article at the beginning of December, the Kindle 2.0 will be released in the early first quarter
of 2009 (would that be 11-13 weeks from now?). I have high hopes that
the price might drop a little. Heck, drop it to $299 and it makes a
psychological jump from almost $400 to less than $300.

Maybe the Valentine's Day fairy will bring me a Kindle.

(cross-posted from

 | Posted by | Categories: Web 2.0, Web/Tech |

cross-posted from

 I'm a social media consultant but really, in Cincinnati, that doesn't get me a lot of traction at the moment. So my bread and butter is instructional design and technical writing. It's not always the most exciting work, but it helps pay the bills. In the process of technical documentation, I may get two or three versions of the same document, edited by developers, SMEs, and overzealous copyeditors. I then have to incorporate all those changes into my master document. In the past, that's involved some hard copies, where I check things off as I integrate the changes.

It looks like that's all about to change. TextFlow by Nordic River made some news early last summer, but they've released their Adobe Air application in a new beta, and it looks pretty awesome. I haven't tried it out yet, but I'll be taking it for a test run in early January when I expect a documentation nightmare to appear on my desk.
TextFlow allows you to drag different versions of a document into their app. It will merge them, highlighting the differences, and allow you to show the changes, hide them, and integrate them. From the perspective of a technical writer, this is a real timesaver. They have a fantastic (but non embeddable) demo video on their site, but here's a great video from C|Net's Josh Lowensohn demonstrating the product.

 | Posted by | Categories: Technical Writing, Web 2.0, Web/Tech |

Mobile is our future

16 December 2008

I love those folks at the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
They release the coolest information. The newest report, The Future of
the Internet, includes some information on the mobile web. Take a hard
look at your cell phone right now. Think you'll be getting a Smart
Phone if you don't have one already? I suspect it will eventually be
the only option.

Now, you're fairly on top of things, so none of this will be a surprise to you. But isn't it nice to have your suspicions confirmed?

Some tidbits from the report:

  • The mobile device will be the primary connection tool to the internet for most people in the world in 2020.
  • The transparency of people and organizations will increase, but
    that will not necessarily yield more personal integrity, social
    tolerance, or forgiveness.
  • Voice recognition and touch user-interfaces with the internet will be more prevalent and accepted by 2020.
  • Those working to enforce intellectual property law and copyright
    protection will remain in a continuing arms race, with the crackers who
    will find ways to copy and share content without payment.
  • The divisions between personal time and work time and between
    physical and virtual reality will be further erased for everyone who is
    connected, and the results will be mixed in their impact on basic
    social relations.
  • Next-generation engineering of the network to improve the current
    internet architecture is more likely than an effort to rebuild the
    architecture from scratch.
  •  | Posted by | Categories: Web 2.0 |

    Suggestions for My Cloud?

    26 November 2008

    I need your suggestions.

    I keep a lot of my older data on two external drives: a Seagate 250
    GB hard drive holds all my photos from 2002 forward, music, video, and
    other personal files. A 1 TB Western Digital holds all my
    business-related items.

    Some of this stuff is scattered between my two laptops as well, but mostly not due to space considerations.

    This has always worked well for me – until yesterday.

    I plugged in my Seagate to grab my holiday playlists only to
    discover that there is no data on my Seagate. It’s telling me I need to
    reformat my drive – that it’s a blank disc. What? I’ve tried it on
    several different computers at this point, both PC and Mac. I’ve
    accepted that my data is somehow, magically gone.

    Now, my music is backed up on my iPod and my photos since 2005 are
    on Flickr. But everything else? Not so much. This has convinced me,
    more than anything else, the benefits of also having an off-site
    backup. You know, in the Cloud.

    I know there are a bunch of companies out there, such as I have around 200 GB of data, and that will only increase. What do you recommend for price, capacity, and ease of use?
    Leave your thoughts in the comments. I hope to have found something by
    next week, and believe me, I’ll take your suggestions to heart.

    Thanks, and happy Thanksgiving!

    Photo Credits:
    – Lost Data
    – King Cloud

     | Posted by | Categories: Web 2.0 |

    Questioning Conference Tools

    19 November 2008

    I moderated an unconference this year at the Wine Bloggers Conference.  I rapidly followed that up with speaking at DevLearn, so I couldn’t make it to Elliot Masie’s Learning 2008 for the first time since the event started. Truly, the Wine Bloggers Conference was probably more fun, as far as that goes, but I still missed a lot of things about the Masie event.

    I think I’ve compared and contrasted  these conferences before, but with a new ASTD technology for the upcoming TechKnowledge, I wanted to do it again.

    I enjoy ASTD TechKnowledge, and every year it gets just a tiny bit more technical, which makes me happy. In the past, there was no real way to communicate with the speakers, beyond recording their email address at a session. Well, ASTD has now implemented their Speaker Feedback System. You enter the speaker’s first name, last name, and session number. You can then fill out the form and it sends an email to the speaker.

