Year for Productivity Session 21: Blogs – Their Care and Feeding

year_productivity_graphic_21Blogs are an enormous topic, in part because there are an enormous number of them – including this one, which makes this topic very meta.  The focus here is, of course, blogs as personal knowledge management tools and on their role in education, primarily higher education.  If you are a researcher, this discussion is meant to clarify why you might blog or follow blogs given any one person’s limited available attention.  For librarians, the focus is that as well but also how to help researchers find useful blogs, and help them in deciding whether to blog themselves or how to select tools for blogging.

Why Blogs?

Since blogging first appeared, the value of blogging for academic researchers (including librarians) has been a contentious and continuous debate.  A large part of discussion concerns the kinds of activities that not-yet-tenured faculty should focus their attention upon.  The critics point out  that those seeking tenure need to put their limited amount of available attention to publishing peer-reviewed articles and books.

Blog enthusiasts argue along a couple of tracks.  One, they think that tenure committees will over time begin to value blogs as an important part of the growing altmetrics field.  They point to such venues as Researchblogging.org, arguing it provides a valuable post-publication peer review, and that the peer-review process itself is not without flaws.

Secondly, they point to other benefits of writing blogs.  Blogs in part grew out of people keeping diaries online.  A blog can provide a record of one’s research life, pulling together sources and ideas, adding one’s own ideas, that can be later used to structure a peer-reviewed/edited publication.   Another benefit is that simply writing something down clarifies thoughts.  Knowing that others will read your blog forces one to work through clarification and revision, and improves one’s writing abilities.

Starting a blog has a variety of professional development benefits.  It can attract readers who are interested in the topic, and may result in collaborations on research that will produce peer-reviewed publications.  The networking opportunities are excellent, and produce not only the feeling of belonging to a community (even more pronounced in Twitter), but some report opportunities such as invitations to present at conferences – another product tenure committees look for during tenure review.

An academic, like other professionals, must pay attention to his or her personal brand, and how they manage their online personal identity.  A professional portfolio these days often will include a CV or resume, a LinkedIn profile, and one’s participation in blogs or Twitter or other social media relating to one’s profession.  These can be put together on a site like Impact Story.  The blog University of Venus (GenX Women in Higher Ed, Writing from Across the Globe) is particularly sensitive to the issues of minority students and faculty and is an excellent example of how blogging can give a voice to those too often marginalized.  It also,has the potential to create a backlash that may endanger a career.

Reasons for using a blog are nicely summarized in this quote:

There seem to be many different motives behind science blogging: to share content and express opinions, to improve writing skills, to organize thoughts and ideas and to interact and create relationships inside and outside of the author’s home discipline. Science blogging can give the blogger room for creativity and the feeling of being connected to a larger community. It is a means of establishing an online reputation.
(Shema, 2012)
Blogs can also be used in instruction.  Many professors are creating class blogs so that everyone in the class can participate in discussions.  It should be noted that such uses of blogs are happening in K-12 education as well – the Edublogger site is a primary site for information on K-12 education blogging.

Blogging Networks

Once one appreciates the value of blogs, then one is faced with how to find blogs that are (1) on one’s topic(s) of interest and (2) high quality.  This is a necessity given that there are hundreds of millions of blogs in existence and they are much more dynamic than writing that goes through a publication process.  This dynamism is both a strength and a weakness of blogs.  They are not formally peer-reviewed and edited, which is the main reason tenure committees won’t use them for awarding tenure.  They can also be ephemeral, here today and gone tomorrow.  However, the dynamism is a strength in that they offer news in a field that is much more current than journal articles or books.   Blogs also provide a communication process that most published works lack, through comments or through the active conversations that occur in mircroblogging.

The huge number of available blogs makes it difficult to find the best blogs in a discipline.  A simple way is just to search Google for “best blog” and the topic.  Such articles abound, and looking for the most recent can yield excellent results.  The authors of these articles perform some degree of vetting – they choose only a few blogs and try to choose those that are of the highest quality.

