Social Networking for Nurses :: Nurse Linkup

Nurse Linkup LogoAs readers of this blog may or may not be aware of I am a Registered Nurse. I rarely if ever talk about my job or nursing or anything else to do with my career. In fact I make a point of not doing so. You can read all about this in posts that I have made before. But I think that given my career this site was worth talking about. I found late last week a social networking site for nurses. On the whole NurseLinkup is a fine effort and has all the elements to be successful with the target audience.

On first look this site is simple. But I think that is important. The reason being is that I am an exception; most nurses are not tech savvy. Sure we are where it counts, in what we do but RSS feeds, forums, podcasts and social networks… nope. So simplicity with this audience is important. It is also important because nurses are efficient people and more often than not tired. They don’t want or need a plethora of options to choose from. The information has to be easy to obtain, clear in it’s purpose and topic and it has to be quality content worth reading. Five out of five in my opinion. Niche social networks should learn a thing or two from the implementation shown here.

I could see this site as a wonderful place of information exchange and mutual support and discussion of issues that are important to the nursing profession. It has a number of features that it employs to accomplish these things.

Apart from the front page there are News, Articles and Forum tabs. All obvious and accessible from the front page. Although I would suggest that they source more than one site or service for their news and update more often. I do not know if this is a user contributed thing or not. So it may be that the users are not that involved yet. I have found that in cases like this then the best thing to do is to lead by example, which it appears they are doing if this is the case.
The inclusion of “most viewed” and “most popular” is a nice touch. However, what makes them different? If it has something to do with the comments then one tab needs to say “most commented”. But other than that this is a good tool to see what is relevant and felt most passionately by the users. There is a predominant U.S feel to the site but then that is where this is based so I would not expect less. In time should the service gain traction it will be good to see input from around the globe. The networking element of this as time goes on will be invaluable to nurses from everywhere.

The articles seem to have an educational focus. In addition to expanding your practice and getting the most out of your career in nursing. I noticed that there were articles on travelling with nursing and career paths in nursing. Along with a whole heap of other quality articles that are well written and researched with references. Users can also rate and comment on articles. I have not seen this as well done in this type of format before. I was also pleased to see that the articles are “on site” and not just links to articles elsewhere.

The forums are as you might expect. But the options are simple but as I said they need to be. There are forums for students, general nursing and speciality areas plus some others. Once you click on an option the various forums are displayed and the layout in it’s simplicity and ease of use is to be commended. I love the fact that they are making this technology accessible to people that would otherwise not bother or have the knowledge to do so. Any nurse out there would be able to access this service and be able to participate and get something out of it and most importantly put something back.

With these features there is also all the things that make for top usability and simplicity. Tagging is a well utilized feature, although I would question the validity of some tags (a sentence a tag does not make). There are lists of active users. Profiles and most importantly to me an RSS feed in addition the ability to subscribe via email if you don’t have a clue what RSS is. I like the thinking here. Again this makes the technology and therefore the content accessible via a medium that people both understand and trust. Users are able to blog on the site, add friends and upload photos. I would consider these features as standard for social networks but again simplicity at it’s best; well implemented and functional. Nice job.

The site is graphically very appealing and not over the top. The site speed is good but the user base is small and yet to be truly tested. I would however question their picture use in the header. It seems a bit “old school” to me. You have to look at your demographic. Sure nurses are all ages, but what types of nurses are going to be making their way to these sites and services? I think that it is going to be the slightly younger crowd or those of a more modern thinking ilk. Or at least those that have the ability to use a computer and trust the Internet enough to join. This is definitely a younger crowd and I would argue skewed male. I think that a more appealing graphic to cater to this crowd would be better. But not over the top so you would still catch the rest. In my experience it just seems in stark contrast to other social networking sites. These services usually rely on good coding and appealing layout with a nice simplistic logo as opposed to a picture that I might find in a nursing journal. It is not a bad picture, but I can’t help but think it is out of place. But that is just my opinion.

One other criticism that I would have is that of their default avatar. It depicts in silhouette an image that would be considered a female. This may well be associated with the Bio that users set up. But if there is not the option to choose between a male and a female avatar; should you choose not to display your own, I would consider this a stereotypical assumption. I am a male nurse and I am constantly being mistaken for or thought to be a doctor only because I am male. It pains me that this is still the case in the 21st century, it would disappoint me more if this is the case in a community built by nurses for nurses.

