So WordPress saw a 250% increase in imports from Posterous within 24 hours of the announcement that it had been acquired by Twitter. Only 18 months ago, in August 2010, Posterous was announcing that WordPress was a dying platform. It was quite aggressively encouraging bloggers to use its import tool to move over to Posterous and I blogged about this at the time. Now Posterous users are worried it’s going to die because it’s been bought over by Twitter.
It seems so many tools that get widely adopted seem to have a short shelf life. I never did get into Friendfeed, but once it was taken over by Facebook, further development stopped and those that liked using it became concerned about its long term viability and started to look for alternatives. I took a look at Amplify and that’s another service that recently without warning very suddenly closed down. Amplify users have been directed to Clipboard but they’ve lost access to their content and there’s no guarantee that their content will be migrated over at a future date.
There was a significant cafuffle when it was announced that Yahoo was closing down Delicious, people migrated to Diigo, Zootool, Pinboard and others. I felt quite smug at the time because I saved my bookmarks to Diigo and had them autoposting to Delicious, so I had a back-up already. Then Delicious was bought over and relaunched and users weren’t happy with the new look and feel.
More recently I’ve been using Scoop.it to curate content, sometime I make use of the autoposting function and cross post to Tumblr so a few things are backed up there but not everything. Google+ and Pinterest are also new flavours of the month. I’ve resisted Pinterest but am trying to give Google+ a go.
Sometimes I think I dip in and out of too many tools. But as Alan Cann always wisely reminds us it’s about building networks not destinations. So if one of the tools or platforms I use closes down I can still connect with people. That’s good but if I lose my content that’s still a big deal. Sometimes it seems like we have to constantly keep our ears to the ground to make sure we don’t get caught out by one of our favourite tools dying overnight or being bought over by a bigger fish in the sea and then killed off. This is exactly what Posterous users are worried about, the concern being Twitter has bought it for the talent that developed Posterous rather than the platform itself.
It’s a pity technology doesn’t come with a best before date stamped on it.
We’re in the process of reviewing our current student portfolio and looking to move from a paper-based portfolio to an e-portfolio. Once the requirements have been defined and agreed we’ll start to review e-portfolio platforms and decide which one we’ll adopt. I’ve yet to start looking at possible e-portfolio solutions in detail, but some of my medical colleagues have already made comments about the clunkiness of some of the possible contenders. I’m at a loss to understand why usability seems to be overlooked in the development of so many educational IT systems. Why can’t they be as intuitive to use as many of the Web 2.0 type technologies that I use to support my own lifelong learning?
Reading James Clay’s latest blog post about how Posterous had the potential to be used to capture the learner’s voice got me thinking about how some of the features in Posterous would be good to have in an e-portfolio. One of the features of Posterous, that’s appealing to many, is that you can post by email. It’s easy to attach images or web clipings to a post. You can also attach video and audio files and these will be embedded too. For those who want to post online they can and posting via your smartphone is easy. Shouldn’t this sort of functionality be standard in any student e-portfolio?
Thinking about the tutors who need to review student portfolios, again for me usability is a key issue. Working in medical education where many clinical tutors have so many demands on their time ease of use and access are particularly important. Looking again at Posterous, it supports commenting by email. Should e-portfolios automatically send the latest post by a student to their tutor and allow the tutor to post their feedback by replying to the email. With increasing interest in audio and video feedback could such a system make it easier for tutors to give feedback in these ways. With most doctors used to using dictaphones being able to record their feedback to students and email it to their e-portfolios might help improve the level of feedback that students receive.
Another feature of Posterous is autoposting to other sites. Where students are producing their own learning content like video they could autopost to YouTube or Vimeo and share these with the wider medical education and student community and start to accrue some scholarly recognition for the resources they’ve developed.
The other element needed in a medical student portfolio is the abilty to link or map the student’s work to the learning outcomes set out on the GMC’s Tomorrow’s Doctors 2009. Tagging of entries could help with this, but something a bit more sophisticated might be helpful with templates for different types of entry.
Is there an e-portfolio system out there already with all this sort of functionality and ease of usability?
