Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Diigo Update

I've been using Diigo for nearly a week.

It's been interesting so far if a bit of a mind meltdown just for the sheer amount of reading one COULD do if you really got into this application!

All over, I've found it okay so far. It does take a lot of getting used to the interface for a very slow only basically web savvy lay-person like me. Just explaining Diigo to people with basic computer skills is actually quite difficult. You do have to pick your crowd to market the idea. Eyes glaze over and the concept either scares people or they simply don't quite understand what you mean.

There has "always" been for Social Bookmarking and I think it's been pretty much the "Google" of its time that site. I never got into at all! I simply couldn't quite make head or tail of it and yet now I reckon it's probably a much simpler type of social networking and bookmarking application than Diigo - by far. Go figure! I picked Complex to start learning from huh? That'd be me *smirk*

Diigo does have some quite cute features though. The ability to make public or private sticky notes and whack them onto a webpage, much like you would in a text book you are studying, is quite clever. It is a bit freaky to come across a webpage of a friend and find their comments stuck all over it though; that could take some getting used to. It is nice to have the exchange of ideas and the interaction of others though even so. I do wonder if the wars of the future will be started over a virulent disagreement in virtual sticky notes now though ;)

The issue of "Private" as opposed to "Public" is still a little muddy for me using this. I am careful now to check that any messages sent to friends are appropriately set at the privacy level required for the content. I'm also still getting my head around making some websites I visit private due to the fact that they're a login for a personal webpage etc. Such as logging into Blogger here to write this blog post. I guess I'll figure that all out in due course. They will have to make the public/private aspect a whole lot clearer though I think. At present it's confusing and you have to already know in advance to check the privacy settings, otherwise you could make a very embarrassing faux pas.

My next goal with Diigo is to begin ascribing the articles, blogs and links I have accumulated into defined "Lists". This is very similar to assigning specific subject folders in your Bookmarks or Favorites. I imagine this will be a bit time consuming as I do want to attempt to keep the lists relatively uncluttered and more overarching themes rather than have too many precise headings. I hope that is possible anyway. Given the scope and range of the material I have in Diigo, it'll be interesting to see if I do actually have common themes for topics.

Tagging is new for me. Those who read my blog here know I am a "hopeless" Tagger of blog posts. The reason for this is that I could come up with so many key words for an article as to render the tag list an exercise in repetition of the actual content of the blog! My Kingdom for an Auto-tagger! Diigo does actually attempt to do this, by having some suggested tag titles you can simply click into the tag window. It does make it a bit easier but they're not nearly comprehensive enough for me yet! Again - my propensity for bogging down with too much detail rears its ugly head.

The Friends Online function is a bit dodgy for now. A green dot is the only indicator that a friend is online at any given time. The rest of the time the dot shows a nice boring grey! :) That's okay but I guess applications like GTalk and Facebook have spoiled me somewhat in that I want to choose to IM someone once I know they are online. It seems a bit...well... old fashioned now, not to be able to IM someone when they're showing up as being available to chat to! It's a bit like not being able to say hello to your friends down the street even if you can see them.

I still have to get my head around the incredible amount of reading that has come my way just from having a couple of people aka "Friends" connected to my Diigo. You can "follow" the bookmarks of any of the friends you have or groups you've joined. I've joined just one group so far. This means your Diigo "dashboard" can be updated with a significant amount of very interesting material you'd never have seen otherwise - well maybe have never seen perhaps. I have approximately 200 bookmarks in my Diigo. That may not be as impressive as some I should think but I do have to ask myself "Do I NEED this much information?" I am insatiable when it comes to learning new things but I'm seriously questioning if this could all just get too confusing as to which stuff deserves my attention and which doesn't.

As it is I have three or four paper books to read - one of which I am half way through - approximately 50 Blogs in my Bloglines, a large number of e-comics, e-books and about 60 "short-shorts" by Bruce Holland Rogers on my computer to catch up with and, now, a rapidly growing number of interesting blogs, articles and bookmarks to peruse in Diigo. My reading opportunities have exploded in recent months!

David Allen, when asked about the modern obsession with "Information Overload" is quoted as saying:

You don’t manage information overload – otherwise you’d walk into a library and die, or the first time you connect to the web, or even opened a phone book, you’d blow up;

He's of the opinion that Information Overload is simply a matter of making decisions about what we want to focus on. What we want to focus on is simply a matter of what context we're currently in. Essentially, context is a combination of Time, Location and People and Priority Needs. The key is to do that which is obvious to do given these indicators. Therefore, if I'm in Diigo, I need to have some way of very quickly deciding what is worth reading, commenting on, annotating, slapping a virtual sticky note onto or ditching as a "waste" of my time. THAT is what's going to take some getting used to - that solid, decisive action'ing of the stuff coming at me each morning when I open up my Diigo Dashboard.

Getting through this burgeoning virtual reading pile is weighing on my mind. I don't like things weighing on my mind. It makes no sense to feel guilty about stuff I DON'T HAVE TO DO. I might want to do it...very much... but to feel guilty for not doing it takes away the pleasure and the freedom of the choice and the desire. Diigo could very easily become more obligation than a pleasurable indulgence for infotainment.

I'll definitely continue to learn how to use Diigo effectively though despite this real challenge to keep things in perspective. I can see enormous potential for schools, universities and Adult Learning Centres in the use of this technology. The ability for students to share information and collaborate on their learning through conversation and exchange of the vast resource that is the web is promising and exciting to say the least. Knowing how and why to use this social bookmarking technology is not a futile exercise for geeky tech-fashionista's but a cutting edge means for keeping up with the pace of virtual change in our lives. It's another tool. Something to think with, learn with, do stuff with, create with. That's ALL it is and ergo it needs to be used respectfully and creatively and skillfully and the last bit only comes with repetition and practice of course!

Once I know how to use Diigo effectively, there is the possibility I could teach others how to use it here in my corner of the world. And therein lies Diigo's biggest weakness of all actually...that for the ordinary folk of my town, many will need to be shown how to use it rather than being able to "just use it" straight out of the box so to speak.

Diigo has some cool features for sure and it's kind of fun to use if you really WANT to learn how to use it. It is however, cluttered, a bit scary for the web technology illiterate and some of its privacy functions are confusing and uncertain. So a matter of "Keep on keeping on", just in case its worth it. I believe that might be possible at the moment! :)

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