    Now, more often than not, I’m a speaker at these events. I already have an inbox of 431 work related emails, not to mention my other email accounts. I am not overly thrilled that this is the tact that ASTD has taken. Sure, it opens up a dialogue with the speaker, which is more than we had before, but email does not open up that big of a dialogue. It’s one on one and does not include group discussion.

    This brings me to Masie’s conferences. For every conference, Masie offers a Wiki. Each session has a wiki page, complete with speaker bio and session information. You don’t need to have knowledge of the speaker’s name or session number. You can search on what you’re interested in.

    At Learning 2007, I spoke on Blogs. Had you searched the conference wiki for blogs, I would have popped up. It was topic-based search, which is amazingly useful. Not only that, but conversations about the topic could start on the wiki (anyone could participate) before the conference started and continue after the conference ended. As opposed to using handouts, I put all of my resources – most of which were hyperlinks – on the wiki. Folks thought this was brilliant. It’s so much easier to click than to type out a long, nonsensical hyperlink. And because it was a wiki, anyone and everyone could contribute to group discussion beforehand.

    Alternatively (and just as easily), ASTD could build a community group on Ning where each session has its own discussion group. Again, this site could be chock full of information and build itself on group input and collaboration. Not only would this help the speakers with their presentations and audience, it would help the attendees by generating useful discussion.

    ASTD already requires that speakers create tree-killing handouts that include job aids and workbooks. Now we’re getting direct email as well. Wouldn’t a wiki or discussion forum, where everyone could join into the conversation work better? ASTD also offers fantastic Learning Labs – basically unconferences – where people discuss what they’ve learned so far. These sessions have individual wikis. Imagine integrating these sessions into an overall wiki, where they were searchable and easy to find for everyone. 

    Again, I really enjoy the ASTD conferences, and I particularly enjoy the people I meet there. I appreciate the opportunity to speak at TechKnowledge. But I would love to somehow work with them to tweak their conference tools. I love that they’re trying to get attendees and speakers more connected, but I feel like they’re missing out on the opportunity for great discussion.

    UPDATE: Just heard from ASTD, and they don’t want a group discussion. This baffles me completely. Group learning, group discussion, INFORMAL LEARNING – that’s the future. Not email. They are also setting up a social network via LinkedIn, so I’m not sure how well that will work. My money is on the idea that they’ll use the built-in discussion group features in LinkedIn and call that ASTD Connect.

    Also, they hadn’t thought of a Twitter backchannel. Of course, the great thing about that is we can set it up ourselves if need be. I can’t even describe the amazing DevLearn Twitter backchannel and how much it brought to the conference for me.

    I appreciate the effort, but somehow feel like they are missing out on the important points. I often feel like ASTD, and I include my local chapter in this, facilitates Learning 1.0 and sort of looks at Learning 2.0 but shies away like a scared bunny.

    What do you think? As a speaker, would you rather have attendees email you or participate in a pre-session discussion? How about as an attendee? Would you rather send an email or participate in an informal, online discussion? I ask because I’m fully willing to admit that I’m wrong on this. Let me know.

    Disclaimer: This is my third year leading a session of some sort at TechKnowledge. I am the frustrated webmaster (and recently the VP of Technology) for our local chapter. I’ve tried repeatedly to get on the Planning Committee for TechKnowledge as well – apparently I don’t know the right people. I want to fix this – not complain about it on my blog – but they make it difficult.

    Crackling Logs and YouTube

    18 November 2008

    I have to say, I think this is a positively brilliant idea.

    Obama is going to record his Presidential "Fireside Chats", pioneered by FDR, and post them on YouTube. Ah, our first Web 2.0 president is continuing with his social media power. And I think it’s fantastic.

    Think about it – When FDR started those Fireside Chats over the radio, the radio was the global means of communication. People listened for entertainment and for news. It was the Internet of the 1930s.

    The Fireside Chats are still broadcast on the radio (did you know that?), although I couldn’t tell you where on the dial to find them. They’re usually only 4 minutes long, so posting to YouTube is perfect. I bet they get a lot more response than those radio addresses over the last 8 years. They don’t require any time from network TV and really, they can film this with a laptop and a flip video camera. It’s not a big-budget item, but it does get the message out.

    While we’re on the topic, have you seen It’s the transition web site, and it’s fantastic. It includes a blog with latest news, as well as short videos from key members of Obama’s transition team. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to work with Obama’s social media team. I have a definite knowledge of this stuff, but his team is the best in the business. It makes me wonder, in what ways will they use social media to broadcast the inauguration?

    Here’s the first Fireside Chat. Let’s call it pre-Presidential. What do
    you think of this idea? A better way to communicate with the masses?

     | Posted by | Categories: Current Affairs, Web 2.0 |