December 06, 2007
Last Blog Entry
I've Come A Long Way...The end of the semester. WOW! It seems like just yesterday when I came stumbling into the computer lab with no idea what to expect of the class, already thinking I knew everything there was to know about Google and searching on it. Boy was I wrong. I am going to break this final blog into four parts: things I thought I knew but didn't, things that I had no idea about, tools I know I will use after this semester, and one way to change the class.
Things I Thought I Knew... But Didn't
- As I stated earlier, I walked in thinking I knew everything there was to know about searching on Google. I was shocked when we started talking about special syntaxes. I also learned about the precision and recall that search engines aim for.
- I thought I knew about news sites and how to follow a company on the web. Again, I was wrong. Email alerts, page monitors, and RSS feeds were all new to me. I thought you could just look at there press release page and you would know everything that was going on.
- Tagging. I thought del.icio.us was the only tagging site out there. Wrong again. We learned all about social networks and the various types of stuff (pictures, blogs, websites, movies, etc.) that get tagged and the sites to best access them.
Things I Had No Idea About
- I was surprised at the size of the Deep Web. I had never heard of it before and seriously thought that search engines were able to search these invisible sites. Now I know that you need to use special search engines and techniques to utilize these
- RSS Feeds. Again, something completely new. I think they are the most useful thing we learned all semester. The amount of time that they can save is incredible. Having these to monitor personal topics of interest and then the business topics for our wikis was the best resource and one that I will continue to use.
- Wikis. Never heard of them before this class. They are a great tool for organizing information of a topic (like how we organized our term projects). They are easier to use then creating a web page and give you more flexibility when creating subpages.
Tools I Know I Will Use In The Future
- I will definitely continue to use RSS Feeds. As I stated earlier their ability to monitor different sources on a variety of topics makes them the ideal tracking tools. As time goes on, I feel like they will only get better because more sites will start to offer feeds.
- The search principles from the Web Search Garage are another thing that I will use whenever I use a search engine. I guess that some of them are kind of basic and you do them without thinking about it, but others are very useful and help create unique queries that yield precise results.
- Multimedia tagging sites are a third thing that I will continue to use. My favorite is iMeem. It offers free streaming music and the ability to create personal playlists. Another obvious favorite is YouTube because of its vast coverage of everything. I also liked Flickr but will only use it to supplement Google Images due to familiarity with the latter.
One Way To Change The Class
- For next year, I would keep the readings and the books (unless a newer version comes out) because they supplemented the lectures very nicely (which should also stay the same). The exams were structured well and emphasized what was important in class. But the one thing that I would change is the term projects. I would suggest only having one, whether it is personal or business related doesn't matter. I know a problem for me was getting started. I didn't really have an idea what to do until we learned the things in class an then I always felt like I was behind in material. I did not have a strong background in most of these tools, so I was just sitting on Google for hours searching with different queries until we learned all the techniques you wanted us to include. I like the idea of the project and it is really fun to do, but I feel like it kind of back-loads the course because of its structure.
I also wonder if any of these tools I learned will be applicable in a month (6 months, a year, 2 years). There is no way to predict where the internet is going, but if something radical comes out that changes everything, I would feel like I wasted some time learning this stuff. I do not think there is anything that you can do adjust for this, but it is something to keep in mind.
Sorry to end on such a sour note, but I really did love this class. The search techniques and online tools that I learned have already payed off and I hope they continue to in the future. I would definitely recommend this class to all my friends, so I hope you will be offering it next fall. Thanks again.
What's better: Google Images or Flickr?
Google Images was developed in December 2001. It is a free service brought to you by Google that allows users to use keywords to search for images on the entire visible web. The site does not require any registration or information about the user.
How Images are Found:
To begin an image search, a user must develop a unique query to effectively use the search engine. One the search is entered, Google Images returns a page with the results. Each result shows a thumbnail of the image, a short description, image size, and the website where the image can be found. Google Images searches the filename, text pointing to the image, and text adjacent to the image to index each image and allow it to be searchable.
