music tech blog

The Power of

The term “social bookmarking” may not be familiar to everybody, but it has emerged as one of the most useful tools of the Web 2.0 movement. The service (now owned by Yahoo!) is the oldest and best example of the power of social bookmarking. allows users to save their bookmarks online, allowing them to be accessible from any computer with an Internet connection. I have always been reluctant to spend a lot of time organizing my bookmarks in Firefox or Inernet Explorer because I only have access to this bookmark set on that particular computer. keeps your bookmarks on its servers, eliminating this problem. The service also has a wide variety of organizational features such as tagging, bundling, and adding notes to bookmarks. Visit my page to see how I have used these tools to organize all of my information. When you go to a bookmark you can also see who else has tagged that bookmark and visit their profiles. If you find another person’s bookmarks consistently interesting you can add them to you network. Visit my network for an example of how this works. This is an incredibly useful feature that essentially creates a shared news page for you and your friends. Also, you can subscribe to specific tag and see a fire hose feed of all items being tagged with these words. Visit my tag subscription page for an example of this in practice.

Uses in Education

Once one starts experimenting with the social (sharing and collaborative) aspect of, one sees all sorts of amazing potential for this service in education. If you check out my DePaul and Oakton pages, you can see how I am organizing online information for specific institutions. This is a useful way to organize personal or group information. After some of the bookmarks on this page you will see “saved by 19 other people” or another such figure. You can click on this and see who else has tagged this. By visiting their user page you can discover their bookmarks. is an information research portal and a way to collaboratively organize Internet resources, and it has helped me immensely. It is also great fun and a way to discover all sorts of new stuff online. Teachers can create a recommended readings page by tagging bookmarks with a specific tag (recommended_CA520, for example). Every bookmark has a specific URL associated with it ( for this example), and teachers can direct students to this specific URL. Since any new bookmarks tagged with this specific tage will appear on the page it is a constantly evolving page. See below for examples of how to do this collectively as a class.
The system:media:audio tag

Another really interesting aspect of’s organizational system is its ability to recognize certain tagged media types. When you tag http://anotherlameosong.mp3 in, it recognizes that this URL is an audio file and treats it differently than other URLs. It applies a small Flash player to any tagged audio so that you can listen to it directly in Visit my podcast archive page for an example of this–it is quite useful.

You can also attach whatever tags you would regularly attach to content. Let’s say you are teaching a class. You find many different audio files on the subject you are teaching hosted at other universities, podcasts containing relevant information, or other such content you would like to share with the class. You simply tag these files with “forclass“. On the first day of class, you instruct all class members to bookmark this page: They can name the bookmark “materials for class” or whatever. Then anything you tag with “forclass” automatically shows up in everyone’s browser.

Also, you can tell them to put into their iTunes (or other such program), and these files will be automatically downloaded to their computer. You can do the same thing with PDF documents! Set up plus whatever tags you are looking for, and you will discover documents in much the same process. This is less useful than the system:media:audio search and tag feature, but it is still interesting.
Collaborative Educational Tagging with

Agree on a tag with your collaborators and you can create a set of shared resources. Visit this page: Everything in that has been tagged with “pine” is available on this page, along with any notes people may have added to the link.

Now create a specific tag: NU_CA_100_FALL_2006 (would stand for Northwestern University College of Arts class 100 Fall Quarter 2006)

It looks complicated, but this tag will likely be unique. Tell all class members/collaborators/fellow teachers/TAs to tag all relevant materials with this tag along with any additional relevant notes. Then people only have to visit (they can make a bookmark for it in their browser) and have all the shared resources of the class at their fingertips. Tagging some MP3 files in that batch? Play them from the page or put this URL into iTunes to have the files downloaded automatically to a student’s iPod:


October 7, 2006 Posted by | organizing, Tech, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

200 years of content accessible through Google News

Ars Technica recently announced that Google is starting the Google News Archive Search, a service that will allow for searches from selected sources up to 200 years into the past. Ars Technica reports:

You can think of the new search in one of two ways: a more specialized version of a regular Google search, or a much broader version of a Google News search. Queries to the News Archive search magazines, newspapers, and some Web-only publications for content, and can return results in a standard format or a new “timeline” view that makes it easy to follow the progression of a story over time. Searches can be limited by date if you want only early 20th-century coverage of the Titanic sinking, for instance. Just as we’ve come to expect from Google, searches are fast, the interface is clean—and Google has no current plans to make any money from the project.