Good blogs get attention.  Really good blogs get lots of attention, and some of them get asked to join blog networks.  Such networks are often organized by a major publisher in the field.  Nature, Scientific American, Wired, and Discover, for example, now provide networks of blogs that, since they have the imprint of those publishers, are judged to be excellent.  Now there are also aggregators of such blog networks.

Bora Zivkovik, blog editor for Scientific American, explains some recent science blogging networks:

This aggregator [Scienceblogging.org] is not trying to be comprehensive, searchable and organized by topic (like ScienceSeeker), nor is it trying to act as a filter for only the posts that cover science with some quality and detail (like ResearchBlogging.org).

ScienceBlogging.org is supposed to give one an easy and quick glimpse of what science blogosphere is talking about at any given moment. Obviously, each of the three aggregators has its uses, its goals, and its intended audience.

(Zifkovic, 2011)

Blog networks do not seem as common in the social sciences and humanities.  The largest network in those fields is not of blogs, but of mailing lists, H-Net:

An international consortium of scholars and teachers, H-Net creates and coordinates Internet networks with the common objective of advancing teaching and research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. H-Net is committed to pioneering the use of new communication technology to facilitate the free exchange of academic ideas and scholarly resources.

Among H-Net’s most important activities is its sponsorship of over 100 free electronic, interactive newsletters (“lists”) edited by scholars in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and the Pacific.

(H-Net introduction, http://www.h-net.org/)

Whether or not blogs are in formal blogging networks, most of us have specific blogs in our personal learning network    We might first stumble on a useful blog, then next explore the blogroll to find other useful blogs.

As with anything information related, it is far too easy to let enthusiasm lead to TMI – Too Much Information.  The number of blogs, RSS feeds, and tweets we follow need continual refinement in order not to be overwhelming.  Ceasing to follow one source doesn’t mean the source isn’t valuable, but you may have gotten the majority of useful comment from it, or your information needs or interests may have changed, or you find another source that is more on target.

Librarians – the original search engine – have always had a content curation role.  This is even more important when our users are drowning in information.  How many librarians, when talking to faculty and students about sources they use, ask about the blogs they follow?  How many librarians add a page of important blogs in the field when creating our research guides?

What tools do we recommend for users who want to start a blog?  For simplicity and price (free), it is hard to beat Blogger.  For more sophisticated work that still doesn’t require one to know programming (usually), content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal all have their followings.  This blog uses WordPress, and my co-author Crystal Renfro teaches a WordPress class and has a guide associated with the class.  Bluehost has a brief table comparing WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal for ease of use, availability of add-ons, how nice it looks, whether it is good for simple or complex sites, and links to sites created with each.

For Further Exploration and Insight:

(1)  What blogs are in your personal learning network?

(2)  Write a comment about how your personal blog network has changed over the last 2 years.

References:

Shema H, Bar-Ilan J, Thelwall M (2012) Research Blogs and the Discussion of Scholarly Information. PLoS ONE 7(5): e35869. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035869
Zivkovic, B.  (2011).  What is ScienceBlogging.org.  The Network Central.  Accessed 10/13/2013.

Selected Readings:

Kharbach, M (2013).  Top 50+ Academic Blogs for Teachers and Educators.  Educational Technology and Mobile Learning.  Accessed 10/13/2013.  Despite the name, this is a post that lists, by blog, posts about the value of academic blogging.  Reading the selected posts give a good flavor of the debate about the value of blogs for academics.

Koh, A. (2013).  Crowdsourcing the Best Digital Humanities Content: Introducing #DHThis, The Digital Humanities Slashdot.  Article from ProfHacker about a site where up or down votes determine the contents of the site.

Shema, H.  (2013).  Do Blog Posts Correlate with a Higher Number of Future Citations?. Accessed 10/13/2013.  The article concentrates on ResearchBlogging.org.

 

 

 

Links Roundup #13

western saddle with a lasso on it

PKM LINK ROUNDUP

Lucky 13!  Yes, this is actually the 13th Links Roundup Post.  Yee-ha!

 

The Awesomest 7-Year Postdoc or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tenure-Track Faculty Life. A really great post on work-life balance for academics.  Lengthy, but a good post for understanding what the early years of new faculty are like.

