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A Google Toy a Day: iGoogle and Google Notebook

January 26, 2009
The Google Logo

The Google Logo

While I was in California recently, I picked up a copy of the Third Edition of Googlepedia, by Michael Miller. I’ve never bought a book about something on the internet before, as I’ve always found there’s quite a lot of good advice to be found out there for free, but I was aware that Google do an awful lot, some of which like Lively, the Google answer to SecondLife (more about that later this post) I was only vaguely aware of. As I’m working my way through Miller’s book (which I have to say I recommend for its clarity), I thought I would explore some of the potential applications of the many services provided by Google to archaeology.

iGoogle, Google’s customisable home page, is an easy place for me to start because it was plank of Martin Locock’s very sensible 10 Simple Steps to Better Archaeological Management, and in this post he’s covered most of what an archaeological project manager would want to know. Here’s a screenshot of my iGoogle:

My iGoogle

My iGoogle

Like Martin Locock, I use the To Do list, which is a great little organisational tool, a wikipedia search box, and a calendar. I also keep an eye on news headlines with RSS feeds from the BBC and The Independent, as well as exchange rates and the weather.

Possibly my favourite tool is Google Notebook, which allow you to copy and paste from websites into small ‘notebooks’ which sit as a link at the bottom of your browser window, or (as I have done) can be embedded in your iGoogle page, so that the information is right there when you open up your browser.  Notebook is very easy to learn how to use, and is quite effective for pooling information you’ve found on the web onto one place, which can then be accessed remotely. You can also open and save numerous notebooks, and invite collaborators to work on a notebook with you.

My enthusiasm about Google Notebook has come at a very bad time, however. Firstly, Notebook is supported by Firefox, Chrome, and IE6, but not IE7, Safari or Opera. Worse, on January 14th, Google announced on the Notebook blog that they were stopping development on the Notebook and not allowing any new users to sign up. Needless to say I think that’s a real pity, especially as I had only just discovered Notebook thanks to reading Googlepedia. Fear not, however, as the great providers of online productivity and collaboration tools Zoho, who I use for my database of archaeomalacological results, offer a very very similar service, Zoho Notebook.

Notebook is not the only application Google has dropped this month either. On his Googlepedia blog, Michael Miller lists some other applications Google is cutting. Oh, and Lively, that virtual world Google was building in response SecondLife that I mentioned above, was closed at the end of 2008.

Next time I’ll write about something you can still use, I promise.

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