Read the complete post here.

Google has a concise description of the new service. It will allow for timeline searches for a specific topic though a period of time, identify key periods of news for a specific name/story/event, and the popularity of the text being identified. It will be interesting to see how this service develops–it could prove to be an incredibly useful educational and research tool.

See more about this new Google development in this post from Google Blogoscoped.

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September 7, 2006 Posted by | Education, organizing, Tech | 1 Comment

New iTunes innovations

Fall is fast approaching, and that means new product announcements from Apple. I have written about some of Apple’s new developments earlier on my blog–you can find my previous posts here and here. Apple is set to make some new announcements in mid-September, and the word is that a new iPod Video is likely to be announced. The biggest anticipated new development for iTunes is downloadable movies. These movies are expected to be priced at $9.99 or $14.99. Either of these price points seem too high–one can go to Wal-Mart and pick up the same movie at a higher resolution and with special features on DVD, and people wth even a little tecnical knowledge can convert their existing DVDs to iPod format already. The convenience factor of direct iPod movie downloads will likely rack up a lot of sales for Apple (and the movie industry), however.

Some of the expected movie release titles for iTunes include American Psycho, Dogma, Cold Mountain, The Lion King, Aladdin, and Chicken Little.  You can find a complete list here.
Apple is notorious for keeping their new products under wraps, and the new Pod is no exception. The AppleInsider recently reported on some new features supposedly coming from Apple this month. :

Although the semi-official word out of Apple Americas is that invitations to the event have “not been sent” out, a seemingly inadvertent leak out of Apple Europe last week pinned the affair for Tuesday, September 12. It will be hosted by Jobs in a yet-to-be disclosed California location and beamed via satellite throughout the world.

Jobs will have much to talk about during the event, sources familiar with the chief executive’s plans have said, including new iMacs and a much-anticipated update to the iPod nano. But the real push, they say, will be tied to the big screen.

After what has seemed like nearly two years of rampart speculation and unbridled enthusiasm on the part of its fans, the Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is ready to introduce its al la carte feature film download service as part of iTunes.

Though slightly battered in his negotiations with major motion picture studios, Jobs is expected to announce that flicks from at least one major studio will be immediately available for download starting at just $9.99 a pop. In very much the same way national television networks elected to join the iTunes video bandwagon after some initial hesitation, additional studios are likely to follow suit in the coming months.

This is great news for Apple and for iPod fans. Movies downloads are the next logical step after music video and TV show downloads. There are also rumors of an iTunes jukebox and a new 23 inch widescreen iMac. A video-enable AirPort Express base station is also rumored to be announced. It is also anticipated that the new Core 2 Duo chips will be added to Apple’s current desktop and laptop offerings.

It is widely speculated that the new iPod with video will contain a much larger screen. Here is a widely circulated “leaked” image of a new iPod video screen. Who knows if this is actually for real.

In related news, DRM problems with Sony audio from the iTunes music store have been reported. Apparently some tracks from Sony artists are being prevented from being downloaded. Read more on this subject on Kim Cameron’s recent post.

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September 5, 2006 Posted by | iTunes, Tech, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

Educational uses of Google Maps

The Google Maps Mania blog recently did a post on the educational uses of Google Maps and Google Earth. For those who have not experimented with these services, Google Maps is Google’s web-based mapping program (similar to MapQuest or Yahoo! Maps), and Google Earth is a desktop-based program (that still uses the internet) that combines various satellite maps to create a highly detailed rendering of the entire planet.