Twitter Updates

How to Archive Your Favorite TweetsProfHacker post with excellent ideas for keeping tweets on research topics.

Teaching with Twitter:  5 Resources for Getting Started.  Eduhacker post that is the beginning of a series on this topic.

Social Media Updates

Rebel Mouse Wants to Be Your Social Media Home Page – nice article from the editor of the About.com Social Media page.  I have played around with Rebel Mouse some, and it is a pretty good social media aggregator.  Can see it as being particularly useful for an organization wanting to create a web page for their social media.

Evernote and OneNote Updates

Presentation Mode: The Better Way to Present Your Ideas.  Evernote 5.3 for the Mac is the first to roll out this feature of viewing notes in a presentation mode.  It is also for Premium and Business users only.  Still, it seems useful, and I think tends to further indicate that Evernote doesn’t rest on its laurels but is intent on continuously improving the product.

Another great new feature that is so far only available in Evernote 5.3 for the Mac is discussed in Create an Evernote Table of Contents in 1 click.  Can’t wait to try that one.

And yet one more good feature of the new iOS 7 app is Using Quick Notes in the New Evernote App for iOS 7.

Evernote 5 (for Windows) Review – by Jill Duffy, who writes the Get Organized column for PC Mag (although this item was published in ITProPortal).  Talks about some of the new features in Evernote 5 but also does a really good review of the product as a whole, so may be of use if you want to introduce someone to Evernote.

“3M announced a new partnership with Evernote on Thursday that allows users to turn their real-world sticky notes into digital notes that can be saved, shared or viewed from anywhere. The Post-It notes are digitized through a new “Post-it Note Camera” feature in Evernote’s iOS 7 app. Notes that are photographed with the camera are digitally enhanced and uploaded to your Evernote account. Notes can be organized by color within Evernote and the content is searchable. You can also add a reminder or due date to a specific note — such as a time you need to pick someone up from the airport or a payment due date for a bill.”  From Apps You Don’t Want to Miss, 9/28/2013.

OneNote for iPad:  Sophisticated Note Manager that Aims to Usurp Evernote – nice overview of the iPad OneNote app, good for OneNote beginners.

 Google Updates

New Chrome Apps Run on Your Desktop, Offline, and Outside the Browser – Apps on the Desktop!

How to Use Google Hangouts for Lecture Capture – Free Tools!

Security Updates

Online Backup or Local:  Which is Best?  Another good article from Ask Bob Rankin.  The short answer to the question he poses is Yes.  ;-).

Faceless.ME is a VPN app for Windows with Free 2 GB Monthly Bandwidth.  Those of you who use public wifi a lot probably worry about security, and a VPN can address that.  This article reviews a particular VPN app but mentions others and links to reviews of them.

Attention and Focus Updates

How Does Multitasking Really Effect Learning?  is a nice infographic on the topic, might be particularly useful for those working with undergraduates.

 Miscellaneous Tools Updates

6 Unexpected Ways You Can Use Dropbox.  Some nice tips – I did not know about emailing to Dropbox and using DropPages to create a simple web page you can store in Dropbox.

How to Crowdsource and Gamify Your Email – post from ProfHacker with links to some useful posts about managing email.

Building a Research Database with DEVONthink Pro Office – we have not covered this tool in the blog, but Crystal mentions it in her Productivity Tools research guide, and we are aware that a number of grad students and faculty really like it.  This post from GradHacker is really good, laying out the pros and cons and how this researcher uses the tool.

 

 

 

 

Year for Productivity Session 20: Following Our Digital Footprints

year_productivity_graphic_20So what is a digital footprint? According to Webopedia, “This [digital footprint] is information transmitted online, such as forum registration, e-mails and attachments, uploading videos or digital images and any other form of transmission of information — all of which leaves traces of personal information about yourself available to others online.”  Other popular terms for this is one’s “online identity” or the elements that can make or break your “personal brand.”

