Managing your Digital Desktop

I have recently tried to re-engage with igoogle as a possible portal for bringing together the tools that I use, but it’s not great. Some elements are useful such as the calendar (I’ve synched my outlook calender with google’s) and google reader but the twitter client I’ve got isn’t great, and certainly not a patch on tweetdeck and it’s not particularly good for storing links for example (or if it is, I’ve missed it).

So I had a look at Netvibes which certainly has (or at least seems to have) much better integration with facebook and I can easily intergrate it with my exchange mailbox which is nice. I have only just started to play with it, but once I get my calendar up this could be a useful hompage, but what do other people use to manage their digital desktop?

As part of my work on the disco project I’ve been carrying out an audit of digital scholarship practices across the OU. One of the things that I have been exploring is the idea of a ‘digital desktop’, the tools and sites that scholars always have to hand. This is similiar to a VRE, a Virtual Research Environment, but as an idea is more customisable and personalised, more like netvibes/ igoogle for academics (or widgets to be included in either or other portals).

So far my interviewees have used a range of methods and tools to manage their digital desktops (nobody has mentioned igoogle or netvibes yet to be fair). One common solution is just to have a number of tabs open in your browser, one interviewee used an extensive array of firefox addons (such as feedly), to manage their work and a number have used their mobile phones to access some of their tools (email, twitter etc.).

In theory (and possibly practice but i’ve missed it) VLEs used in a scholar’s teaching could be widgets for these kinds of portals (so you could easily see as discussion forums are updated or assignments submitted) as could VREs (for an international overview of VREs see this recent JISC report ).

Integrating research and teaching tools in this way is something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot lately (in fact this has led to a proposal I’ve just submitted). Is there a need for such a portal? Do these kinds of widgets already exist? (i think the latest blackboard release is supposed to be more *cough* open)

How do people manage their digital desktops? How do they want to?


About digitalscholar

I am a sociologist with an interest in new technology. Previously I’ve worked on a number of projects at Lancaster University and the Open University looking at the use of new technologies and social media by researchers. I was also a social sciences teaching fellow at the foundation centre at Durham University teaching sociology and anthropology. I am now a senior lecturer at the University of West London's Institute for Teaching, Innovation and Learning where I oversee the foundation provision and support retention. I'm sure I'll still be interested in, and occasionally blog about, tech related things. I use this blog to post thoughts about using new technologies in my professional academic life and wider thoughts and links relating to technology more generally.
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