Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mashup your Library's Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, Facebook accounts!

I've being thinking about how libraries can mashup their Twitter, Flickr, Youtube and other web 2.0 accounts and display them using cool visualizations.

Visualization on screensavers


Initially I toyed with the idea of displaying rss feeds using screensavers. Software such as Nuparadigm's RSS screensaver, RSSmore , , RSSsaver and more do this.

Since Twitter can be pushed out as a RSS feed, you can display them as a screensaver on library owned machines. You can of course add more than one feed, so you can add your blog feeds, or from any service that allows RSS feeds as output (or aggregate them all using Friendfeed and use the feed there as an output).

This is a light weight option that works well. But as cool as the visualizations and effects are, they only do text, so if you want to show off your Youtube videos or Flickr pictures, this isn't ideal

Next, I investigated web-based services.

Visible Tweets



With the twitter craze out there, services such as Visible Tweets (see movie below) , Twitterverse (now down) , provides cool visualizations of Twitter tweets. The main problem with them was the same as before, they only do Tweets, you can't include pictures or videos.



Example using unquietlibrary(Creekview High School Library) as a keyword

Twitter Fountain


I also came across Twitterfountain (see below)

This is a tool used at conferences that allows mashingup of Tweets and images from Flickr. As such it will pick up every tweet that is tagged with a chosen keyword. The background displayed will be pictures tagged with another chosen keyword.

In the example above, I chose "unquietlibrary" (Creekview High School Library, a library that has being very progressive with regards to the use of Social media) as the keyword. While this works fine for picking up tweets and flickr pictures uploaded by the user account unquietlibrary, it will also pick up other Tweets and Flickr pictures by other accounts which tag flickr pictures using the same keyword, or Tweet using the keyword.

This is good for conferences when you want to allow any user to contribute, but this is not a good idea if you just want to display tweets or images from your account only.

Finally, I came across possibly the best solution - Flotzam!

Flotzam



Flotzam mashups up Flickr, Twitter, Youtube, Digg , Facebook and RSS feeds and will display not just text but also images and videos.

Better yet you can choose to display by user and/or by tags/keyword. For our use, we will just want to restrict results from our account, rather than by keywords.

For Twitter you can even view the tweets of a user and all his friends.

You can also add Facebook accounts, though you need to log-in first. I tried using my Facebook account but it produces strange random results, like pictures of my friends? More testing needed for this.

You can also change various settings with regards to how many notices you see at the same time etc.

There are 4 themes out there, and they are all seriously cool! So much so I embed all 4 videos using the 4 themes below. Examples are from my library and the unquietlibrary.









Even better is if you can get Tetris Flotzam working (below).



Unfortunately for me, it crashes whenever I try to change the settings.

Do note that flotzam is quite a memory hog, and you need to have quite a powerful system and requires .Net 3.5 framework SP1 installed.

One thing that I didn't address is this. While all this is cool, what practical use can you put this too? Many libraries have large LCD plasma flat screens at various points in the library which they use to display notices (my library uses a looping powerpoint display). Seems to me Flotzam could be used on these displays, perhaps interspersed with the usual notices.
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