Both of these programs have numerous applications in the world of education. Here is a link to an MP3 from discussing uses of Google Maps in the classroom. It is amazing to think about how this technology can potentially change the classroom. Even the early Yahoo! Maps or MapQuest versions made a huge difference in the accessibility and usefulness of mapping technologies. I remember plotting out my path from airport to hotel to audition site and back with MapQuest and printing it into a packet. This seemed amazing at the time, and programs like the current Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, and Google Earth take it even further.

Here is a recent post from on using Google Maps mashups in the classroom. This is a really interesting listing of some current mashups. All of these mashups are interesting, but be sure to check out the New York City Interactive Transit Map and the Gmaps pedometer.

The Google Earth Blog also has some great information on educational uses for the program:

It is close to the end of summer in the northern hemisphere. Many kids are heading back to school after a summer break. For those of you who are educators and have thought, or heard, that Google Earth would make a good tool for geography lessons – let me suggest you look closer. Google Earth (GE) is not only a great tool for geography – it is a tool for tying all kinds of information to location. When you first load GE you have a wealth of information available at your fingertips. Thousands of aerial and satellite photos, dozens of layers of information: city names, country borders, airport locations, road maps, National Geographic content, volcanoes, and more. Since Google Earth is an intuitive and fun tool, I believe you could use it as a visualization and educational tool for almost any subject. Once students prepare their own content, GE can be used to present their work – or even share their work with the world.

Check out the complete post here.

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September 5, 2006 Posted by | Education, Tech, Web 2.0 | 1 Comment

E-mail tips from Glenn Wolsey

Merlin Mann of 43 Folders clued me in to this recent post by 14 year old New Zealand blogger Glenn Wolsey. Dealing with e-mail is becoming more and more difficult over time, and it is probably going to get worse rather than better. Even excluding spam (of which I get at least 50 a day), sorting, categorizing, and responding to e-mail is taking up more and more of a person’s working day. How can we deal with this mess?

Glenn’s first tip is really great: stop checking your mail every minute or two. I get into this habit in front of the computer. I have my web mail program open in a Firefox tab and am constantly checking my mail. Resist the urge to stop what you are working on and answer each incoming e-mail. Instead, set aside a little time every hour or two to answer and deal with incoming e-mails. It is similar to using the phone.

Glenn writes about using a three folder system for organizing e-mail: Follow-Up, Interesting & To Do. I have always had a hard time organizing my e-mails this way. I either delete the trash, immediately respond, or make a note in my to do list to respond later. If I read an e-mail and just make a mental note to respond later I almost always lose track of the e-mail.

Merlin Mann has covered similar organizational methods on his very useful blog. Visit his Inbox Zero series of posts–you’ll be sure to get some new ideas.

September 4, 2006 Posted by | organizing, Tech, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

Beta Blogger versus WordPress follow-up

I recently wrote a post ( versus the new Blogger) in which I compared the feature sets of the new Beta Blogger with the freely hosted blogs available on, and also what new features are being rolled out in the new Beta Blogger.

This recent post from the Googolians blog makes some interesting points regarding whether to move our old blog to Beta Blogger or not. It sounds like problems have surfaced with logging in, template corruption, and scarily, lost blogs. Apparently some users who have acted on the option to convert their blog to Beta Blogger (most Blogger are not yet presented with this option) have had their blog disappear! The Real Blogger Status Beta blog also has a list of some general design deficiencies which my cause you to think twice about migrating your blog.

This is an early beta version of what one hopes will become a solid service, so hopefully these issues will be resolved over the coming weeks. On a positive note, it looks like raw HTML editing is now available in Beta Blogger. I will be looking forward to switching despite the problems if only to get rid of the spinning publishing triangle of death.

A valid idea is being proposed on many blogs, and it is one that I am likely to experiment with. Create a Beta Blogger mirror blog for your regular Blogger blog, and just post your content to both blogs for the time being. This will give you a chance to play around wit the new features (sidebar widgets, categories, etc.) without subjecting yourself to the problems that are surfacing with Beta Blogger.

WordPress, anyone? That still seems like a better choice for most people right now, but time will tell.

September 2, 2006 Posted by | Blogging, Tech, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

Web 2.0

Nuevobasso Web 2.0-style!  Courtesy of Web 2.0 Logo Creator.

