Oct 02 2010

Quick Review: Additional Tools

I wanted to jump in here and give all my readers (all four of you?) a few more sites to add to your arsenal. These sites are not new to me, but instead, they are resources to add to the several that David Warlick mentions in chapter 3 of his book, Redefining Literacy 2.0.

First up is a site called Aviary.com. Aviary is an incredible set of free Web2.0 tools that include a photo editor (think Photoshop) and an audio editor (like Audacity, for example). For what most people need, Aviary is absolutely perfect. Most folks don’t need all the power and bells and whistles that Photoshop offers–they just want to reduce red-eye or remove an ex-boyfriend from a photo. Please check this one out.

Next are two sites that address the issue of royalty-free content for digital media creation. Warlick pretty much only suggested Flickr. While that’s a great site, sometimes it’s difficult to find images of high quality. Enter istockphoto.com. While most of its content is not free, there is an enormous wealth of high quality images that you can use in websites or promotional materials without having to pay royalties. (You buy “credits” to the site, and then each image ranges from 2-6 credits each.) For music, I always turn to freeplaymusic.com. Here you can search for music by “feel”, style, instrumentation, etc. Most songs also have 15, 30, and 60 second versions (not just cropped) as well. GREAT for homemade newsreels, drama productions, etc.

Finally, in the section of the chapter called “Indexed Content,” Warlick mentions BlogPulse as a way to track trends in topics. I want to give you a new one that I more or less just encountered the first time last week (I knew about it when it came out, but never used it). Google tracks all Twitter feeds that are not private, and indexes them. Last week, someone I follow tweeted something along the lines of, “praying for all the students at UT Austin.” Not knowing what had happened, I first searched USA Today–nothing. Then CNN “Breaking News.” Again, nothing. Finally, I went to Google, typed in UT Austin, then on the search results page, I clicked “More,” and then “Updates.” I was suddenly presented with a column graph showing all of the tweets that mentioned UT Austin. I saw that most of them were mentioning a shooter on campus, and with the help of the graph, I was able to trace the first tweet back to about 8:24 a.m. There’s something incredibly empowering about knowing about things before the media has a chance to spin it.

I hope these help you in your quest to enlarge your toolbox!

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