Useful links roundup

Web Worker Daily has a great set of links to online browser testing services. They list seven, some of them free, such as IE NetRenderer, which will show your page in IE 5.5, 6, or 7.

Flocking to the pictures, in TiKouka, gives an excellent overview of what the social media browser Flock is all about. If you are a big user of social media, Flock sounds like a good app to investigate and perhaps use.

Online Survival Guide: 9 Tips for Dealing with Idiots on the Internet provides some good advice from Internet Duct Tape. Don’t let yourself get disemvoweled.

The Kimberly Blessing Interview by Christopher Schmitt is worth a read. Blessing started as an Interactive Developer for AOL. She currently works for PayPal as the manager of their Web Development Platform Team. Kimberly authored the “The Circle of Standards” chapter for the book, Adapting to Web Standards. She’s also a co-leader of the Web Standards Project. The conversation ranges from web standards, to coping with SXSWi when you’re an introvert, to fan sites. (This last was of interest to me, since I’ve been running a fan site for years, but mine is a definite Web 1.0 site.)

Summary of eHow articles for December

Christmas Cactus

The Christmas cactus is about to bloom. A sure sign that winter is here.

Check out my latest on eHow.

Useful links for today

WikiMatrix – Compare Them All is a wiki comparison tool. There is help in choosing a wiki, a comparison matrix, and a forum.

A series of reports on the Symposium on Reputation Economies in Cyberspace at Yale by 43(B)log begins with Reputation Economies, the day’s first panel. Blogger Rebecca Tushnet also posted about the second panel in Reputation economies, Panel II: Privacy and Reputational Protection. Her post on the third panel is Reputation economies, Panel III: Reputational Quality and Information Quality. The fourth report is Reputation economies, Panel IV: Ownership of Cyber-Reputation. Rebecca Tushnet was a member of this panel. Fascinating discussions at what must have been a remarkable symposium. In my opinion, it’s worth your time to read all four posts.

LinkedIn vs. Facebook

For a while, people were saying that Facebook was going to bury LinkedIn. Then the advertising program Facebook Beacon backfired and garnered lots of negative feelings and privacy concerns.

See How To Block Facebook’s Beacon if you would like to know how to keep Beacon from tracking both Facebook members and nonmembers.

Now LinkedIn is undergoing a metamorphosis with new principle officers, a new look, and all sorts of plans to stay relevant, according to this article at Business Week.

I’m an infrequent user of LinkedIn, but I am a user. I’m not actively trying to create new contacts or find new jobs. However, LinkedIn is a dignified way to do that, for those who are interested.

I’m not on Facebook. I’m far beyond the college days and far from the target user there. I know many university students and instructors who may be reading or using my books are Facebook members. After all, Facebook is huge: anyone interested in technology can’t help but keep up with what’s happening there. To me, Facebook is a wild and wooly place where youthful folly has a way of haunting users later. LinkedIn doesn’t do that kind of damage.

I don’t think Facebook’s misfire with Beacon was needed to keep LinkedIn viable or necessary. The two sites serve two distinct audiences. There’s plenty of room for both.

A look at SezWho

I heard from the folks at SezWho this week. They are trying to get people interested in their new rating and reputation service for blogs, forums, wikis and other social sites. I felt wary. I’d just been through an investigation into Rapleaf and Upscoop, reputation ratings sites that turned out to be less than wonderful.

When I started looking into SezWho, I discovered I’d already seen it in action on some of the social media sites I frequent. A number of sites adopted it while it was still in beta. It’s in full release now.

Here’s how it works. A individual sets up a profile and uses it when participating on blogs, wikis, forums or any other site with user generated content. Other users comment on the value of the individual’s comments. It’s rather like the way you rate sellers on eBay or Amazon by giving feedback on their service. In this way, the individual builds up a portable reputation that follows from site to site.

