I learned about several new sites and tools this morning thanks to conversations with James Deaton and Eric Hileman.

Wordle can be used to view a tag cloud of a delicious.com user’s contributions, so you can get a quick, visual picture of the ways that person tags the web. Here’s my current Wordle delicious.com tag cloud:

Wordle tag cloud for delicious.com user wfryer

TweetDeck is an Adobe Air “application that aims to evolve existing functionality of Twitter by breaking down Twitter feeds into more manageable bite sized pieces.” The Adobe Air runtime has to be installed first for TweetDeck to work.

Zemanta is a plug-in for WordPress and other blogging platforms which suggests image, text, and other media links from other websites dynamically which relate to your current post. According to the Zeamnta FAQ:

All content that we are recommending is copyright cleared – either clearly licenced as Creative Commons or approved by stock providers.

I am a big fan of blogging with MarsEdit offline, but tools like Zemanta and Photo Dropper make the prospect of using the “live” WordPress dashboard for posting even more appealing. More info about Zemanta is available on Sarah Perez’s March 2008 post on RWW.

Writing Matters is an online portal for language arts digital curriculum, but also a website teachers can use to create and publish student work online for free. Once you register for a teacher account, your login:

…will allow you to setup online eZines for your classrooms. You will be able to manage your students’ writing and allow your students to participate in the Writing Matters writing community where they will be able to rate and comment on other students’ writing as well as browse featured writing from around the country!

The website is designed to be an interactive writing classroom. This looks great and even easier to setup, configure, and begin using as a classroom teacher than a personal blog. When students register for an account, they register with a userid and password and the REGISTRATION KEY teachers are provided after registering. An email address for students is OPTIONAL, which is great for situations where students don’t have email.

One disadvantage of the website in its current iteration appears to be that parents cannot leave comments, only registered teachers and students.

Refresh OKC is:

…a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of Internet professionals in the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area.

This group’s interest and focus may be a bit more technical than normal for me but this sounds like an interesting group to check out locally. Their website indicates “If you are passionate about design, technology and the web, this group is for you.” That sounds a lot like me. Refresh OKC meets the 3rd Tuesday of each month at the downtown OKC library.

TiddlyWiki is “a reusable non-linear personal web notebook” which sounds intriguing. It:

..is a single html file which has all the characteristics of a wiki – including all of the content, the functionality (including editing, saving, tagging and searching) and the style sheet. Because it’s a single file, it’s very portable – you can email it, put it on a web server or share it via a USB stick.

What are web 2.0 designers going to think of next? Perhaps a stick of gum that includes all the audio and video files contained in the Library of Congress, able to play on-demand in your brain immediately as you start to chew it? Amazing.

SmugMug is an online photo sharing website similar to Flickr but designed more for professional, commercial photographers who are or want to sell their photos online. According to the website:

We dream of an independent company devoted to nothing but your priceless photos.

A company that backs up your photos to three data centers across the U.S.

A profitable, debt-free company.

That earns your fanatical loyalty.

We’re living that dream.

I’m personally addicted to Flickr Pro, but I’ll certainly point out SmugMug to others in the future who many be more interested in monetizing their web-published photos than I am currently.

Last of all, a gaming tip. (Like I have disposable time at this point for more gaming…..) Spore is a very popular game available from Electronic Arts on both the Windows and Macintosh platforms which sounds like it’s worth checking out. Players design a creature in the “cell phase” and take it through five stages of evolution. In the “creature” phase your own creation interacts with others, determining if they are “friend or food.” In the “tribal phase” you use new tools to befriend or attack neighbors. The “civilization phase” invites players to “form alliances, build cities and unite the planet.” Lastly in “space phase” you “set off from your planet to explore and colonize the galaxy.” The tagline for Spore is:

How will you create the universe?

Spore: How will you create the universe?

Well now. Those adventurous prospects make learning the multiplication tables or reviewing for a spelling test seem just a little dull as learning activities this week, don’t they?! 😉

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