Left on the web: transcending email

I have argued in a couple of sectors that the reliance we Lefties have placed on email is fast approaching its use by date. I don't mean that email is superceded but as everyone knows the more you use it the greater is the barrage of spam. So I'm asking: whither goest thou?

Emailing with Gmail

Despite any number of assurances that your email platform also offers spam filtering I've not found a program as brutal in that regard as that attached to GMail. Only available more generally over the last few months Gmail is an all-together another way to relate to email traffic, sort it, organise and archive it. And best of all -- beside the heaps of reserve space 3000 MB! -- it culls your spam very nicely indeed.

But still there's more..! Especially for us Red Ragers: Because GMail is such an easy sign up it is so easy to create any number of accounts. Perhaps you are thinking,"so what?" Well, outside of paying for your own domain name you can create any number of campaign specific email addresses --such as wombatsagainsturanium@gmail.com (thats' wombats against uranium at gmail.com) and establish a setting for that account so that all emails are forwarded to your other, more personal and private , email address (or to another delegated account if you're on hols). That means your campaign email account comes to you rather than you having to sign into HotMail or Yahoo to check through your messages.

The other pluses with GMail are Googletalk with audio and chat(and if you sign up with GooglTalk we can talk you and I in real time) ; great control over your contacts list; one click mass e-mailouts (you just have to create the folder and import all those contact addresses -- how compaign handy is that! --such that I doubt that your ISP provider will be able to impose a number limit as has been their want in the past.) ....-- and the joys of GSpace.

There's two Gspace attributes (one owned by Google)and the one I'm interested in is an extension for the FireFox browser but really the principle is the same even when you don't use that browser. Since you are offered so much free space on GMail you can use it to store any number, any type and any size of files (maybe not feature films though!) I use GSpace to move my large audio files off my desktop for easy download as required. They are uploaded as 'attachments' to artificially created emails that are archived. But you could simply email stuff to you Gmail account anytime you wanted to get it webside such as when you are travelling and wanted to store your pictures for later scrutiny.(So why not just have a GMail account for digital photographs? )The Firefox extension is geared primarily for archiving media and digital images on the web --so it offers a great audio player and viewer attribute so you can scroll through your media and check your stored contents by viewing or listening to the files. I find it and easier interface than what my Window's program offers me.

RSS for socialists

Google Reader is an easy extension for those who are thinking they may try to get into grabbing RSS feeds. Quick sign up and in a minute you can explore what the world RSS has to offer you.

There are a few little quirks -- because it's still in beta -- but the platform is very easy to orchestrate and it's a comfortable way to explore any number of feeds. Just remember to type "r" now and then to refresh your feeds.

Compared to other standard news aggregators, Google Reader will also grab enclosures so that you can play media -- like podcasts, audio and videos -- right inside your reader inside your browser.

The only drawback is that when you are listening to audio and browser off elsewhere the sound will cut out. But then you could simply play the mp3 directly with QuickTime if that was you habit.

When I talk about RSS people look at me bemused as they are so much formatted by email that it is so hard for them to fathom the wherewithall and the reach RSS offers ...let alone the efficiency in regard to news searches and multi media.But Google Reader is such an easy sign up that here's your chance to touch base and explore the world of RSS feeds.You can even read GLW that way by subscribing to its feed.

What you get basically are headlines and snippets of the the original post so you can decide -- without downloading it -- if you want to explore that item /article /message further. So much is being syndicated through feeds now that it is almost a web standard. All public Yahoo discussion groups, for instance, offer feeds you can subscribe to rather than having to rely on email downloads.

But RSS is so dynamic and such a core element of the web today that any site needs to generate and offer a feed.

(Although not directly relevant to this point all the major tagging sites -- such as del.icio.us offer feeds for any tags you may want to create. I've even experimented with supplementary feeds fro the contents of GLW just by sorting out each edition to a series of tags or categories. which are then listed on separate feeds).


There's a lot of talk about wikis as ways to collectivize knowledge and team processes. But really I don't think we're all that ready to make such a leap where we workshop our activism inside all-in web sites. This may be a leap that can for the moment be spanned by only a few so that the discourse on such wikis is going be to be narrow for a time. Let's see what it's like in a year's time...

A wiki is like an email discussion list except you come together on the web to fulfil a specified task like write a charter or draft a resolution. Its web work by committee. Wikipedia gives you some idea how it works .

But wikis are a great way to share material because it is so easy to upload files and information to them. So if you have a pdf or MS WORD file that needs to be circulated the practice is usually to send it out as an attachment to an email message. That may seem a reasonable approach --and it certainly is the norm -- but just as effective is to instead -- or also --upload the file to a wiki site and instead of sending the attachment out you let people know where on the web they can access the file by referring your audience to its url. These uploads are one click easy without all the hassles you have to deal with with running a standard web page.

I use the free pbwiki as my workshop area and I'm experimenting with backpackit which is a little different but the pay for add ons -- especially the public calendar option suggest to me that it should be a great organising tool.

Then there are blogs..

But that' s a big area which nonetheless is the next frontier for us rads. They can be a bit irritable at times but blogs by dint of habit are an easy mastering. Therers' millions using them on MySpace and Blogger -- so for us its' just a question of jumping in and doing it. And once yupou knwo how it works then the world's your blogging oyster.

But since blogs and blogging is my current area of focus I won't explore them in detail here as I may get carried away. There's a few experiments being tried so after we've assessed that trail we'll know better where we stand in regard to blogging and blogs.