New Ways of Searching & Making Connections

I came across Infomous recently while reading my Diigo in Education group email and the idea that these two tools really make my search for new ideas and content very easy pressed me to write this post.  I’ve been a Diigo-vangelist for years (well, since I discovered the social bookmarking tool in March of 2008), and the tool has just gotten better. On the other hand, I just came across Infomous this morning (Friday December 21, 2012), but I see the tool as very powerful as well. The two tools bring content to me in very different ways, and those differences are enough to make both tools worth using.

I use Diigo in a variety of ways. I bookmark sites that I use in my work and that interest me. It is a good social bookmarking tool, but honestly there are a couple that have surpassed Diigo in that one aspect (Google Bookmarks if you are a Google user like me, or Only Wire if you like to share your bookmarks to a wide audience). What Diigo does that makes them SO POWERFUL is deliberate sharing and commenting. I subscribe to multiple public groups, including (Diigo in Education, Mobile Learning, & Math Links), that bring me targeted items to my inbox every morning. It forces me to stay current in areas that interest me, and which influence the work I do on a daily basis. I don’t have to spend nearly as much time looking for new tools or information and can use my time more efficiently.

I, also, use private groups to share research and articles with colleagues, which isn’t all that radical. What sets  this apart for me is the ability to highlight and comment within shared articles. This develops opportunity to not only share information, but process the information together, right inside the article.

diigo research

There are limitations to the commenting and highlighting features that do get in the way sometimes. Specifically that you can’t highlight and comment on PDF items online, but the ability to work and share interactions about content far outway the limitations.

I don’t find myself as taken by new products now as much as 3-4 years ago, simply because they tend to be micro-improvements or changes to current tools that have other features that I like (i.e. Diigo vs. Google Bookmarks). However, I think Infomous is a fresh take on search/aggregation tools. I share content with colleagues and customers on a regular basis and appreciate the way Infomous makes connections between stories based on relationships. I, also, just like the interface:

infomous learning 2

 

I work with mind maps to help organize information and show how different topics are related all of the time, and appreciate how Infomous maps help identify relationships between topics, and content that I would not necessarily been aware of. Not all of the information is always relevant, but more often than not, I find connections between topics that make me think and add something that I didn’t get from my initial look at the topic.

For instance, I’ve been working in the field of blended learning extensively over the past 5 years. I have been aware that there is little difference in learning outcomes between face to face and online learning, but was not as aware of the research that quantified the increase in learner satisfaction in the online setting. The way Infomous tied different characteristics of blended learning together just helped visualize the content. It works for the way I think.

That last point is critical for me with online tools. It’s not that there are good or bad tools out there, but that there are tools that work the way I think and process information, and that is the way I choose online tools.

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