Sitting in remotely on the OSS Watch conference yesterday on free and open source software rights and business (thanks guys – great live blogging), I was simultaneously having another attempt to like Twitter and considering the gap between those professionals who use the internet all the time and those who would like to use it for creative, time-saving and business purposes if only they could find the right tools at the right (free) price. Here then, is my current preferred list and what each tool does. It is not in an order of preference as that will change depending on the user’s end goals. Also, some start ‘free’ but as usage or privacy increases they may require some – low – subscription. Netvibes can be used as a free workshop and showroom. You have a private area where you can store work-in-progress and a public area where you can showcase your work: video, graphics, audio and text.
PBwiki can be used either as a public showroom with different pages for different purposes, or as a series of mini-workshop pages where invited/approved guests can add to the work in progress. Unlike other wikis, text, graphics, sound and video can be put on the page and dragged wherever you want it to appear so placing is quick and easy.
Slideshare is wonderful if you want to present information to potential customers or collaborators. Just upload your PowerPoint presentation and tell interested people where to locate it. Do, however, as the OSS Watch people pointed out, read the terms and conditions of use carefully before you upload anything.
ToonDoo is perfect for those who are creative but unable to draw. ‘Instant’ and presentable cartoons. The more able can add their own photos. The rest of us just have to think of appropriate jokes and pick the right drawing elements.
Google Notebook is not as versatile as Netvibes but it certainly beats a pile of yellow post-it notes. Useful information (including audio-visual items) can be grabbed from the screen and stored for later sorting or use. Storage is free and it is on the web – so perfect if you are mobile.
Delicious is another tool useful for those on the move – or simply for those who share a computer. Keep your professional bookmarks there and, not only will you not lose them, but you can arrange them so that clients, customers and colleagues can find your work.
Picnik is a photo editing tool with some fun features (adding motifs or speech) plus the ability to create collages and annotate photos. It is not, however, confined to photos as this annotated reminder note on a screen-grab shows:
LinkedIn, the professional networking site, is also worth considering as a showcase for some of the work created using these tools – especially if your target audience is businesses or specialists.