I have to admit, I use Google Images for almost every image search that I do. It provides very precise results and allows users to see a variety of image types. Glancing through the first 100 results for the query "hat", it looked like 85-90% were relevant. The benefit of being a subsidiary of one of the best companies in the world (Google) obviously has its benefits, and those benefits are portrayed though Google Images.
One of my favorite features is the frame that pops up after clicking the thumbnail. Having this frame allows users to easily get back to the search results, while still allowing them get the context of the image and obtain a bigger picture if necessary.
Another feature that makes Google Images my preferred image search engine is the standard Google interface that I am very familiar with.
Google's Advanced search engine is another beneficial feature. It allows users to narrow down their results based on content, size, filetype, coloration, domain, and filtering options.
Flickr is a web based photo sharing platform. Its popularity has surged since February of 2004 due to the strong support by bloggers because of the online community tools that allows users to tag and browse photos by folksomic means. Registration is required to upload pictures but not view them. A simple Yahoo! account gives you full access to the site.Yahoo! Acquired Flickr in March 2005 and used it to replace their outdated Yahoo! Photos.
How Images are Found:
Unlike Google Images, Flickr has multiple ways to find images. The first is similar to Google Images. You enter a query on the home page and are directed to a result page with a thumbnail and along with the image name, date of upload, author, and tags. The second way to find images is click on a tag and view all the images in the category on a page similar to the search one.
I have found Flickr to be more useful when you do not have a specific image in mind that you are looking for. Here is a sample situation: you decide you want to use a picture of something (person, dog, anything) jumping, you aren't really sure what you want it to look like, just a cool looking picture. You would either search for jump of click on the jump tag to see all the cool pictures offered. I also do not think you would be looking for "official" pictures (logos, ads) because of the user generated content.
The best feature of this site is the social networking that it allows. It allows user to upload personal photos, blog with others, tag photos, create collections, have favorite, make contacts, and join groups through your user created profile.
Flickr also allows users to switch photos that they had on Yahoo! Photos over due to the merger of the two.
Flickr also allows users to edit and print their pictures using the Picnik feature. The final cool feature is the Organizr feature. It is what allows users to modify the tags, descriptions, and groupings of their pictures. It also allows users to place their pictures on a world map to show either where they have come from or what they are of. Flickr would not be the same without it.
While both Google and Yahoo provide great products, Google seems to have the edge in image searching. Flickr seems to focus more on the social aspect of photos and not so much the search and it seems to take away from the ability to find useful images. In Google Images, you get what you are expecting. Enough said. And that makes it better.
December 05, 2007
Searching for Multimedia
Revolutionary Media: iMeem.com
The service has both a social network structure and a browsing/filtering structure similar to that of Flickr and YouTube Unlike these two sites, however, iMeem is independently owned and operated. It is funded by an advertising based business model and therefore free to use for viewers/listeners. However, the ad campaign for iMeem is managed by DoubleClick, somewhat linking it to Google.
Getting Started:The first thing that is required when using the site is that you create an account. Creating an account is simple. All you need to enter is your name, an email address, date of birth, and gender. After registering, you are directed to a site where you are able to create and edit your profile. You can upload a picture of yourself, find friends on the site, or invite friends that do not have the service. In your profile, you can also see all the media that you have uploaded, including songs, videos, playlists, and photos. This is also the page where you upload to.
Favorites: When viewing videos or listening to songs, you have the ability to mark them as favorites. When they are marked, they are sent to a link in your profile where you, and others, can view what your favorites are.
Ability to Message/Have Friends/Join Groups: Another aspect of the socialability of the site. Users can send messages to each other, whether they are friends or not. The ability to add friends makes iMeem similar to sites such as MySpace or Facebook. The friends feature links people to each other through the music. Joining groups allows people with similar interest to share views about anything they want, whether or not it is pertinent to the group.
