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Late February round up of quick links, software and half-formed responses.

The limited nature of my engagement with Delicious is based on the idea that if I particularly like a website or want to keep a record of someone's blog post I'll note it on my own blog and add a little comment to remind myself what was so great about it in the first place. Fortunately it's often self-evident what's so great about the sites, as will hopefully be the case with the links below...

When it comes to websites which capture the work of single person, ranging from academic to journalist to general polymath I'm particularly enamoured by Aleks Krotoski's. She's recently finished her 365 Flickr project to illustrate the opening three paragraphs of George Orwell's 1984, some 369 words. It took a while to watch the slideshow, but if you've time look through some of images it's very rewarding.

This morning I finally made time to read Jennifer Jones's post on writing tools, which these here thoughts build upon.

Scrivener has the potential to act as a traditional word processor, yet most of the comments I've read and watched compare it to old skool typewriters and extol its virtues as a much better fit for how we actually compile and write papers and other pieces of text. (See also Prezi and slideshows.) For longer documents the ease of use by which sections can be manipulated, moved and otherwise messed about with is impressive. I'm planning to give it a go by importing my PhD proposal, then waiting until I next have to write something of any length.

Jennifer's post also links to her passionate piece on the joys of the Kindle. Its ability to let you carry so much around, comment on papers and PDFs, import and export documents is very appealing. Something to think about when the need arises and the wallet allows.

Mendeley gets another mention... something I should really get into, but I know all that!

It's so valuable to have these software and hardware resources to draw on, yet even more so to be able to share the thoughts of others in similar situations. I'm sure it was ever thus in one form or another, but the joys of social media both expand that community and bring it closer together.

On a similar theme is Ana Adi's post on screen captures, based on web tools. There's such a variety of options available to consumers these days that we're truly spoiled for choice. This feels like it could be a golden age for technology and social media (before net neutrality comes under serious threat, again), or it could be just the beginning.

Finally, a posting on my blog of a document which David McGillivray brought to my attention by adding it to his. 

The Online Learning Task Force's Collaborate to compete is a call to arms for those keen to work between institutions within higher education. (The OLTF is HEFCE funded, though its recommendations are widely applicable.) I've commented on David's post, but in short I think there's much to be commended in their work from my perspective: meaning that I can see how their ideas would apply to me and current projects. I think a lot of what they've recommended is skewed towards what university executives should be doing to move their institutions towards a more collaborative future, ignoring to some extent the opportunities already open to academics to push things on themselves.

Who's to say we won't reach a time when fine intentions from above are met halfway by several years of experimentation and good practice from the coalface. Collaboration between institutions means good communication between universities; we can only hope that there's a comparable sharing of ideas within them as well.

The Event Expo: Glasgow, 9 February 2011

Travelogue 16: 'away and home 21.02.03'