I presented some thoughts I had on Ping.fm, netvibes, and friendfeed at a technology forum for libraries last week. (as a side note: I used bubbl.us for a diagram to show the differences between services and today I discovered this really useful post at the Learning Librarian on bubbl.us.) Here are my presentation notes:
Ping is not really a great collaboration tool, but I thought I would include it in the presentation because it is about reaching multiple communities simultaneously.
Essentially, Ping.fm broadcasts status updates and shared links to multiple microblogging accounts. Users can do notes/photos on Facebook but, as the diagram suggests, it is only one-way communication; you can’t see friends’ posts! If you just want to engage communities for updates, this will help you reach all of them (as long as you have an account at each individual tool).
Application: this is useful to anyone who feels like they want to update multiple communities simultaneously telling them about new services etc., so lets say you have followers at twitter, facebook, linkedIn, hi5, myspace, etc and you don’t want to update just one community about a new service the library is providing, you can use ping.fm to update them all.
Netvibes is more of a homepage with a lot of widgets similar to iGoogle. It just looks a lot cooler. The nice thing about netvibes, also, is the ability to share a public set of widgets.
Application: this can be a new kind of subject page: new web results in your topic: you then share the page with your constituents. You can import a feed from a subscription database and allow access to the content to anyone at your campus through their campus id and password (so you could have a feed of anything at Academic Search Premiere, for example, that you generated with a search on your specific subject or topic). How is this any different from just sharing the from GoogleReader to other Google users? well this is set up so you don’t have to click share every article–it would be automatically. Also, of course anyone of your users could grab the RSS feed and put it into their individual reader but you see, you have already saved them time by doing it.
Similarly, you could have a widget with podcasts, flickr photos, and youtube videos that have your search terms in them and they are updated regularly.
Many librarians have heard of FF and it is becoming more and more popular. Essentially it allows you to import up to about 60 different software status updates from friends or colleagues that you want to keep track of. The community is more limited but you would be surprised how many librarians are there.
Application: this is a little tougher to sell for librarianship; I would say its main usefulness would be if you want to friend other librarians in your field who have similar interests and just find out what kinds of things they are sharing in your subject.