This is the official SezWho description of the benefits of SezWho:

The Red Carpet widget lets communities feature top-rated participants on a virtual red carpet. Each avatar links to individual profiles that provide a history of comments, associated articles or pages, and the overall ranking for each. The new SezWho badge lets contributors display their personal rating and expertise portfolio on their blogs or other sites to reinforce an earned reputation.

Beyond tracking conversations and the value of individual contributions, the latest SezWho release also provides statistics for both contributors and site owners. Contributor statistics show who and how many people are rating and viewing a contributor’s profile. Site statistics show how much additional traffic SezWho is driving and where that traffic is coming from.

All types of community participants benefit from SezWho. Readers use SezWho to find interesting content quickly and easily based on community ratings. Content contributors build credibility with SezWho, then carry reputations and aggregated knowledge to other sites. Site owners leverage contributor-based content discovery to drive traffic and encourage community participation. SezWho drives traffic through contributor profiles that link to additional content within the community.

It’s easy to implement. There are various browser platform plugins. Or you can get code to paste into your template similar to what you do with Feedburner or Digg to track posts.

Maybe you’ve seen SezWho in action, too, as I have. Sites such as Read/WriteWeb and VentureBeat have been using it. When SezWho is implemented on a site a small form at the end of a comment asks you to rate a comment as helpful or not. You also see a form that lets you filter comments by ratings, so you can read the highest rated comments first. If you have a profile and have developed a good reputation as a partcipant, you can put a badge showing your reputation on your own site. (I assume you wouldn’t want to advertise a bad reputation.)

The company PR above claims that SezWho has a way of seeing who is rating a profile. Does that mean SezWho has a method to prevent abuse, such as the kind of gaming Digg or SlashDot have had to deal with in reputation management? Or does that mean that there are some privacy issues that are getting glossed over? I can’t find anything on the site about privacy issues.

SezWho doesn’t make sense for a site like this one that has few comments. But for a site with dozens of commenters on almost every post, it would be good to have a way to filter the meaningful remarks from the chaff submitted by people who are just trying to get their URL out there because they were told that commenting on blogs was a good way to spread their URL around. I see potential for a good thing with SezWho, but I’d like to know more about how they track individuals and what they do with that information once they have it.

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National School Boards reports on social networking

The National School Boards Associaton just published a study called CREATING & CONNECTING//Research and Guidelines on Online Social—and Educational—Networking as a PDF file.

The study was comprised of three surveys: an online survey of 1,277 nine- to 17-year-old students, an online survey of 1,039 parents and telephone interviews with 250 school district leaders who make decisions on Internet policy.

According the the NSBA Media Advisory on the report, these are the key findings:

  • 96 percent of students with online access use social networking technologies, such as chatting, text messaging, blogging, and visiting online communities such as Facebook, MySpace, and Webkinz. Further, students report that one of the most common topics of conversation on the social networking scene is education.
  • Nearly 60 percent of online students report discussing education-related topics such as college or college planning, learning outside of school, and careers and 50 percent of online students say they talk specifically about schoolwork.
  • Students report spending almost as much time using social network services and Web sites as they spend watching television. Among teens who use social networking sites, that amounts to about 9 hours a week online, compared to 10 hours a week watching television.
  • 96 percent of school districts say that at least some of their teachers assign homework requiring Internet use.

With almost 100% of today’s students reporting that they use online technology such as social networking, chatting, texting, and blogging the NSBA has some observations and recommendations for education and educators.

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Catch me speaking at BlogHer

BlogHer '07 I'm SpeakingI made a public vow in these pages speak at two places where I’d never been this year. The vow related to the controversy over the number of men vs. women who speak at tech conferences. Does the BlogHer gig serve to tote up a check mark as a new conference for me regarding that vow? It’s a new thing for me, in any case. I’ll be on a tech panel and hope to meet a lot of interesting bloggers while I’m there. It’s an inexpensive conference, if you’re a blogger who’d like to expand your horizons, then come to Chicago. Yes, men are welcome!