So, what is the big deal about developing a “personal brand”?  As long as I’m safe on my social networking sites and don’t post lewd pictures or talk carelessly about topics that job interviewers would find objectionable, I’m ok, right?  No, it’s really quite a bit more.  Montoya says, ” Personal branding is a strategic process – it is about intentionally taking control of how others perceive you and managing those perceptions strategically to help you achieve your goals.”  It is marketing Y.O.U. by putting your best foot forward.

By Lorenz kerscher at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

“One of the most basic online tools for branding is that of researcher profiles, which can serve as a first point of contact and a convenient hub that connects scientific works.” (Scientific Marketplace)

Marketing sounds a battle-cry for scientists to communicate their body of research more effectively and competition in the academic arena demands scientists pay attention to promoting their public persona.  Having a researcher id which is current and complete is essential because institutions and funding agencies make their decisions based on the researcher’s CV and reputation can be won or lost depending on what the researcher’s online presence and profile reveal.

Marketing includes many activities that we already do as a regular part of our professional lives; the trick is leveraging those activities to reflect the best of us.  Sharing our presentations on Slideshare or Vivmeo, for example, is one aspect of our online identity, as is facilitating open access to versions of your academic articles. Marc Kuchner says that branding and relationship building are the two key ingredients for scientists marketing themselves.  Marketing oneself, Kuchner cautions, is not just self-promotion; it is “trying to figure out what other people want or need” and then go about showing how what you are doing can meet those wants and needs.

In a post on September 16, 2013, Kuchner talks about the growing role of Linked-In and Facebook Groups for Scientists.  These are groups of professionals often with varying amounts of “proof” as to the professional and scientific standing of anyone wishing to join.  The problem, Kuchner says, is that no index of these professional groups exist and professionals generally locate the groups through serendipitous networking with colleagues or by harvesting the group names off other professionals profiles.

Another avenue is scientific blogging.  Aggregators like Research Blogging () provide opportunities to have your thoughts about peer-reviewed research in your area to reach a larger audience.

Ideas on how to enhance your online identity:

  • Cross-link your profiles so that you present one united identity to the world.
  • Keep your profile current.  Make it a habit to update your experience, presentations, publications and honors on a regular basis.
  • Review your privacy settings. Social networking sites often update their policies and what you thought was private may no longer be.
  • Create a profile on  Academia.edu, a social networking site focused on those in academia
  • Maintain your LinkedIn profile even if you aren’t looking for a job.  Because LinkedIn is so popular, your LinkedIn profiles will likely float close to the surface when you are searched on Google.
  • Blog or Tweet about your past research articles which you have made open access.  Melissa Terras found her article downloads sharply increasing when she followed this technique.
  • Participate constructively in online forums. Online is not the place to vent feelings or frustrations.  Sarcasm is often mistaken for something much more personal and hurtful.

 

For Further Exploration and Insight:

1. Google yourself and explore what your digital footprint is today.  Try the search in a few other search engines as well.  Do you have cleanup to do?

2.Explore one or more of the tools and/or sites mentioned in this article. Where would you fit in?  What about your users?  Would it be advantageous for them?

 

Selected Readings:

Eke, Helen Nneka. (2012). “Creating a digital footprint as a means of optimizing the personal branding of librarians in the digital society,” Webology; Dec2012, Vol. 9 Issue 2, pp1-12 http://www.webology.org/2012/v9n2/a100.html

Fenner, Martin(2012). “One-Click Science Marketing,” Nature Materials,11:5,pp261-263

How to Grow Your Twitter Following:  An infographic with lots of tips for increasing your impact.

Interview with Marc Kuchner, “The m word,” Nature Materials, 11(5) – pp264 – 265

Kuchner, Marc. Marketing for Scientists: How to Shine in Tough Times, Island Press, 2011.

Kuchner’s blog: http://marketingforscientists.com/

Melissa Terras’ Blog, Is Blogging and Tweeting about Research Papers Worth It? The Verdict, April 3, 2012

Montoya, P. (2002a). The brand called you. Part One – What is personal branding. Retrieved May 21, 2012, from http://www.petermontoya.com/pdfs/tbcy-chapter1.pdf

Montoya, P. (2002b). The personal branding phenomenon. London: Personal Branding Press.

