New Media Picks Of The Week: Sharewood Picnic 35
Sharewood Picnic is my weekly collection of new media resources and tools. In it you find the best new media tools and picks I run into every week during my daily research and explorations into the future of independent media publishing.
Photo credit: Tyler Olson
This week as before I have collected for you a great list of new media services and tools that can further enable, augment, enhance your ability to communicate, share and inform yourself in new and more effective ways.
Here is what I have found:
- All-in-one web-service to record, upload, encode, and publish video clips online
- Participatory news aggregator and community site
- Add intelligence to Outlook email organization
- Text-to-mp3 conversion tool
- Favicons creator
- State of the art portable multi-media device
- P2P music sharing project for wifi-enabled PDAs
- Future-publish entries in RSS feeds
- BBC opens news archives
- The principles of easy interface design
OpenVlog is a free web-based service that allows anyone to record, upload, encode, publish and share their video in a simple and straightforward manner. There is no software to download or configure and the service works with all types of computers including PCs, Macs and Linux boxes. OpenVlog utilizes Flash-based technology to convert, encode and display all videos uploaded to its servers. The nice feature, pioneered a long-time ago by services like Audioblog.com and more recently by Video Egg, is the ability to record your own video directly while using your own computer webcam. OpenVlog also allows the direct upload of existing video clips and it supports most existing video file formats. Max duration for video clips uploaded is five minutes. Free to use.
Newsvine is a news media site that presents news like MSNBC or CNN, but in a much more attractive interface. Even better, Newsvine is also a community of users that can tag stories, comment on stories and chat with others. Newsvine turns the news into a conversation by letting anyone comment on a story the same way one does on a blog entry. The site's content is made up of links to stories from major and minor news sources that have been tagged and categorized by users themselves. Anyone can link to any story from any source, tag it and let the global discussion begin. Newsvine also brings in the capabilities of digg, allowing users to vote on the importance of any story. Newsvine lets users become newsmakers, with columns and submitted stories appearing at "yourname.newsvine.com". Further, Newsvine is led by ex-ESPN and Disney employees and former ESPN.com CEO Mike Slade who sits on the company's board of directors.
SNARF is a Microsoft software-add-on for Outlook that automatically organizes users' inboxes using "email triage." Standing for "Social Network and Relationship Finder," SNARF is definitely more useful than the semantics of the name imply. Ideal for people that frequently receive huge amounts of email but have little time to assess it all, SNARF orders your email according to a simple set of alternative criteria which the final user can switch with a click. For instance, users can order emails by "number of emails sent in the last month," which can easily place friends, family and coworkers above strangers, customers and spammers. In the default setting, SNARF divides emails into three panes, with messages that include the user's name in the To or CC field in one pane, messages lacking the user's name (likely to be spam) in another pane and all email in a third pane. SNARF also uses several visual cues to indicate the importance of a contact (i.e. numbers in parentheses following names, underlining that increase in size based on volume of email from that contact) and other features as well.
MT1 is a text-to-voice tool that translates textual files (email, MS Word documents) into audio files that can be listened to on a PDA, iPod or other portable audio device. Produced by Irish company MagneticTime, MT1 replays your documents to you in "natural sounding voices" such as the soothing sampled female voice that greets visitors to the MT1 website. Text files submitted to MT1 are exported as standard .mp3 files. However, it is not a one-product-fits-all program, meaning that different versions exist to support iPods, PDAs or cell phones. Currently supporting only English language documents on Windows PCs, MT1 is available for about €34 ($40 USD) or for a free, limited-time trial.
- FavIcon from Pics
FavIcon from Pics is a free online service that converts any digital image into a Favicon (aka a Web page icon). The service is extremely easy to use, as you only need to input your selected image file URL or location on your hard disk and FavIcon from Pics immediately returns a 32x32 pixels icon version of the same. Free to use.
- Archos AV 700
The Archos AV 700 is an all-inclusive portable media device that combines the capabilities of an .mp3 player, portable photo and video playback unit, DVR (digital video recorder), audio recorder, external hard drive and PDA in one, compact handheld package. The Archos AV 700 includes a remote control unit and supports Ethernet, wi-fi and Bluetooth. The device includes also a touch-screen and comes with up to 100 GB of storage space (can hold up to 400 hours of video, or 1,000,000 pictures). The seven inch wide screen can play .avi, .wmv and .mpg videos at up to 30 frames per second. The AV 700 can also be used to record and playback directly to almost any television as well. There is also a USB port so you can connect a keyboard and use the AV 700 to browse the net, check email and even word process. The device has a built-in mic and speaker but users can easily attach a superior microphone, headphones or even a camera easily. The product retails from Amazon and other online suppliers for just under $500 USD (About €413).
PUSH!Music is an ambitious project that takes P2P file-sharing out of computers and puts it right into the wireless-enabled PDA sitting in the palm of your hand. It works like this: as PUSH!Music users come into the same physical vicinity, their PDAs (or cellphones, .mp3 players or any wi-fi-capable music device) begin talking to each other. Based on the music you have on your device, the system determines what music you might want from others' devices and you can begin swapping music. PUSH!Music also allows you to "actively recommend songs by sending (or 'pushing') music to others." While the implications of this exciting idea are staggering, music junkies need not get too excited yet, as PUSH!Music is still just an experimental project by academics at the Swedish Viktoria Institute looking to study the possibilities of the technology. The PUSH!Music site strongly stresses their desire neither to commercialize this idea nor to use it in any way that possibly violates copyright law. However, a good idea is a good idea, so look for someone to take this idea and run with it soon.
FutureRSS is a PHP script that lets you "prepublish" an RSS feed successfully to any future date. Available to all FeedForAll users, FutureRSS lets you create an entry and specify the exact date and time for syndication without the complications that arise with post-dating a feed's publication date. Only when the assigned time arrives will FutureRSS publish your selected post, whether this is hours or even months in advance.
- BBC Open News Archive
BBC News announced a breakthrough recently by opening its news archive to the public under a Creative Commons-like license. Available only to UK residents, the news archive currently houses around 80 clips of many of the top stories of the past 50 years, including the uprising in Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall and other landmark events. Users can then use this footage to create new works that build on the existing BBC material, without fear of reprisals from the British media giant. The license utilized, BBC' own Creative Archive license, is similar to the Creative Commons license, with stipulations for non-commercial, non-endorsement use, as well as for share-alike and attribution usage. Although the offerings are currently small, opening the archive is another step forward for the BBC following their move last fall to allow users to remix BBC content. Free to use.
- The Principles of Universal Design
The Center for Universal Design recently published The Principles of Universal Design. The Chinese/English on-line magazine is dedicated to increasing usability through quality user interface design. This article lays out seven simple principles that can be applied to any project to make it more usable by the public. A valuable read for software developers, web designers, engineers and even writers, the article includes several key points to keep in mind when designing communications designed for public use. Free to read.
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