These are minor gripes on a social network that is well built and implemented for the target audience and user base. Clearly a lot of thought and effort has gone into presenting a site that works and contains good quality content. I am very proud that we nurses are up there competing with major, better covered and known sites in design and usability. If anything this is an excellent example of how a niche community should be done compared to some if not most that I see (and that is a lot). This is no throw together service. I wish them all the best and hope that they see the growth that a site such as this needs to become a rich source of information and collaboration.

NurseLinkup Screenshot

Learning Firefox; Start Here

I found that I did not have to learn how to use Firefox as such. But since I have discovered the power that you have when tweaked I have learned to manipulate it to what I want. But you have to start somewhere. Learn Firefox is such a place to start and hopefully a destination to have some walk through’s for power tweaking.

I think that Firefox is very intuitive and easy to use. But then that is me. Sometimes people have a hard time doing simple things. True, Firefox does things differently to IE. I use IE as an example because I would argue that a lot of Firefox users come from there. You have to stop thinking that you use Firefox in the same manner. They are chalk and cheese. IE is a steel box, Firefox is plasticine by comparison. So where am I going with this?

Basically, Learn Firefox is a site attached to CyberNet that has been created as a visual “how to” guide to Firefox. They have started simple, for example how to set your homepage, make it your default browser and such. But there are more advanced features that are presented in an easy to follow format that makes it simple to do. Because it is simple, most customisations are very simple. But the functionality of Firefox can be daunting for some people, or they find it difficult to get started. This is an excellent place to get over those initial humps. It is also a great place for people that have used Firefox for a while but want to adapt it to their needs.

Everything is set out as headings and sub-headings. I am sure that most people will find what they are wanting help with very quickly and easily. One thing that I just thought of is that this service is a great way for people that don’t use Firefox to have a look at Firefox see what it can do and how it can be manipulated to what you need and want.

What I would like to see is some tips for power users such as tweaking the about:config page. Installing and using extensions like Greasemonkey and such. I know that it was not until I did these advanced tweaks that Firefox really became a powerful productive tool. Not that it is not that way to start with but I feel that tweaking it my way has made it mine. In actual fact I have tweaked it to the point where I think some users would have difficulty using it! That said they have just got the site up and going and this is the best place to start, basics.

Great job and if you are just starting out with Firefox or are thinking of using it; check out Learn Firefox. For more advanced users; keep an eye on it because I think this has huge potential to be the site to learn and tweak Firefox.

For those advanced users of Firefox check out CyberNet’s Updated Guide On Firefox 2 Tweaks as a great place to start tweaking and making Firefox your own.

Learn Firefox Homepage

Tracking Web 2.0

This has done the rounds a bit but I still wanted to have my say about it. Movers 2.0 is a web site that sprang up last week that tracks the movements of Web 2.0 websites and is updated daily.

This is nothing new as Seth Godin’s Web 2.0 Traffic Watch List has been around for a while. However, Seth’s page offers nearly 1000 entries and does take a while to load. Plus I don’t think it is as easy to read data from. Still it is more comprehensive. This simpler format while based on the same data is the top 100… or so; as I see there are 207 today. As well as having some nice additional features.

Movers 2.0 is based on Alexa traffic data so make of that what you will as there is much debate over the accuracy of this data. However the debate over metrics is not one that is resolved easily. But, Movers 2.0 is an indicator if nothing else. Plus there are some features that make it stand out. The inclusion of logos and being more of a visual interface makes it a lot easier to read and maintains interest.

Another nice feature is the links next to each entry to pages that contain more specific data. The “Complete” link includes graphs, news, and a nice trust indicator. This data comes from Complete to which you are redirected. However there are also links included that activate graphs with Java Script and a search for blogs linking in powered by Google. Click the “More” link to view these options.

While the top entries on sites such as this won’t change that much in the short term; the bottom 20 or so will. This is where I would be looking for the fast movers and growing sites that should be watched. This is also where you will see already popular site tussle for traffic.

To make this a more complete Web 2.0 tracker there is also a Weekly Movers List that I think is a lot more useful as far as what I do. This page also offers all the features that the main page does. Nice.

This really is a one stop shop for getting a snapshot of the web on any given day and for tracking the weekly goings on in 2.0. No metrics is ever going to be perfect or the most reliable over another but it takes sites like this one to add to our arsenal of sites that tell us about traffic, numbers and ultimately popularity to be able to maintain a balanced view. Nicely done and the inclusion of some off site data is a nice touch.

