Writing by Design

becoming a professional writer

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.

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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Read full article

The semantic web II (and why you should care)

As a follow-up to my get-your-feet-wet posting last week, introducing you to the semantic web, an excellent introduction from one of my favorite blogs, ReadWriteWeb, to the semantic web.

…we’ll analyze the trends and technologies that power the Semantic Web. We’ll identify patterns that are beginning to emerge, classify the different trends, and peek into what the future holds.

And a tip of my hat to the Digital Campus podcast from the Center for History and New Media at Geoge Mason University for highlighting this blog. If you don’t already listen to the Digital Campus monthly podcast, you’re missing the best podcast I know for digital humanists.

Read the full blog from ReadWriteWeb

Check out the Digital Campus podcast

Digital games for real life

If Wii Fit can get me off the couch, if the Weight Watcher’s web tool can cut down on between-meal grazing, and if Chore Wars motivates me and my family to finish the vacuuming, water the garden, and clean out the fridge, why aren’t there more digital games that harness this love of play to encourage us to address issues in everyday life?

That’s the question Alternate Reality Game Designer Designer Jane McGonigal addresses in a Wired interview you can read at http://www.wired.com/gaming/virtualworlds/magazine/15-06/st_arg2

Games can be more than simple entertainment suggests Jane McGonigal. They have the power to fuel scientific research and crowd source real-world problems. A veteran alternate reality game designer and researcher, McGonigal studies the networked communities and how they display collaboration and collective intelligence.

Read the full interview…

Managing your power-hungry computer

The New York Times has an article about the non-profit Climate Savers Computing Initiative and their free software to help computer owners cut down on energy use.

In its drive to go green, the technology industry has so far focused mainly on big targets like corporations and especially computer data centers, the power-hungry computing engine rooms of the Internet economy.

Next come the hundreds of millions of desktop and laptop personal computers in households worldwide.

Microsoft, the nonprofit Climate Savers Computing Initiative and a start-up called Verdiem are combining to put a spotlight on the energy-saving opportunity in PCs, and distributing a free software tool to consumers to help them do it.

Read full article here…

Google and the hidden web

Imagine researching a topic in the biggest library in the world, with access only to the book titles.

It’s a crude analogy, but a warning for everyone–particularly scholars–not to rely too heavily on Google.

A recent study published in D-Lib Magazine found that fewer than half — just 44 percent — of a sample group of deep-Web pages from scholarly archives showed up in Google searches.

Read the article…