TiVo for the Web Published 2006-03-23

I love my TiVo!

TiVo has revolutionized watching TV. Sure, the VCR allowed us to record shows and watch them later. But TiVo is so much more than just a digital recorder. It allows us to personalize the television media.

Many of you were too young (or didn't exist yet) to remember, but there were the days when we only had three stations to choose from and television programming was simple. Friday night 8:00pm meant Brady Bunch. Life was easy.

Today, we have hundreds of stations with crazy programming that makes it difficult to find your favorite show. Enter TiVo. With its favorite channels, season passes and "Wishlist" searches, TiVo allows me to find programming that I can enjoy. Without it, I would not watch TV (the benefit of which can be discussed at another time).

The Internet started out small. Remember using AOL or CompuServe and having everything we need in one place. Today, google the term "education technology" and you get 2,160,000,000 English pages. We need TiVo for the Web.

The answer lies in social bookmarking and RSS. Social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us offer users the ability to organize their favorite sites and pages, tagging each with keywords that allows the user to easily find a particular bookmark. What makes this social bookmarking is that users can view what other users have bookmarked with similar tags. If you are ever wanting to find new information on a topic, it is a good idea to start by exploring the tagged pages in a social bookmarking site.

RSS, Really Simple Syndication, allows us to keep track of changes to the Web. An RSS Feed is just a list of the most recent changes to a particular website. Many sites now offer RSS feeds, especially news sites and blogs. With a RSS reader or aggregator, you can see when a site or bloggger creates new content. Sites like Bloglines offer users a place to store and organize all of the RSS feeds of which they wish to keep track. These sites also allow you to share your feeds through Blogrolls, a public list of the sites that you show interest by subscribing to their RSS feeds.

Recently, I was working on a project that required some Web research. I started by googling various search terms and was successful in finding several sites that helped my understanding of the project topics. Some of the useful sites that I found were blogs and by seeing who these bloggers were reading and viewing a few of their public bookmarks, I found that not only did I understand the project topics better, but I actually had found a community interested in the topics and willing to help with some of my remaining questions.

How are social bookmarking and RSS useful in education. As educators, we need to stay abreast of topics in our discipline and search for new information or innovations in presenting material. These technologies make these tasks much easier.

There are numerous uses for social bookmarking and RSS in education and I will be discussing them in more detail in future postings. For now, suffice to say that these technologies are valuable in making the hugh Web a bit more manageable.




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