Del.ic.io.us to Suffer the Fate of Bloglines?

There have been rumors running around for the past few days about Yahoo shutting Delicious down.  According the TechCrunch post, the rumors started with layoffs at Yahoo and a leaked internal slide showing Delicious (along with MyBlogLog, Yahoo Picks, Alta Vista, Yahoo Bookmarks, Yahoo Buzz) planned to go into the “sunset.”

The same TechCrunch post has been recently updated with information from the Delicious blog stating that Delicious will not be shut down but will be available to other companies. 

 “No, we are not shutting down Delicious. While we have determined that there is not a strategic fit at Yahoo!, we believe there is a ideal home for Delicious outside of the company where it can be resourced to the level where it can be competitive.”

So it looks like the demise of Delicious is similar to Bloglines.  Now Bloglines has been picked up by Merchant Circle, but the relaunch of that platform seems to have some problems as one librarian noted.  We will have to see how Delicious fares.  It is interesting to see how social networking has evolved and changed and some of the beginning social systems like Bloglines and Delicious are no longer as relevant as they once were, Twitter and Facebook now rule the roost.  It may sound odd but it reminds me a bit of the gas guzzling SUV days smacking head on to high gas prices.  In 1992 the Hummer was hot, before he was the Governator, Arnold drove one around in the stop and go traffic of California.  About 15 years later the once popular car line couldn’t even be sold to a Chinese automaker.

Let’s hope Delicious and Bloglines do not go the way of the Hummer, however it doesn’t look good for either product.  My guess is that they will eventually die or somebody will pick them up and figure out how to morph them into some new social product that we all have to use.  Don’t be shocked if someday 10-15 years from now even Twitter and Facebook face the same fate as Delicious and Bloglines. 

I was an avid Bloglines user, but now days I am Netvibes person who happens to rely more on Twitter for information gathering and Facebook for inforamtion distribution.  I admit I never quite got the hang of Delicious.  I am not sure why, organizing my online life would seem to fall right in line with my librarian state of mind.

For those of you who are huge Delicious people who are taking this news hard or are freaking out over all of your tags, never fear the tech people online are already listing the “best” Delicious alternatives.

Here are links to some:

Using Facebook for Professional Reasons

Facebook can be a useful tool or a fun way to waste some time.  Really the same can be said about a lot of tools we use in the work place.  Email, we can’t live without it now (ok I can’t live without it, I don’t know about the rest of you all) but how many of us use our work email to email friends and family?  The same can be said about the phone too, although I have to say I use the phone less than I use email.  So it isn’t surprising that Facebook can serve two purposes for some people.

I have two Facebook accounts.  A public one, The Krafty Librarian, and a personal one. I use the public one specifically to speak about library issues and things of interest to medical librarians, basically it is an extension of my blog.  My personal Facebook site is set up really to just chat with friends and family and do typical Facebook-ish type things like post family pictures and talk about personal things like painting my house.

Most people don’t want or need a public Facebook page, and for those that don’t have one it is important to look at the Facebook settings for a personal account and think about whether putting “friends” in categories.  I have three main friend categories on my personal Facebook page, family, friends, and librarians.  There is some cross over, for example I have some good friends who are librarians so those people are in both lists.  Not only does this allow me to restrict access to certain things like family photos to certain groups of people but equally important it allows me to selectively post things to my wall.  I can post an library related article and have it only be visible to librarians.  Like wise I can post an link to my new favorite TV series The Walking Dead that is only visible to my friends.  That way my friends aren’t inundated with library stuff and librarians aren’t inundated with zombie stories. 

Having a public site and having my personal site’s friend list subdivided has been very helpful for communicating news, stories, and chatting.  But what has been the most helpful is using Facebook’s messaging feature.  When I am out of the office on work trips the best way to stay connected to work email is using my laptop.  That can get quickly tiresome.  So if possible I try and leave my laptop at home for smaller trips.  That means my iPhone is the only way I can get email.  Since I work in a hospital, I cannot sync my iPhone with my work email.  However I can access work’s web mail through it.  This is not the most ideal method for viewing and responding to email.  Most of the time I use it just to respond to time sensitive emails.  Unless I know a person’s email address by heart it is difficult to access my work email’s address book to compose anything. 

