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Do you like Opera?

As a devoted Mac user, I just accepted the Safari web browser that is standard and happily browsed the internet with this.

Safari

Safari cc licensed and shared by aditza 121

There was much I loved about the user interface, including the graphic interface where sites can be bookmarked in topsites and you can click on them to be taken to the website. I loved the visual history you can flick through. However, I was stuck in Mac-land with my rosy Mac glasses and didn’t venture beyond this space. I even secretly enjoyed the Mac vs PC ads and couldn’t help but share 15 of them in the clip that follows.

I relished the Mac comeback since the introduction of the  iMac G3 so many years ago (1998). I loved calling them the jellymacs at the time because of the translucent look and the many bright colours you can choose from…

iMac G3

iMac G3 cc licensed and shared by Tiziano Gaviglia

Here is the video clip when the iMac was first introduced by Steve Jobs

Yes! I definitely recall the excitement back then and have never looked back.

Back to browsers. As I said I didn’t question the use of Safari. That is until this year…

Once I started my studies this year, I realised Safari had limitations so I downloaded and installed Firefox. I was pleasantly surprised that it appeared faster and more stable. I appreciate the tabs across the top and find navigation easy with add-ons enhancing Firefox. For instance Zotero is a great enhancement and time saver with citations and reference lists. Again I was sold.

Firefox 3

Fifefox 3 cc licensed and shared by Hooverdust

But then I found out about Google Chrome…. so the urge for experimentation began yet again. This time the visual appeal was instant. I was excited about the address bar doubling up as a search bar. More time saving features to love (although, this is possible with Firefox I have since discovered). As another member in our household has an iPad, chrome as a browser seemed to imitate the iPad app features and initially this seemed exciting. Although, I do concede now that maybe it is a bit too gimicky for me….

Logo Google Chrome

Logo Google Chrome cc licensed and shared by Dekuwa

Google Chrome has proven a very effective web browser for my parents who have a limited background in computer use. Setting it up for them with their favourite sites bookmarked has enabled them to participate very easily. I definitely see this as an advantage for them.

After my initial experimentation with Google Chrome, I started wanting to add more search engines as I wanted choice and found Google chrome restrictive in this way. Maybe the link to Google as a corporate entity contributes to this restriction due to the desire to dominate the market. I went back to Firefox add-ons and tested the ability to add extra search engines and realised it was a great deal easier than chrome. Hence my choice in searching is enhanced… back to Firefox I went!

That is until I started hearing Opera. Opera here, a little bit of ‘Cosi fan Tutti’, ‘Madama Butterfly’ and maybe a little ‘Bliss’ by Brett Dean… but wait there is another browser…

Where the magic happens... ;-)

Where the magic happens...;-) cc licensed and shared by andyket

Voila Opera is installed.

I couldn’t help but spend some some time this weekend playing around with the Opera web browser and setting it up. This is definitely the browser for me providing the greatest flexibility in browsing not to mention speed (we all love our information to arrive as quick as possible after all). I am still experimenting with the various Opera add-ons  and the extensions including the various widgets I have already installed. Already, I found many features I love. As a browser web accessibility has been paid the best attention to, of all the browsers I have experimented with and this is part of the reason I love it so much. I also love the Opera Portal and how easy it is to place my RSS feeds in one spot where I can visit with a click from my Speed dial which is similar to topsites from Safari but better. I really need to have a good look at the browser tips to really get a feel for the capabilities when time permits.

It is worth having a test of the different browsers and finding what works for you. It can be a very individual preference after all.

Following is a video about Opera Software the history. The final video is the browser showdown. Who wins?

Even though, I am meant to be focused on my next assignment, writing three critical reviews, there is nothing like a little diversion to clear the mind. Now to put on some Opera and back to my study…

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Information is unstoppable!

‘The end of the library’ is a catchcry that many studying information studies have had to endure in one form or another over the past five to ten years or so, maybe even longer. Some of the following headlines and related stories point to the continuance of this threat and are an indication that the threat to information provision and libraries is far from over. Clearly, as the articles indicate, this is not specific to Australia but something that is happening in other countries including the United States and the UK.

Libraries fear funding cuts

Libraries fire up over funding cuts

Maroondah Library services cut as funding goes

Councils united in fight against library funding cuts

Funding cuts closing book on all 62 branches in Queens Library

Cuts threaten survival of Michigan Libraries

Michigan Library Community suffers ‘a perfect storm of funding cuts’

Library closure threats spark campaigns across England

In times of economic downturn, it appears that information provision is an easy target. How easy is it for an individual to be complacent within the sphere of the web and accept without question that the internet will provide the information sources without bias and in a timely manner. The corporate imperatives and controls are easily overlooked (I only need to draw your attention to Google as a corporate entity and its expanding control of the cybersphere as an example). Our trust in the altruism of information provision is not wavered, not even for a moment when we are confronted with concepts of privacy invasion, and if it is, we are somewhat apathetic or more realistically paralysed in our attempts to protest. What can we do? Can we refuse to participate? Is this possible? And if it is, then what class in society do we then occupy as a citizen in the information Age that we now reside in?

