A few useful tools

Now that I’ve very firmly demobilised following my sojourn to Afghanistan I’ve been doing some thinking about where to take this blog. It ended up not really having a theme as such, just some waffle about things that took my fancy. I’m not sure that I can sustain something that has a single theme, so I’m going to try to post and see how it goes.

As a gentle warm up it might be useful to think about some tools that I’ve been playing with lately. Some of them useful for this sort of thing, some less so.

The first to talk about is a reasonably recent service; Storify. This is a curation service, allowing the user to draw together material from a range of sources and put together a coherent narrative. It takes material from a range of different services, Twitter, Youtube and Flickr for example but also allows individual URLs to be drawn in. It then presents the story either on the Storify site or in an embedded format on services such as WordPress. Storify is a really powerful tool, but it has one big weakness as a relatively casual user. It assumes that one is accessing it through a browser. There is no mobile app, and at present few of the other useful apps easily direct material to the service.

The main workhorse is Google Reader, what has become the dominant RSS service both user facing and as an underlying engine for other services. I consume a lot of news and RSS is the way to do that quickly and easily. It’s reasonably simple to send links to individual articles either from the Reader interface or other services that use it. Recent changes have reduced it’s usefulness, trying to lock the user into the Google+ empire, but it still serves a useful purpose.

Moving on to Evernote, the ubiquitous capture tool. Essentially a service that allows the user to send links, text, images and a host of other data to, that then becomes searchable. It’s useful for capturing ideas, and supporting information. This one has a range of different ways to sort and manage the material so suits many different ways of thinking.

Those are the main tools, others would be Dropbox for online file storage, Flickr for imagery and inevitably Twitter to keep track of ongoing discussion.

All in all it’s just a question of exploring the tools available and working out what works for the individual.

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