Monday night I was in Seattle for a site visit for the 2012 annual meeting.  Since I live on East coat time and I was visiting West coast time, I was up bright and early at 4:00am with thoughts about speakers and other questions.  Despite my best efforts my brain would not turn off and let me go to sleep, it thought it was 7:00am and it wanted me to do something about what was bouncing around in my brain.  I decided I would email various people to try and get some answers and ideas to things dancing in my head.  I realized most of the librarians I needed to email were already friends on my Facebook account.  So instead of logging onto web mail, I launched the Facebook app and messaged the librarians.

Not only can Facebook be a good way to share news and information through a Wall post, but it can also provide an alternative method of personal communication when you can’t access your traditional email system.

Bloglines Saved from the Chopping Blog

After to coming to terms with the need to move my monster list of feeds from Bloglines, evaluating Google Reader, NetVibes and various other feed readers, weeding dead or no longer relevant feeds (really needed to be done even if I didn’t move feed readers), and finally getting used and somewhat enjoying NetVibes, I got an email from MerchantCircle informing me that Bloglines will not die. 

The email came November 30th but MerchantCircle’s press release is dated November 4th.  According to the press release MerchantCircle will assume management of Bloglines and beginning December 1st (today) will offer “richer, more local Bloglines experience for existing and future users.”  Of course it also says on December 1st go to www.bloglines.com for more information.   However, people who do that are just redirected to MerchantCircle which repeats a lot of the same information and links to the MerchantCircle blog post telling people that “beginning around December 1st, when you log in to your Bloglines account (using your same id and password), you’ll be transitioned to the NEW Bloglines experience.”

I logged in and I guess they will be going with the “around” December 1st date because to me it looks like the same old Bloglines. 

By now I am guessing many avid Bloglines users have already moved their feeds to another reader.  I am interested to see what the new Bloglines will be and what enhancements will be made, however I have to say that I really like NetVibes social monitoring interactive features that Bloglines just didn’t have.  I am also a little concerned about the lack of coordination with the press releases, email notice, the jumping from site to site to read “more” about it, and the nebulous launch date of the new version. MerchantCircle hasn’t  mentioned any specific feature updates, so it will be interesting if their new version will be able to woo many departed users who found replacement readers back to the Bloglines product.

AMA Released Guidelines for Physicians and Social Media

Recently the American Medical Association just released a new guidelines for physicians using social media.  The policy “aims at helping physicians to maintain a positive online presence and preserve the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.”

I am glad the AMA is adressing social media among physicians, but looking at the new policy they seem very common sense.  Besides the need to maintain appropriate patient-physican boundaries and confidentiality, most of this stuff applies to everyone on social media sites.

According to the AMA’s site

The new policy encourages physicians to:

  • Use privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the fullest extent possible on social networking sites.
  • Routinely monitor their own Internet presence to ensure that the personal and professional information on their own sites and content posted about them by others, is accurate and appropriate.
  • Maintain appropriate boundaries of the patient-physician relationship when interacting with patients online and ensure patient privacy and confidentiality is maintained.
  • Consider separating personal and professional content online.
  • Recognize that actions online and content posted can negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, and may even have consequences for their medical careers.

Changes for the 2011 Annual Meeting Blog

The theme for the 2011 Annual Meeting is Rethink and Molly Knapp, 2010 Annual Meeting blog administrator and 2011 member of the National Program Committee, writes in the MLA News about rethinking the Annual Meeting Blog (full text available to MLA members). 

The Annual Meeting blog has evolved significantly over the years.  In the beginning it was just a few people who submitted some posts that were aggregated on the blog site.  Now people apply to be bloggers and write on various aspects of the meeting, those who are accepted get AHIP points and possibly free wifi courtesy of MLA.  I managed the 2009 Annual Meeting Blog and I told Molly when she was handed the reigns to the 2010 blog, that we might be growing a little big to be randomly writing on topics and that we may need to think about how we organize things.

Well, based off of the 2009 Annual Meeting blog and 2010 Annual Meeting blog, Molly decided to rethink the way the 2011 meeting blog will be handled.  During the last two annual meetings we sometimes had multiple people blog about the same thing, and while it was nice to get two different perspectives on an event, we really didn’t need four posts summarizing the Presidential Address.  I wasn’t just the only one who felt this way, based on the 2009 Annual Meeting blog survey I conducted, members wanted more variety and coverage of different events.  In years past when there was only 4-5 bloggers it was difficult/impossible to cover that much stuff.  But in 2009 we had approximately 20 bloggers and in 2010 there were 17 bloggers. 