“The Scientific Marketplace,”(2012) Nature Materials,11:5,p259

 

 

 

 

 

Have you chosen your top 10 tools for 2013 yet?

1924 photo of a voting booth

De Lux election building and voting booth, Lanham, Md., [11/4/24]
Library of Congress Photo Collection

What has been viewed over 550,000 times since its publication in 2012?

50 Shades of Grey might be one of your first thoughts, but think bigger! Twice as big, to be exact. Not the top 50, but the Top 100 Tools for Learning, compiled annually by Jane Hart has been viewed literally millions of times in the past seven years. And now, time is running out to post your vote for the Top 100 Tools for Learning, the 2013 edition.
If this wonderful resource sounds familiar, you might be remembering the post I did last year when the voting was open for the 2012 list. Hard to believe a full year has gone by already, but here we are, getting ready to vote again for our top 2013 tools. Last year Jane compiled the top 10 lists of over 500 learning professionals (just like you and me!) in order to create her Top 100 list. Now you can make your voice heard!

Voting closes for the 2013 list on September 27, 2013, and that is right around the corner, so don’t delay! VOTE HERE NOW !
While you are Jane’s Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies, take a look at the winners from the past couple of years. You might find a new tool to explore, or leave feeling somewhat smug that you are in sync with some of the top learning professionals when it comes to the tools you use in your personal knowledge management.

Year for Productivity Session 19: Which Social Media Tool is Right for You?

year_productivity_graphic_19As an academic librarian, the number one thing I keep in mind in dealing with faculty and students is that they are Very Busy People.  So what I have to offer them should be solutions that save them time, or at best, contain a good reason as to why they should invest time in that solution.

Social media tools include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and, these days, a cast of thousands of other tools, with new ones popping up every day.    Collectively they are vast time sinks in which one can resolve to take a quick look only to come up for air hours later having accomplished nothing one intended to do.  Used well, however, they can be an essential part of a researcher’s academic workflow, both as it is now and as it is evolving.

Exactly what are we talking about when we discuss social media or social networking?  “Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks.” (Wikipedia)

What do academic researchers do?  They research, they teach, and they write and publish.  Social media tools can help in all of these.  What are the needs of researchers that can be met with social networking tools?  The most important would be communication, whether it is one-to-one (email, for example), one-to-many (blog posts as an example), or many-to-many (conversations on listservs or Twitter).  In this way, researchers can find out what others are doing in related subjects and sometimes collaborate with them.  It is now easier than ever to discover that the person doing research most similar to one’s own lives in Cork, Ireland, while the researcher lives in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.  It is also easier to work on a project and/or publication with that person.

I don’t use Twitter myself, but many researchers find it a key tool to keep up with conversations about research.  Since the communciations are brief, they can be scanned quickly, the number of researchers and hashtags one follows can constantly be refined, and they often point to useful published research on a topic.   Researchers can also pose questions and get quick answers from their trusted network in the twitterverse.

Some of those in one’s Twitter network might write blogs, and the researcher might then add that person’s blog to their RSS news feed reader and follow the blog that way.  Or a tweet might point to a research center in a university, and one can like that center on Facebook in order to follow news out of that organization, or can follow their posts on LinkedIn.  The researcher might then turn to a social media aggregation tool such as HootSuite or Rebel Mouse so that all of these streams of information are available on a single page, rather like an electronic newspaper.  Such a workflow is seen, for example, in a recent GradHacker post from Ashley Sanders called Keeping Up with Trends.

Those are just a few examples of how an academic might use social media for research.  More information and case studies can be found in Social Media: A Guide for Rsearcherse from the Research Education Network (RIN).

So how might professors use social media in teaching?  Some social media tools such as blogs and forums are built into many Learning Managment Systems (LMS), so that professors and students have ways of communication about a class.  One current hot topic in teaching is the flipped classroom, in which students view a lecture video by their professor for the class session before coming into class, so that the class time is devoted to discussion or working through problems.  Some classes might create a YouTube channel and upload videos that they create as part of their assignments for the class.

