Joy All Over the Place

Google’s RSS reader. You need a gmail account to use it, but there’s nothing bad about the big guys getting in on the RSS bandwagon. The more readers the better!

In other Google news, Google has created a Librarian Center for librarians teaching Google tools to students. This is a company that just never makes mistakes, isn’t it. Nothing but love from me to the big G.

Yahoo and MSN agree to IM interoperability. This means that Yahoo Messenger users will be able to get in touch with MSN users without jumping platforms. Good news! Now, if AIM would join the party, we wouldn’t need to have three accounts to talk to all the people we want to (ahem).

This one isn’t a good news technology story. This is an op-ed piece by a Luddite writing for Wired. From Dark Underbelly of Technology:

For one thing, human beings are not meant to go as fast as modern technology compels them to go. Technology might make it possible to work at warp speed, yes, but that doesn’t make it healthy. And just because the latest software makes it feasible to double your workload (or “productivity,” to you middle-management types), that shouldn’t give the boss the right to expect you will.

With cell phones, IM and all the personal-this and personal-that, we’re connected all the time, or “24/7” as the unfortunate jargon has it. Is being connected 24/7 a good thing? Isn’t it healthy to be “off the grid” now and then? If you can’t answer “yes” to that question, you may be a tech dynamo, my friend, but please stay the hell out of my cafe.

This kind of stuff is so tedious. Being annoyed by people who use technology is so last week. The people who cling to their ipods are not actually the same people yacking away on their cell phones while you’re trying to have your soy latte. And why are we so worshipful of the notebook-toting poet in the coffee shop and so disdainful of the laptop-toting novelist? Is one inherently better than the other? (I say all this with a wrist brace on, an injury less the result of typing and more of handwriting, thank-you-very-much.)

And I’ll get on board with the “tech is not productivity” crowd as soon as they start making their own clothes from fabric they wove on a loom and washing everything by hand. We’ll see just how productive and efficient they are right around then. And let’s talk about being off the grid; how about you lay off the fossil fuels once in a while, big boy? When was the last time you left the SUV at home and took public transit on your way to get your electrically-produced espresso? The folks who write these “technology is bad” columns have predetermined which technologies they like and which they don’t without being entirely forthcoming or fair. These complaints have been handled pretty well by the “Dear Abby” crowd. Let’s not get too caught up in the glitz and glare from the shiny new laptop screens. Being a jerk in public is still being a jerk in public, whether or not you’re using a device that prefers to be plugged in.

In other news, Blackboard is buying WebCT. I know the whole academic blogosphere is abuzz with this news, and my jaw dropped as much as the next person’s. And yes, this is going to have a huge impact on those of us involved with such systems, whether or not we are current subscribers. Is this going to provide us all with a better option when it comes to course management systems? Is it a response to some of the very cool things going on with Moodle? How will a goliath system effect the development of other open source CMS products (like Sakai)? While I will be directly effected by this move, I have no direct opinion about it, really. I’m not a burning fan of any current CMS, so merges and changes just make me raise my eyebrows and nod dutifully. Will it make things better? Who knows. As long as the APIs are still around, I’m happy enough.

I have I mentioned enough times yet that Meebo is fantastic? It sure is.

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