With that many bloggers, there are certainly opportunity to change things so that the blog can be more relevant to members.  One of the ways is to have a little more structure as to who will be blogging and what they will be blogging about. 

In the MLA News, Molly writes there will be section and special interest group (SIG) themed bloggers who will cover sponsored programs, interesting papers, highlights of section business meetings, and other section/SIG related programming.  There will be perspectives bloggers, people who write about the meeting from their professional perspective whether as a new MLA member (0-5 yrs membership) or distinguished MLA member (10+ yrs membership). 

Other types of bloggers will include:

  • Plenary session blogger (post about the plenary sessions)
  • Poster/Rethink blogger (post items of interest within the poster sessions)
  • Exhibits blogger (items of interest from exhibitors and the exhibit hall)
  • Early Riser blogger (events like the Sunrise Seminar and Major’s Walk)
  • Social Butterfly blogger (parties, Bearded Pigs, receptions)
  • Dedicated Student blogger (post on continuing education courses taken at meeting)
  • NLM blogger (NLM update, Friends of NLM reception and other NLM news)

MLA will continue to sponsor some of the blogger’s wifi access by issuing wifi cards but those who don’t have a wifi card don’t have to worry.  This year the Hilton Minneapolis will provide complimentary guestroom Internet access for MLA ’11.  (Yippeeeee!)

Look for the official call for bloggers in February 2011, but if you have any questions about the 2011 blog or blogging the meeting contact Molly at mknapp(atsign)lsuhsc(dot)edu.

Life After Bloglines, Is NetVibes the Answer?

Bloglines will be gone soon and I have used these last few weeks to try and find an adequate replacement.  In the back of mind I knew I could always use Google Reader in a pinch but for some reason I haven’t been a fan of Google Reader (that is why I always stuck with Bloglines) so I wanted to see if there was something that seemed to work better for me. 

First off the reader had to be web based.  I jump on too many computers through out my life to be tied to any installed software or to rely on IE’s feed reader.  I also wanted something that could search for keywords, save that search and automatically update me on any new blog posts, news stories, press releases, etc. that mentioned those keywords.  Not all feed readers do this (Bloglines did) and I found this feature to be crucial in keeping up to date for my blog, librarianship, and my day to day job. In a pinch I could always find specific search engines and create a search and save it as an RSS feed (similar to what people can do in PubMed), but I do like having an integrated search box in my feed reader to actively search things out there not just within my subscribed feeds.  I was also interested in seeing how some feed readers are handling Facebook and Twitter.  As the pundits at TechCrunch stated that those two products seem to have changed the face and flow of information. 

After looking at several products (and already saving my Bloglines feeds in Google Reader just in case I didn’t find anything before they pulled the plug) I found NetVibes.  Registration was a little clunky for me.  I first tried registering using my usual webmail address and for some reason I never got the authentication email from NetVibes.  It wasn’t in my inbox and it wasn’t in my bulk.  NetVibes does allow you to resend the email or change the address (in case you mistyped it).  I checked the email and it was correct but I still never received it, so I tried changing the email to a different one but that didn’t work.  So I ended up completely re-registering using a different login name and email address.  With that change I was able to get the authentication email. 

Netvibes has two frontpage looks to it, the “widgets view’ and the “reader view.”  The widget view is similar to iGoogle.  I am not a big fan of iGoogle nor the widget view, it is too distracting to me.  I like the reader view the best.  Of course this is totally a personal taste issue, so if you like the iGoogle style, you will probably like the widget view.  However for this post, everything I refer to will be as I see things in the reader view. 

Uploading your feeds from Bloglines is very easy.  However be forewarned that when you first upload them, it will treat everything as new feeds.  This means you will have lots of unread items going back to the dawn of time.  I had some crazy number in the thousands of unread items.  So you are going to have to have mark a lot things as read and make sure you click the tab “Show only unread items” or you are going to be met with a lot to sift through.