Movers 2.0 Screenshot

Add Platial Maps Widget to Your WordPress.com Blog

As you can see there have been a few changes around here. I found some motivation from somewhere and decided to update the widgets and ended up with a whole new look. I am still working on a few things but if you find something that isn’t quite right let me know. Since I was editing the widgets for the new theme I came across a new widget for WordPress.com users. It looks like I got the hop on the WordPress guys on this one as they are yet to release it.

You will notice in the sidebar widgets that there is now a Platial Mapkit widget available. Add it to your sidebar and it will show a mini map of the starting location that you specify when you set it up. Cool, but it gets better, you can add places with placemarks and readers can add their own with comments. Tag placemarks, add users as buddies and more.

Platial Mapkit Widget SampleThe Widget displayed is the one you see here. My options have been included but you can make yours up to whatever you wish. You will have to create an account if you wish to use the widget in your blog. I have also added a placemark for the approximate location of this blog’s HQ, so you can see what they look like.

The map is powered by Google Maps and therefore includes either a map view a satellite view or a mix. As well as zooming in and out and all the usual Google Map goodness. I also noticed a Google Earth link on my homepage map I set up on Platial to take a look at it.

I have not added the widget to this blog, I’d rather keep the lines that I do and not stuff it full of other stuff. Plus it is another thing I have to keep track of if it was here. Although the map I created is available to view, you can see it here. Platial is not only open to WordPress.com users but all bloggers and site designers. So if this is your cup of tea then take a look. The design is simple and to the point and the size is good for a blog, it will fit most if not all blog sidebars. I had not heard of the service before now but it looks pretty good and a bit of fun.

WordPress.com users need to click the link on the widget when it is selected in the set-up. The link is in the text “Making maps at Platial is free”.

Create an account and configure it as you wish. It is fairly simple and straight forward. You can edit these settings easily after you have joined as well so don’t worry too much if you make a mistake.

The last bit is a bit tricky, since I had no “instructions” from the guys here at WordPress I had to work it out. The widget asks you to type in the “Platial Map Id:”. This is the last digits that you see at the end of the Bookmark for your map widget that you have created. That is the Map Id that you need to enter into the widget field and hit submit.

Once that is done just slide the widget into place on your sidebar and save the changes and your done. WordPress we have maps!

Platial Screenshot

Meet People with buddystumbler :: IM Exchange

BuddyStumbler Logo ResizedBuddystumbler looks to be a good site to meet people with similar interests. I think this service has a lot going for it in that it is simple and to the point along with one of the simplest sign ups and set ups that I have ever seen. I especially like the idea of tagging yourself for others to find.

When I landed on this page I was not sure what to make of it. But it gets straight to the point. A search box with a few operators to choose from. Such as male or female and age range. The search is something a bit different in that you are not searching for a name but rather by keyword, for potential friends. I thought it was a lot like tagging, tagging people. I searched for podcasting and podcast, I was disappointed to find that there were none. But then the site is fairly new and in beta. So not populated with the volume needed, yet.

But I like the idea. I don’t have that much time to keep up with the on-line contacts that I do have let alone create some more. But if you unlike me are looking for new friends then this is a great idea. The idea of searching for keywords or tags to find friends is an interesting concept. This is related to the sign up which allows you to write a brief description and then tag yourself as many times as you think necessary. Keywords that identify your interests, hobbies, personality and whatever else you can think up. You then input your username or names from Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL or all of them.

The meeting bit involves the exchange of IM names only and both parties have to agree. No other information other than the instant messenger user name you designate is exchanged. The rest is up to the people involved to chat via their respective IM clients. I think this is smart because the site has done the job and you pursue a friendship or contact away from the service. The inclusion of a shoutbox on your profile helps get things started if you don’t necessarily want to exchange usernames straight away. It does sound a bit like an on-line dating service, potentially it could end up like that but hopefully not.

Say I was new to podcasting and I wanted to find some new friends that would talk podcasting with me and give me some support in my new venture. This would be a great place to potentially find someone like that. This process is actually quite difficult otherwise and requires a fair bit of effort. You can search other places, email other podcasters and use services like Skype and search for users with descriptions that interest you. But this cuts to the chase and makes that a whole lot easier. The other advantage is that users of this service are expecting people to want to meet them and are more likely to respond. Better than the effort of an email which might result in being ignored.

The only way that this service is going to get better is for it to be populated, at present it is a bit limited. With the IM services having their fair share of spammers and idiots I can really see people needing and wanting this type of service. With that I think once the word gets out this will appeal to certain users and groups. Slick interface with a simple premise and ease of use it has appeal.

buddystumbler Screenshot