Last month Posterous ran a marketing campaign targeting users of Tumblr, Flickr and WordPress, amongst others, trying to tempt them over to Posterous. Posterous has claimed that platforms like WordPress are dying and that users should make the most of their new import tools and transfer their blogs over to them. The tone of Posterous’ campaign come in for some criticism and there was a piece on ReadWriteWeb questioning whether calling out dying platforms was good for Posterous? Another blog onecoolsitebloggingtips posed the question, Preposterous or Posterous?, highlighting that many have not been impressed with ‘the direction the Posterous advertising has gone’.
So will I be moving my blog to Posterous? No I don’t think I will. I have WordPress, Tumblr and Posterous sites but I use them for different things. I don’t blog here as often as I would want to, but I like that here on WordPress (WP) I can save drafts of pieces that I’m writing and come back to them. Maybe I’m missing something on Posterous, but I can’t see an option to save a post as a draft, I seem to have to publish a post as private and then come back to it and then when it’s finished change it to public view. Posterous is adding new functionality at quite a pace so this may come on stream before too long.
I initially started using Posterous as a bit of an online scrapbook and then started my football blog there and recently I’ve been thinking about whether to move this over to WP. Perhaps I’m just a creature of habit, but I do prefer using WP and maybe it’s because as I see this as the place to think out loud and places like Posterous as somewhere to aggregate things that I find of interest. Martin Weller outlined over a year ago on The Ed Techie how he was using Tumblr as a place to dump interesting things he comes across, whilst his blog was the place he thinks things through. I’ve been using Tumblr in a similar way, it’s the place I post things on the web that I find interesting. I prefer the Tumblr toolbar bookmarklet to the Posterous one because it gives me more options including the option to save to draft. I don’t post much by email, but if I wanted to I can do that with Tumblr too and there’s also a neat little app for the iPhone. Posterous have made much about the fact that Tumblr doesn’t have comments as standard, but it’s easy to add this by integrating your Disqus account.
Over the past month I’ve been thinking a bit more about how I want to use Tumblr and also taking another look at Friendfeed. I’ve been following Alan Cann’s pieces about Friendfeed over on his Science of the Invisible Blog with interest and decided it was time to give it another go. I signed up ages ago but never really got it. My Friendfeed feed just seemed to be full of people’s tweets, so recently I took Alan’s advice and culled a lot of the people I followed, I unsubscribed everyone that was just publishing their twitter stream as I already see these tweets on Twitter. The thing now is to find people to follow. Part of the problem for me seems to be the lack of individuals working in medical education who are active on sites like Friendfeed, Twitter etc. Whilst I’ve not really started to follow anyone new on Friendfeed I have started to follow some people on Tumblr. It’s not that easy to find people to follow on Tumblr but I’ve found a few and it’s been interesting to discover information and content that I wasn’t coming across via Twitter or other channels I use. The one drawback of Tumblr is that you can’t easily comment or enter into dailogue with other Tumblr users because of the lack of commenting as standard, which is a bit frustrating. You can only comment if people have installed a Disqus account and not many people have done this.
I’ll continue to use Tumblr as my online scrap book and perhaps with time more people might add Disqus so that there can be a bit more discussion which will add further value. I will also keep checking Friendfeed but I’m still not sure if it’s for me. More recently I’ve come across Amplify, which seems a bit like Friendfeed and I’d be interested to hear what others think of it and what value they get from using it. As for Posterous I’ll continue to use it but I don’t think it’s going to kill off WordPress and Flickr. If the Posterous bookmarklet web posting was more like the Tumblr one and you could save to draft maybe it will give Tumblr a run for its money and I might end up using it more.
This week I started a 6-week staff development course on Teaching & Learning Online. It’s been quite interesting so far and I’m quite enjoying being a student again for a few weeks. In this first week there are a series of activities for us to engage with, comment on and reflect on in our personal blogs. It’s been good to have some time to reflect. One of the things I’ve realised is that I should bookmark more to Diigo and Delicious. I keep thinking of blog posts that I’ve seen which I now want to read again because they relate to the issues I’m now wanting to think about and reflect on. Typically these are blog posts and articles that I’ve half scanned and which have half engaged me but I didn’t bookmark because they weren’t of that much interest to me at the time. Perhaps I need to rethink my practice here and start saving things which might potentially be useful or relevant to me a few weeks or months further down the line.
There is a bit of a buzz around Posterous at the moment and maybe should start using it to record some of my reflections when I’m reading things and pull in video clips and images etc. I’m interested to know how others are finding it or whether there is anything else I should consider trying out.