Unlike Bloglines, Netvibes lets you keep things once you have read them. Google Reader, as well as a lot of feed readers, allow you to keep already read items, but it is worth mentioning because if you are a heavy Bloglines user you are used to things disappearing after you click on them.   I like this save feature but it is going to take some to get used to for me.

Netvibes feed reading is good and while I haven’t explored every nook and cranny of this area, it appears to do what many other feed readers normally do.  What sets NetVibes apart from many feed readers including Google is how it treats sharing feeds via social media.  You can email a feed to somebody (Google allows emailing feeds) and you can click on a feed and share it to your Facebook page, Twitter Account and several other social media platforms liked LinkedIn.   I had problems the first day emailing feeds to people, but I think that is because that was the same day I activated my account.  I have had no problems emailing feeds since.  I had no problems posting feeds on my Facebook personal page.  However I have two pages, my personal page and my fan page.  I haven’t been able to figure out how to get NetVibes to post to my fan page not my personal page.  This is a problem with the Facebook “like” button and Facebook icon on other regular web pages so it doesn’t surprise me that NetVibes has problems knowing that I have two pages.  Most people only have one Facebook page so they wouldn’t have this similar problem.  If you have a library Facebook page, you might want to consider two NetVibes accounts (one with the library information) for easy posting of feeds from the library.  I am still having difficulties sharing feeds via Twitter.  My Twitter account is open, anybody can subscribe to the feed, so it should be able to work.  I can tweet within NetVibes, just not share a feed on Twitter via NetVibes.  This was a feature I was most excited about too. (*see note at bottom, the Twitter share feature is now working.)

So how does it do with the keyword searching?  Pretty good.  Of course nothing is as sophisticated as Medline and you can do some pretty intricate web search strategies within Google Advanced Search.  But all in all it handles basic keyword searches pretty well.  You can also create a keyword search in another program (PubMed, Twitter, MedWorm, etc.) and save it as an RSS feed and upload that feed into NetVibes. 

NetVibes widgets allows you to try and get creative with search feeds.  You can use certain widgets to create your own keyword search.  The widgets I looked at specifically were the blog search widget and the Twitter search widget.  These widgets are supposed to search for information within certain platforms or social media (podcasts, blogs, Twitter, Flickr, etc.).  I don’t like the blog search widget, the search engines they use are too generic for my tastes so I will stick with using things like MedWorm and other blog search engines and saving them as an RSS feed to import into NetVibes.  The Twitter search widget is fairly good, I am comparing it to my TweetDeck searches and it appears that it retrieves the same results in a timely manner. 

Theoretically you can use the widgets to search for Podcasts as well but when I started the process of adding the widget and adding my search terms I noticed that all of the podcast search engines it profiled were no longer available.  So if you like to keep up to date on the latest podcasts, I recommend going to your favorite podcast search engine and grabbing the search and importing it as RSS feed into NetVibes.

While it appears that the widgets in NetVibes have the potential to be a fairly strong components to their service, they are also problematic because there seems to be no authority control like removing of old non-functioning widgets or editing widgets with non-functioning components. 

NetVibes is quirky and I think I like it for now.  It is definitely more beefed up than Bloglines or Google Reader, I like the potential it has for sharing feeds and news items using email and the social network, this is a huge feature for me (if I can ever get the stupid Twitter share thing to work). But if you are looking for a straight feed reader then NetVibes’ bells and whistles, along with a lot of their broken or clunky bells and whistles can be a bit of a pain and it is best to probably stick with Google Reader.  Google Reader already has the email feeds feature, and if it comes out with social sharing then it will hands down my feed reader of choice.  While I don’t like Google Reader’s searching features (for searching for posts, tweets, podcasts, etc.) using keywords, NetVibes inconsistantly faulty widgets is worse. I am going to stick with doing a searches via my specific search engines (Twitter, blog, podcast, etc.) and save the strategies as an RSS feed.  Time consuming to set up but once it is set, I don’t have to touch it that often. 

The social sharing stuff has me liking NetVibes just a little bit more than Google Reader and even old Bloglines, but the overall clunkiness might have me using Google Reader eventually.