August 28, 2006 Posted by | Tech, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

Eyespot Rocks!

Recently I have been playing around a lot with Eyespot , the video shaing/editing/mixing application by David Dudas and company. Eyespot was created in 2005 and is really a cool application. Although it has only a fraction of YouTube‘s juggernaut of a user base, Eyespot is definitely worth a visit. You can dump all of your videos online just like YouTube but (unlike YouTube) you can also edit them together to create mixes. These mixes can then either be published to the web or downloaded. Photos and audio tracks can also be uploaded. This is the first browser-based video editing tool that I have come across (if anyone else has found other such services please let me know). It is quite easy to use and extremely slick.

Some restrictions:

  • 50 MB video clip limit – pretty restrictive
  • you can only mix one audio track together per mix
  • only one effect per clip/photo

These restrictions are far outweighed by the innovative and cool features:

  • Magnatune music available within Eyespot for your mixing pleasure
  • can mix photos and clips together
  • can cue up multiple downloads – great when uploading many small clips
  • much simpler titling/categorizing system than YouTube

The site is made with Perl and Ajax and is very slick and straightforward to use. This kind of system will obviously never be nearly as robust as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere, but it has enough features to accomplish basic video editing (titling, fade in/out, effects) and is great for creating videos to embed in blogs. I would like to be able to add more than one effect per clip and more than one audio track per mix, but this is a great start. Since Eyespot is still in Beta is is likely that some more features will be coming soon.

Eyespot is a site that seems at first very much like YouTube (only without the huge user base). The video editing and (especially) mixing features are what really set it apart. You can mix your clips, photos, and audio tracks together with anybody else’s public material. This is really addictive and fun once you start exploring. I have created several mixes using my clips and stock footage. The Eyespot mixing program puts some credits at the end of your mix citing everyone from whom you used material. This is a really great feature and is not something have seen in other Web 2.0 applications.

There are also many interesting promotional opportunities for musicians with Eyespot. Put your music up on any mix and you will automatically be credited at the end of that mix. Becoming a participating artist could be a very smart move for an independent band/artist. Contact Eyespot to find out more on becoming a collaborator.

Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur of TWiT.TV interviewed David Dudas of Eyespot a couple of months ago on their podcast Inside the Net. Here is a link to that podcast. I hope that Eyespot succeeds as a viable service–I really haven’t come across anything else exactly like it.

August 28, 2006 Posted by | Tech, Video, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

Last holdout bands join iTunes

Wired News recently put out a story on some popular artists who only now agreed to sell their music on iTunes. Here is a quote from the story about why certain artists think online distribution is bad:

But the artists argue online distribution leaves them with too small a profit. And, they say, iTunes wrecks the artistic integrity of an album by allowing songs to be purchased by the track for 99 cents. Some bands, such as AC/DC have released albums on other, more flexible sites, but not iTunes.

“We’ve always thought certain artists put out albums that aren’t meant to be compilations with 50 other artists,” said Ed “Punch” Andrews, manager for both Seger and Kid Rock. “We’re hoping at some point albums become important again like they were in the past 30 years.”

There are other reasons bands avoid cyberspace. In some cases, various parties that own or control older music catalogs can’t agree to a distribution contract. Others have avoided the internet altogether out of piracy concerns. (Most online stores, however, use rights-management technology to protect against unauthorized distribution.)

It is my understanding that Apple gives record companies a very large percentage of each individual download. Record companies have started to renegotiate contracts with artists (since legal online distribution took off) to give even less to the artist. Many artists that were making the equivalent of 30 cents per song sold are now making only 10 cents.

It is not online distribution that is hurting artists but rather the greedy tactics of record companies. Many recording musicians make substantially more distributing their music themselves rather than dealing with a record company. Michael Dean (formerly of BOMB) is a great example. Put out your own music, offer some tracks for free from your band website, put some tracks out on the Podsafe Music Network, and sell your music through CD Baby (thereby getting into the iTunes music store). Who needs a record contract?

August 24, 2006 Posted by | iTunes, Music, Tech, Uncategorized | Leave a comment