Web 2 0 For Academic Researchers


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Web 2 0 For Academic Researchers

  1. 1. Web 2.0 For Academic Researchers A brief guide by Gavin D. J. Harper www.gavindjharper.co.uk Beyond The Ivory Tower... 1.0 PC’s have now moved into shiny black cases and es- 2.0 caped the ivory tower. Web 2.0 changes the rela- tionship between consumers and producers of infor- mation—and has the potential to help you get your work much more widely read and communicate with different and enlarged audiences. This guide aims to show you how you can use “Web 2.0” to promote your research and make the most of your outputs. Web 2.0 Explained....Visually http://blogs.voices.com/thebiz/web1vsweb2.png Be Social! The web is now full of social networks that cater to every branch of society; within them the full diversity of the human condition and interests thereof are captured in virtual com- munities that transcend the ether to link like- minded folk from Aalbourg to Zanzibar! Social networks can also be a great forum to promote you research; many allow you to post content items such as photos or videos; and link to other documents on the web; for example, documents that you host on Scribd, or Slideshows that you host on Slideshare. The chances are you will have friends on these networks that share your research interests. Academia.edu is a social network geared up specifically to- wards researchers and people working in universities. It al- lows you to upload your papers and get involved with groups of people working in your research area.
  2. 2. Share Your Slides! If you are routinely creating presentations for lectures, conferences, seminars e.t.c. Then why not consider sharing content using an online presentation-sharing tool. Slideshare (www.slideshare.net) and Slideboom (www.slideboom.com) are two sites that allow you to upload content that you have produced in Microsoft Powerpoint. This is a useful backup in the event that your memory stick dies when you go to deliver the presentation! Also, you can then grab a snippet of code that Slideshare generates, and embed the presentation into a webpage. You can also easily share presentations with people on your social networks. Vs. Top Tip! • Slideboom lets you keep your custom animations. If you are struggling with graphics or • Slideboom allows you to play animated *.gif’s within your presentation. • Slideboom will not deal with flash animations at all, whereas Slideshare embedded fonts in your presenta- converts them into static pictures. tion, convert the file to a *.pdf first, • However, Slideboom only supports files up to 30mb. and upload this to the converter! Share Your Pictures! Using: / If you generate lots of images in the course of your research, then a really great way to share them is with a photo sharing service such as Flickr / Picasa. These services allow you to bulk upload your photos and then organise them into groups and sets. This can be really use- ful, as it provides somewhere where you can store you pic- tures that can be accessed from home or university com- puters. It also provides a measure of resilience in the event that your PC hard drive fails. You can permit people the share your images for example, by embedding them in their blogs. This is a useful way to drive traffic to your content; and hopefully through exploring your pictures—they will want to learn more about you; read your profile and then discover more about your research. Share Your Documents Anyone in the world of academia is routinely creat- ing documents—whether that be course notes, pa- pers, or working reports. Scribd is an online service that you can use to share such documents. You up- load your files, and Scribd converts them to it’s own proprietary format “iPaper”, which is easy to view on any browser that has the “Flash” plugin installed; without needing to load up an external application such as Adobe Acrobat. With Scribd; you can share documents by distributing the link to your document; allowing you to post to social networks and sites such as Twitter; however, if you host your own website; you can also “embed” documents within the page; Scribd generates a snippet of HTML code for you, that you can grab and paste into your site. You can specify the dimensions of this box to fit in with your site layout. Within this box, your document can be previewed, with the option to click on it, and “pop it out” in its own window.
  3. 3. Publish It Yourself! If you’ve got to produce a short run of documents; say for a brochure for a course, or a hand-out or course book; then Lulu could very well be the an- swer to your prayers. Banish visions of badly photocopied sloppily pre- sented reports amateurishly bound with tacky plas- tic comb binders and say hello to professionally per- fect bound reports in hardback or softback! Lulu is what is known as a print on demand pub- lisher. The traditional publishing model is that an author writes a book for a low percentage of the revenue, whilst the publisher takes on distribution and marketing activities. Lulu turns the publishing industry model on its head, by putting the content creator in control. Lulu have very advanced flexible printing machines that are able to produce short runs or even single books very cost effectively. It works thus; you up- load your document to the Lulu server in the form of a *.pdf with a cover image, and tell Lulu what quality paper you want to print on, what size of book you want to publish, the type of binding and whether you want to print in black and white or colour. Lulu wil then give you a base price for pro- ducing this type of publication. You can then buy at this price, sell your work at this price, or choose to make a profit over and above and market your book on the Lulu site. You can also add an ISBN and market your book more widely through conventional distribution channels and booksellers such as Amazon.com. Lulu provides a number of free features to help you get your book published including an online cover designer. The quality of the printed documents that Lulu pro- duce is second to none; however, it should be re- membered, that unlike working with a professional publisher—Lulu does not copyedit, proofread or layout your work—so ultimately the quality of the output is highly dependent on your own DTP skills and the effort you put into producing what you up- load to the Lulu server. Once uploaded to Lulu, Lulu also gives you the facil- ity to produce a “Widget” that can be embedded in your website to market your book!