**Note: I am now able to share my feeds (or share my articles as NetVibes calls it) via Twitter.  I didn’t do anything different or change anything, in fact I have spent this time searching online for possible bugs, fixes, incorrect settings, etc. for this.  All of a sudden it now works.  I wrote this post on Monday September 27th.  I set up my NetVibes account Thursday September 23rd.  My only guess is that it takes NetVibes some time to get things set up and working all together. 

I stand by the fact that I love the social sharing part to NetVibes, I am less than thrilled by their apparent bugginess and quirks.  If it does take them time to validate email, Twitter, Facebook, or whatever that should be noted in their FAQs.  Like I said if Google Reader starts implementing social sharing, NetVibes better get their buggy act together because I think might switch.

Facebook and Twitter Have Killed Bloglines

I logged on to my Bloglines account over the weekend and was greeted with the message that Bloglines will shut down October 1st.  According to news update from Ask.com, information is “gained through conversations, and consuming this information has become a social experience. As Steve Gillmor pointed out in TechCrunch last year, being locked in an RSS reader makes less and less sense to people as Twitter and Facebook dominate real-time information flow.”

Ask.com continues to state that Bloglines usage has dropped off considerably as RSS feeds have moved from the consumer side of things to more of the backbone/infrastructure resource for other social information products.  While I completely agree with Ask.com that the rise of Twitter and Facebook have led to more or different methods of information sharing, I still need my RSS feeds.  I have developed quite a list of blogs, news feeds, and Internet search queries that I monitor.  I do pay attention and monitor Twitter and Facebook, and I have noticed that I grab a lot of real time news and information from them but  I have not figured out how to gather topical information to me using something other than my Bloglines feed. 

People have asked me where I have found my information and how do I stay on top of it all.  The simple answer is that I have about 5-10 search strategies that I developed in my feed reader.  These search strategies look throughout the Internet for information, news, blog posts, etc. Whatever it finds is then listed under that feed on my Bloglines and I scroll through it every day like others read the morning newspaper.  I have been able to somewhat duplicate this information retrieval method using TweetDeck (a Twitter application) .  It picks up good but different information from my Bloglines search strategies.  

So what about Facebook?  That is also an interesting method for learning about new information, but it only picks up things that my friends like or post on their walls.  “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”  If information is out there and nobody Facebooks it or tweets it, will I hear it?  I relied on my Bloglines feeds to hear it.

Have feed readers started the path to extinction and I am one of the few still hanging on to it?  Are there other tools out there that I am unaware of that will actively retreive and report information without my friends tweeting or posting it on their wall?  Are there add ons or widgets to these social tools that will find things that my friends don’t? 

In the last year or two people have reported that the blog is dead that people are sharing information via Twitter and Facebook.  So far I have clung to the idea that the blog isn’t dead, but it has evolved and is no longer the blog of old.  The blog of old is dead, the new blog that is integrated into a website, posts to Facebook and Twitter, is still around and important.  It doesn’t take more than 140 characters to share or forward information, but people do communicate in more than 140 characters.  However, the closing of Bloglines is definitely a sign of how things have changed. 

I have no idea how Facebook, Twitter, and things yet to be created will shape how we find and share information in the future. One thing I know is that if you still have a blog (personal or professional) and you haven’t integrated it with Facebook and Twitter you better, and if you have a bunch of feeds on Bloglines and still rely upon them you need to move them before October 1st.  Perhaps moving my feeds to Google is a little akin to arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and feed readers will disappear.  Who knows?  But I am definitely going to be looking at other methods to find information that isn’t always tweeted or posted on a wall.

Friday Fun: Map of the Social Networking World

I ran across this map of the Social Networking World while looking for something else and I thought I would share it with you.  I am not sure what I would use it for other than for fun, conversation, and a possible PowerPoint slide. In other words perfect for a Friday post.
2010 Social Network Map
2010 Social Network Map by Flowtown

 The map was created by Flowtown as an updated tribute to XKCD’s ‘Map of Online Communities.’  The size of the countries/continents reflect the millions of users, for each service (as shown by the scale at the bottom of the image).

It is kind of fun to look through and laugh over a few things like the YouTube Triangle of Viral Videos or the Death Valley of John Mayer Tweets.  One thing I find a little interesting is Google Wave is missing, wouldn’t that be in the Land of Defunct Social Networks, or perhaps should it be the Dried Lake Bed of Google Wave within the Empire of Google?  Just thinking aloud.