Writing by Design

becoming a professional writer

Archive for Tools

Mindmapping tools and visualization

I’ve been thinking lots lately about encouraging students to use mindmapping both for their writing and for their reading.  And since mindmapping is closely related to visualization, I was intrigued by Audrey Watters’s news that WorldCat, the world’s largest library catalogue, has launched a new interactive tool that lets users visually explore the catalog.

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PowerPoint: the kudzu of modern communication | Cory Franklin | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Some unfortunate conference participant, undoubtedly still suffering flashbacks, who harbours a lingering animus towards Bill Gates and his software, once dubbed the PowerPoint presentation as “Killing You Microsoftly”. Such an invidious metaphor is unfair. To death. At least when you die, you’re fortunate enough to have endured your last PowerPoint presentation. The unlucky who go on living must continue to endure PowerPoint, an invasive species threatening the information ecosystem, the kudzu of software.

via PowerPoint: the kudzu of modern communication | Cory Franklin | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

Ready to use RSS? Google Reader in Plain English

From the talented, innovative Common Craft team, a clear, step-by-step introduction to one of the most popular of the RSS Readers, Google Reader.

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Widgets for writing courses?

A report in today’s Chronicle of Higher Education about Dr. Mark Marino’s use of modular widgets for student submissions on his writing course web page.

Merino, a lecturer in the writing program at the University of Southern California, says that using Web widgets for online course materials furthers the goals of open courseware, efforts by professors and colleges to give away their lecture notes and other teaching materials online.

The main benefit of widgets over traditional Web pages is “portability,” Mr. Marino said in an interview. “We’re kind of saying ‘steal my content — take any piece of this class easily and put it where you want it.’”

Read more about Merino’s work at the Writer-Response Theory Blog.

Weekend treat: back-to-school digital goodies

I was planning to write a back-to-school blog this weekend, with information about some free online tools for students and instructors. ReadWriteBlog has beaten me to it with a great list of this year’s most useful web applications for students.

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New, user-friendly data visualization tool

From the New York Times:

At an experimental Web site, Many Eyes, (www.many-eyes.com), users can upload the data they want to visualize, then try sophisticated tools to generate interactive displays. These might range from maps of relationships in the New Testament to a display of the comparative frequency of words used in speeches by Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

The site was created by scientists at the Watson Research Center of I.B.M. in Cambridge, Mass., to help people publish and discuss graphics in a group. Those who register at the site can comment on one another’s work, perhaps visualizing the same information with different tools and discovering unexpected patterns in the data.

Visit many-eyes.com

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New TAPoR Portal

TAPoR has launched a new, useful portal to showcase its impressive range of digital text analysis resources for scholars, and to provide easy access to its Open Source tools.

You can browse TAPoR projects (including UVic’s) to get a sense of the range of possibilities TAPoR offers.

TAPoR is an acronym for Text Analysis Portal for Research, a CFI supported project involving researchers from six universities across Canada, including the University of Victoria, who work with electronic texts and text analysis. The word “tapor” is an Old English form of “taper” − a wick or candle.