  4. 4. Learn to use C.M.S! C.M.S. Is short for content management system; these are little programs which sit on your webserver that manage your website content for you. Conventional web page programming involved producing a set of static pages, which are stored as files on your host server. Each file would contain information about the styles used in the content, and would contain links which manually pointed to different pages. With content management systems, this is completely different—all of your content is stored in a database; and the content management system does the job of managing your content, the design of your site, the structure of your site. As many of these content management systems have been developed by the Open Source community, the amazing thing is that you can get functionality today for free, that only five years ago major blue chip compa- nies would have paid millions to custom developers for! www.joomla.org, www.drupal , www.wordpress. Administrating a CMS Rather than having to faff with creating web pages manually, or coding them; with a content management, changing the con- tent of your site is as easy as logging into a system using a user name and password (If you are using Joomla this will be www.yourwebsiteaddress.com/administrator) and using the ‘Article Manager’ to edit existing documents or ‘Add New Ar- ticle’ to append content to the site. Extensions The great thing when using a content man- agement system is that you can get ‘extensions’. These are little blocks of code, which can be ‘added’ to your site. Usually this is as simple as uploading an *.zip file within your site—no more complicated than uploading an attachment to an email. These little blocks of code can do really clever things, for example - one commonly used widget will place a little block of na- tional flags where you choose on your web- site. Someone visiting your site from an- other country can now click one of these flags, and have the content of your site sent No complicated HTML code; the interface is as simple as using to Google, translated, and then pasted back Microsoft Word with an interface that should prove friendly onto the page automatically! to anyone familiar with office applications. Other functions include: • Twitter Feeds • Embedding Different Media Types • Producing Special Visual Effects Go to: extensions.joomla.org/
  5. 5. Just about anything from a mobile phone with video output upwards can be used to make web video. Video is a great way to communicate your Not just for s research to a wider audience; online on-demand web-based video is fast become the method of choice for some demographics, such as the young and web aware, to consume video content. Twitter is what is known as a Windows XP and Vista both contain “Windows Movie Maker” a simple, microblogging service, which yet capable video editor; which allows you to stream together different condenses the format of the clips by importing them into the program; dragging and dropping them written word down to a 140 onto a storyboard; clipping the beginning and end of the clip - to cut out character snippet. that first few seconds of setting up, and finishing at the end and then ar- ranging the clips on a timeline to ensure they sync up. You can then ex- You may find it soul destroying port the video in a range of formats—including suitable for YouTube. having to summarise your Movie maker also provides a range of different transitions and effects that 100,000 word thesis in a 140 can be applied to the video to give it a professional look - for example character thought-bubble; but fades between scenes e.t.c. it makes content rapidly read- YouTube allows uploaders to ‘tag’ keywords to videos to make them eas- able, allowing you to sift ily discoverable, and also has a ratings and feedback system. through thoughts which are and aren’t interesting to you rapidly. You can also embed links to other content - how- ever, in the interests of con- serving space, it is probably best to use a redirection ser- vice such as tinyurl.com or bit.ly to keep the number of characters used down. Once you have established your Twitter feed; you can use a range of services to “automate” your feed; taking data from other sites you sub- scribe to and posting it on Just about anything from a video mobile upwards can be used to make web Twitter in shortened form. video. Windows XP and Vista both contain “Windows Movie Maker” a simple, yet capable video editor. You can also “follow” people that you find interesting, add- ing them to your twitter feed, RSS Feeds - Keeping You Informed and be “followed” by people who are interested in what In the words of IBM “RDF Site Summary (RSS) files, based on XML, provide you are up to! an open method of syndicating and aggregating Web content. Using RSS files, you can create a data feed that supplies headlines, links, and article summaries Arguably one of Twitter’s most from your Web site. These files describe a channel of information that can in- famous UK denizens is Stephen clude a logo, a site link, an input box, and multiple "news items." Other sites can Fry who has over 1,000,000 incorporate your information into their pages automatically. You can also use followers. RSS feeds from other sites to provide your site with current news headlines.” In plain English, RSS is like a customised ‘news ticker’ which takes informa- tion that you are interested in, and routes it to you in the form of a “feed” which is constantly updated with news that you have filtered for its interestingness.