Once a researcher has published, she might then disseminate information about the publication on LinkedIn, to her Twitter and Facebook networks, and so on.  Since tenure promotions are based in large part on how well a researcher’s publications have fared, measured in numbers of times cited and in the prestige of the journals in which the research is published, a researcher must pay as much attention to managing her reputation as any corporate manager on the rise.  Academic reputation may increasingly cover the impact of writing a well-regarded blog, or being an active part in a Twitter community around a particular topic.

So now that we have discussed why an academic researcher might want to use social media, how does one choose which tool?  The ones mentioned in this post so far are only the most common and well known tools.  If one includes apps as well as software programs for desktops/laptops, there are literally thousands with new ones added everyday.

Of course, one source is to listen to trusted colleagues, whether on one’s campus or at another.  One’s social media network will mention the tools they use most along with their recommendations.  Other trusted sources will hopefully include a librarian, and the knowledge network he takes part in.  For example, at our university we have a Teaching and Learning Resources research guide which has a page of Educational Technology resources.  The page includes links to useful sites/blogs, feeds from some blogs such as the Wired Campus blog, a slideshow of Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning, and a link to Bamboo DiRT, an extensive and unique directory of research tools for academics, organized into categories.  The readings below will also mention some useful social media tools and their uses.

So blog about us, like us on Facebook, and tweet about us (#academicpkm).  We double dare you.  ;-).

Selected Readings:

Scholarly Articles:
Gruzd, A., Staves, K., & Wilk, A. (2012). Connected scholars: Examining the role of social media in research practices of faculty using the UTAUT model. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(6), 2340-2350. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2012.07.004

Gu, F. F., & Widén-Wulff, G. G. (2011). Scholarly communication and possible changes in the context of social media: A Finnish case study. Electronic Library, 29(6), 762-776. doi:10.1108/02640471111187999

Rowlands, I.; Nicholas, D.; Russell, B.; Canty, N.; Watkinson, A..”Social media use in the research workflowLearned Publishing, July 2011, 24(3):183-195 DOI: 10.1087/2011030

Tenopir, C., Volentine, R., and King D., (2013) “Social media and scholarly reading”, Online Information Review, Vol. 37 Iss: 2, pp.193 – 216. DOI: 10.1108/OIR-04-2012-0062.

Report:

Social Media: A Guide for Researchers (2011). From the Research Information Network (RIN). Includes some lists of tools, but also case studies of how researchers are using them.

Blog posts and Web sites:

Alampi, A. (7/24/2012) “Social Media is More Than Simply a Marketing Tool for Academic Research“. Higher Education Network. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Cheok, A. D. (8/27/2012). Using Social Media Tools for Academic Research. Elsevier Biggerbrains. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Gill J. (1/2/2013). “Six Ways to Use Google+ Hangouts for Academic Productivity“. The Contemplative Mammoth. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Johnson, A (1/18/2013). “Using Twitter for Curated Academic Content”. Impact of the Social Sciences. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Jones, J. (11/23/2011). “Social Media for Research: Open Resource“. “What I can do, instead, is offer up the entire workshop as a resource and hope that perhaps others might find it more useful. Below are slides, links to resources and readings and some reflection about teaching social media for research”. Jennifer M. Jones. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Priego, E. (9/12/2011). “How Twitter will Revolutionize Academic Research and Teaching“. Higher Education Network. Accessed 9/16/2013.

Platt, J. (2/8/2013). “Being a Good Colleague with Social Media“. GradHacker. Accessed 9/16/2013.

For Further Exploration and Insight:

(1) If you are a librarian, what would you advise incoming grad students about using social media? Write down an outline of what you will say.
(2) If you are an academic researcher, what would you advise a new colleague about using social media? Write down an outline of what you will say.

Links Roundup #12

western saddle with a lasso on it

PKM LINK ROUNDUP

Meta Articles on Choosing the Right Tools:

How to Make Prudent Choices About Your Tools. EXCELLENT post from the ProfHacker blog that is not about specific tools for academic workflow (though it does mention a few), but how to go about choosing the tools you use. Very timely for new graduate students and faculty this fall.

Paradox of Powerful Tools – makes the excellent point that the more decisions a tool requires you to make, the longer it will take to be productive with that tool.