Search: While the search option only allows users to search the site for relevant media material and fails to allow for special syntaxes, it is critical to the success of the site. Users can enter the name of a song/artist/playlist into the search bar and the site will provide all the media that seems relevant to the query. In all the searches that I have tried, what I was looking for was one of the top 4 options.
Playlist: The ability to create your own playlists and view others' playlsits allows users to seemlessly switch from song to song in a chosen or random order. The playlists are all music that the person likes or want to experiment with, so happiness is the only option. It also allows users to listen to a genre of music even if they are not familiar with any artists of that genre.
Ratings and Tagging: Users have the ability to rate any type of media to suggest others to view/listen to it. Users also have the ability to tag any type of media to create categories to assist other users in searching for something that tickles there fancy.
Featured/Rising/Falling/Most Played/Random/Recent: Top 100 lists are constantly updated for these 6 categories. iMeem creates the Featured media based not only on popularity, but due to advertising ability and sponsorship. User activity creates the Rising, Falling, and Most Played lists. Recent user uploads create the Recent category and the random category is just there for user you don't know what they are feeling at that moment. It gives them a variety of everything on the site in hopes of attracting them to another segment of music to increase demand for music overall.
Community: This is maybe the most intriguing and social page on the site. Community allows users to check out existing groups, view other users, check out user photos, and participate in user created polls. This all contributes to the networking and provides an outlet for any type of topic that one wants to discuss.
Download: Along with advertising, this is a feature that makes the site run. The ability to download in a prominent location of the site convinced record labels to allow this streaming music. When users are listening to a song, directly next to the play button is a "download this song" button. Users are then given the option to go to iTunes or Amazon.com to complete the purchase.
ConclusioniMeem is an excellent social networking and media sharing site that allows users to expand their knowledge and preferences in music, photos, and videos while meeting others with the same interests. Great new (relatively) site.
November 12, 2007
RSS Feed: The Good and The BadAfter gaining a basic knowledge from my previous blog entry on RSS feeds, I began to focus on the feeds that I thought would be most beneficial to me for my term projects. As I said earlier, the aggregator I am most familiar with, and thus most likely to use, is Bloglines. For this analysis I will be evaluating the feeds that I have been getting from this site.
ESPN.com: The first feed that I will be evaluating is provided by sporting giant ESPN. This feed provides news of the top sports stories from across the world. It has been the most helpful feed that I have used due its abundance of information regarding rankings, schedules, and scores. One downfall of this feed is that fact that I am getting more than just feeds about college football. While sorting through the headlines is fairly easy, if I were able to refine the updates to just pages regarding college football, this feed would be ideal.
SI.com College Football Blog This feeds is a link directly to the college football blog written by Steward Mandel from Sports Illustrated. It is a blog that is updated at least 5 times a week (usually twice or three times each Saturday after the games end) that highlights major stories from the week and any breaking news. It is very specific to the type of information that I am looking for in my wiki and thus very useful. One downfall is that he is very opinionated and thus his material needs to be needs with this in mind.
Michigan College Football Forum This feed is dedicated to Michigan Football. It provides funny articles, pictures, and videos as they happen. The writer, who refers to himself as "Yost", is very entertaining. He writes from the perspective of a Michigan fan, but isn't that the point of the site? One great thing about this site is the frequency at which it is updated. "Yost" writes at least 2 entries a day and he seems to exceed that every weekend, especially when Michigan loses.
In The Bleachers College Football Blog The final feed that I will be analyzing is another blog, this one written by Brain Sakowski. He writes on the top stories across college football. He also provides some insight on Div. 1-AA, which I will not be covering in my blog. I noticed some of his information is incorrect and almost all of his prediction and upset alerts are wrong. This makes me less likely to use any information from the site because I do not want to have to check every stat to make sure I do not have any contradictory information in my wiki.
As you can see, there is a wealth of information about college football and it is expanding every day. Checking these RSS news and blogs feeds proves to be a very efficient way of staying up to date in the world of college football.