Choosing to take on the study of Master of Information Studies has been something that I absolutely love and relish. My learning has been immense and it appears this journey is occurring at the right time in consideration of my passions and skills. Right now, my love of all things audiovisual, coupled with my desire and urgency to document all things audiovisual so that we can share this heritage from the past,  now and in the future has been ignited further with my studies. My passion for democratic access to information has been reinforced and my belief in freedom of expression has been reinforced with my belief in participatory culture that is evident in the world of Web 2.o. Beyond this, I believe in a free web, free of controls and surveillance and one that can encapsulate human rights as elaborated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These ideals, I have discovered are encapsulated in the ideals of Tim Berner’s Lee and his vision of the World Wide Web. See the following clips for some inspiration.

What is my point in this post, I ask myself (beyond passion!)… I suppose what I am trying to emphasise is that the world of information is not dying. It is part of our DNA (in fact our DNA is an example of information, Gleick (2011.) as it encodes and shapes who we as individuals and as a society are) We are information and the way we relate is information. No matter how we/they try to control, block or divert the information and the sources of information provision, information will find a way to flood and flow. It is not something we can control, divert or suppress…. Even with funding cuts!

Gleick, J, (May, 17 2011, 11am), Mornings with Margaret Throsby, ABC Classic fm accessed from http://www.abc.net.au/classic/throsby/stories/s3218973.htm

 

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Filter bubbles and how to sidetrack them…sort of…

Bubble

Bubble cc licensed and shared by basquiat (Jens Mayer)

I keep coming back to the concept of the ‘filter bubble’ or Web 3.0/semantic web. There is no doubt that finding ways to access data and information smarter is a goal of most. We all love efficiency. Furthermore, having an ability to sort the minefield of thought/information and knowledge in cyberspace, in an effort to access the information you need as quickly as possible, is something to strive for. The following youtube clip stresses aspects about the positive elements of the semantic web.

However, as Eli Pariser’s Ted talk ‘beware of filter bubbles’  found in my post More on filter bubbles, highlights, the algorithms that have been developed or are being developed are focused too closely on matching information to what has been mapped based on the history of prior search and click activity. This is clearly where the web starts to narrow over time and you end up being less exposed to wider viewpoints, or diversity of information. This is exactly what I do not want. It clearly takes power and choice away from the individual in making broader and better informed decisions about information. I tend to agree with Pariser in urging the developers, including Google, to extend the algorithms used to account for a diversity of information. Representing many and contrasting viewpoints in an effort to counter this narrowing effect of the individual ‘filter bubble’ is hardly something one can argue against.

I am always interested in alternatives in search strategies as a way to sidestep the ‘filter bubble’. After all, I still believe humans are more powerful than the machine. The following youtube clip is widely popular with almost 1.5 million hits by the time I have embedded it here. It goes part way to indicating the strength of tagging as a process of sorting the data on the net.

In my search effort to discover how to sidestep the bubble, I have been traipsing the cybersphere and trying to find out as much as possible. I found a post on heyjude, (as I like to follow Judy) titled  Google+ plus the deeper web quite beneficial. This led me to start investigating further as it prompted the formation of a question in my mind about alternatives in search on the net. I discovered the search engine Duck Duck Go and found their Privacy policy beneficial as they don’t track your clicks. A further search resulted in the following List of Search Engines providing a comprehensive list of search engines and a brief description of each. I had a click on a few, and I do concede it could feel a bit like overload but,  it is worth a try. Interestingly, Duck Duck Go is missing from this list which begs the question what other search engine is missing?

The following wikipedia article, Web Search Engine provides another comprehensive list including information on whether the search engine is currently active. For people using Firefox as their web browser, you can go to the search addons site here and peruse over 2000 search engines that can be added to your search tool facility. When you need to search the added search engines are accessed via a pop down menu where you type in the search in the top right hand of the browser.

I have found it more difficult to add extra search engines to Chrome and would love to find out how to do this best.

 

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How Google Search Works

 

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Google+

Google has finally launched its social networking rival according to The Age with the article Google launches Facebook rival ‘Google+’ Judging by the activity in cyberspace, people have taken notice and interest. Funnily, when I saw the ‘Google+’ symbol appearing next to everything that comes up in a google search, at the bottom of youtube clips and elsewhere, I initially assumed it was just a ‘like’ tag that would link up to gmail or some other google service. The semantic web is becoming clearer by the moment as the demo highlights below with the ‘Sparks’ function. This is further elaborated in this Blogpost by Techcruch.

Here is the Demo

Some other articles of interest are Will the Google+ Project out Social Facebook by Laurrie Sullivan in Media Post News.

Somehow the launch has overshadowed the news that MySpace is about to be sold by Chris Crum in WebProNews.

However, I think Google may just have found its mojo to compete with the social networking sites afterall. They even make Sparks sound exciting as the following clip indicates.

However, I am still somewhat wary of the concept of the semantic web and still feel it has limitations. The following youtube clip sums up some of my sentiments on this particular issue.

 

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Why can’t I just Google?

Permission sought and granted by Learning and Research Services Manager Library | La Trobe University | Bundoora, 3086 for the use of the video “Why can’t I just Google”

 

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