From my first Open Diary entry to this post I have been living the Web 2.0 explosion with increasing interest and participation. Some weeks ago I changed the look of this blog taking advantage of Blogger layouts and some Ajax applications from Google. I am not any expert so I was delighted to include the video, map, and search tools that you can see here. Even more, subscribing my blog to FeedBurner made me realise how much this blog could become more part of "the web" than what I originally intended. This therapeutic exercise of writing that started for the sake of doing it (and having some "practice" for the thesis that I had to write at the time) have become a point of contact with a virtual community. It is then time to recapitulate some of the steps that I have followed...
After discovering that writing in the web can actually put you in contact with strangers I wanted to see the limits of this interaction and filled some profiles in dating sites. The frustration for not being able to actually contact other people in pay sites like Match took me to places like Plenty of fish, Person or OkCupid. This last one actually has surpassed my expectations from a dating site... which does not mean that it makes more easy to get a real life date! You still have to learn your lessons.
But the internet not only helps you to connect with others, it connects you with your life! Are you one who writes every reminder in a pace of paper that joins the bunch of others on your desk? Are you addicted to stickers? Is your agenda and address book cluttered with annotations? Do you have 567 bookmarks in your home computer (not to say the ones at work)? Do you always synchronize what you have in your computer at home with the one in your office?
Well, I could continue describing one or other aspect of my own life that has been impacted by internet. With pages like iGoogle (a kind of dashboard with all kind of useful widgets) I found that in one page and wherever there is access to internet I had my favourite RSS feeds, conversion tools, calendar, email, weather reports, etc. at hand. Then, one after the other I started using specific web tools.
I needed to keep notes of whatever I was finding while browsing internet for a particular subject. The old way of saving bookmarks was not useful. I always ended with a bunch of links, many without a clear context to tell me why I saved them in the first place when revisited later. With Google Notebook I found that I could save, organize and select the important information at the same time that I was finding it (enhanced by the add-on for the Firefox browser). Even more, if I still valued a website as to give it a bookmark I found that social bookmarking sites like Delicious could just make the trick. The trick of not only keeping bookmarks but also to organize them by labels (tags) and have them accessible from any computer connected to the web.
Word processor and Spreadsheet (former Writely now Google Documents), Photo album (Flickr for example), online Calendar and Feeds reader (e.g. Google again) are all web tools that, as I mentioned before, not only have made collaboration and exchange with others (either for work or for entertainment) a simple routine in my life but also have saved it to be drowned in this ocean of information... where of course I have decided to swim.
I use many other web tools (OK I am going to mention Remember the Milk which has cured my addiction to sticky notes), I do not know about many more and there are others in development... for sure. But let me say some final words about another "phenomena" that I also have joined: websites for social networking. They are for me a kind of synthesis of what I have loosely described above. They take the spirit of dating sites but with people that you already know, they allow you to collaborate, share or play with others not only with words and images but with whatever tools and widgets that someone develop. I am not going to explain those sites here, I think that you better find out what are those sites like Facebook, MySpace, hi5 and Bebo about by yourself. Like the slogan of the VoIP (voice over IP) provider Skype says... take a deep breath!... now dive.