Play to Your Strengths:  Adapting Your Writing Software to Your Writing Style. GradHacker and ProfHacker are starting to publish again after their summer breaks and coming up with great posts for the new grad student and/or faculty member. This GradHacker post mentions a variety of different tools for writing and citing, as well as suggestions for choosing these tools, and gives the example of the author’s workflow and tools used.

Focus, Attention, and Time Management Updates:

Balancing Work at Home with PomodoroProfHacker post from a professor on using Pomodoro to keep on track with tasks while working at home.

What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate (And How it Benefits You) – Lifehacker post that discusses the parts of the brain affected by meditation and the beneficial effects of even short periods of meditation.

Start a New Habit with Chains.cc – ProfHacker post on a new web and iOS app that helps visualize Don’t Break the Chain idea for creating a habit.  Also mentions other ways of tracking adherence to a habit.

Ok, now I’m just amused.  When WebMD has a slideshow on Top Concentration Killers, you know that attention management has hit the mainstream.  And for a slideshow, it is well done, handles the material in concise blocks of text, and offers a concentration killer followed by a fix for that particular problem.

IFTTT Updates:

Several IFTTT updates (If you are new to IFTTT, please see this previous post.):

(1) The service now has a New York Times channel.  There are suggested recipes.  If someone plays around with adding their proxy server ID to a recipe, please note it in the comments.

(2) BIG announcement from IFTTT – they now have a way to embed recipes anywhere that you can place an embed code.  Since I’m betting a large number of you design and create web pages, LibGuides, or both, this could be big news and really increase the usefulness of IFTTT for librarians.

(3)  Twitter triggers are back.  Twitter had pulled them, but has apparently relented.

Evernote Updates:

(1)   8 Pro Tips for Evernote Power Users.  Post from Mashable on tips and tricks to use with Evernote.  I spotted one error, it says reminders haven’t rolled out to Android users, but they have.  Good post otherwise.  Mashable is one place for great updates on technology, especially mobile and social media, but it has so many posts it is hard to keep up.

(2)  Take a Minute to Collect Your Thoughts with Evernote.  This post is from 2010, and Evernote has many new features since, but there aren’t a lot of articles about how academic researchers use Evernote and this is a good one from ProfHacker.

(3)  Experiments with an Electronic Lab Notebook.  GradHacker post by a PhD student in Chemical Engineering who is using Evernote as his ELN.  We are always looking for posts about how Evernote is used by academics, and this is a nice addition to that “genre”.

(4)  How Students Use Technology Outside the Classroom.  Discusses mostly free apps like Evernote, Google Hangouts, Google Drive and social media tools to advance their classwork.  Includes graduate students using Google Hangouts to work collaboratively.

(5)  Going Paperless: 5 More Tips for Speeding Up Productivity with Evernote Using Third-Party Tools.  Whew, long title!  Good tips on increasing productiivity with Evernote.  I particularly want to try KustomNote.

There are, of course, a plethora of articles now about best apps for back to school, and all the ones I’ve seen include Evernote.  PC Mag has a good one, divided into apps for elementary, intermediate, high school, and college/university – though I thought even some of those for primary/secondary useful for collge students as well.  And of course my gripe with the article is the author doesn’t look hard enough for Android alternatives to iOS apps.

Miscellaneous Updates:

Eight Thoughts After Trying the Samsung Chromebook – first review I’ve seen of the Chromebook for academic work.  In sum, if you use the Chrome environment including Google Docs, this is very reasonably priced.

Twitter Update Makes it Easier to Follow Conversations. Would think this would be particularly useful for academic conversations.

464 Digital Learning Tools to Sift Through on a Rainy Day – given how much rain there has been in Atlanta this year, I might make it through this list at some point…

30+ Mind Mapping Tools – from Mashable, divides them into free and subscription/purchase.

Google Play Hits the Books in Time for Fall Semester.  Discusses the availability of college textbooks in Google Play, both for purchase and for rent.

SECURITY TIP:  Two Factor Authentication.  Another good post from Bob Rankin, this one an explanation of two factor authentication (2FA), and why it is useful.