Digging the Dirt: Gardeners, welcome to Web 2.0

11 years ago

Just returning from She's Geeky, I was so happy to see Learning how to use your new gardening tool: The Web at Gardening Tips and Ideas. Stuart presents well-thought out posts that usually teach me something new. This article, though, made me feel like I was living in past.

His tips for using the web as a gardening tool?

  • 1. Use Search Engines
  • 2. Wikis. Wikipedia and wikiHow
  • 3. Yahoo Answers
  • 4. Forums
  • 5. Alerts
  • 6. RSS
  • 7. Newsletters. (really? newsletters?) Atleast he admits they are begin replaced by feeds.
  • 8. Ebooks (again, really?)  He does say they are almost outdated.
  • 9. Social bookmarking

Now aren't many of these suggestions things that have been available for several years (so decades in web-time)?  Yet Stuart is writing about them almost as if they were new?  Is the gardening community that slow to adopt?

Here's where my problems start. Stuart says (emphasis by editor):

The most interesting area yet to become useful for gardeners is the area of social bookmarking sites. This is where gardeners will be able to collaboratively build content, interact and add value to gardeners needing help (which is most of us).

Three years ago while reading the write ups of the first BlogHerCon, I wrote to Alexandra Samuel asking questions about tagging, social bookmarks, and wikis because I didn't understand them.  All the sites that discuss them seem to assume some basic level of knowledge I was missing.  She suggested that we set it up as a blogversation... writing and responding between the two blogs and getting whole communities involved. It was the right answer. Unfortunately, I was so ignorant at the time that I didn't know HOW to do what she suggested; the conversation died on the vine. Since then, I've been searching out not only the WHAT AND WHY but also the HOW; the HOW seems to be the difficult part. Harder than the WHY. So it's not that I'm not sympathetic to gardener's dilemna.

Then in May, 2006, Elise Bauer wrote one of those life-changing posts at BlogHer: A del.icio.us Cookbook. She explained in simple terms why she uses del.icio.us, what the advantages were, and how to do it! I spent time that weekend setting up my account and have been acquiring bookmarks there ever since. While I need to spend a day re-organizing a lot of new links, if you wanted to find my few bookmarks on gardening, they are there.  (note to self: I find lots of great gardening info, why aren't I bookmarking it?)

Lately I've been trying to remember to also save great content to Sk*rt. I like their self-description:

sk*rt is a social media ranking platform of pure goodness. A portal to find cool things, smart scoop, clever ideas, excellent products, exceptional information. All of it. And more. In other words, sk*rt is like that friend who always finds the best stuff. Only better.

Sk*rt can be searched by topic, and they do have gardening articles listed there. 

And here is where I explain my take on Web 2.0: it's all about being able to share what you find and what you know with other people.  People you don't know; people you might never interact with.  Not just those folks who visit the same places you do, not just the people on your forum or your mailing list.  You might share a blog post on starting herbs indoor; that post can be found and used by a 5th grade teacher who has a unit in plant biology. 

You put your stuff out there, you share it with the world, and it lives a life of its own.

I have yet to mention tags.  Either the freetagging we can use here on BlogHer, or the technorati tags that let people search for meaningful content by the tags on your blog posts.  I STILL have problems with tags. Specifically I have trouble with: adding technorati tags to posts. 

First, I'm sure there should be "rules" for tags that make them more useful: single or plural? Capitalize?  Mash words together (GardeningInWeb2.0) or separate (Gardening in Web 2.0)? Caps or No?  Many say do what you wish; but then it's hard find tagged content because it might be different by the simple addition or deletion of an "s."  So I worry about "the nonexistant rules" and don't end up doing anything.

Second: it's not an automatic feature (my blogs are on blogger).  I used to have a greasemonkey app that made it easy to add technorati tags; either an update in Firefox or my (@%#$^) Vista OS means it isn't working now.  I have a "button" on my toolbar I can use to generate one tag.  But it doesn't easily let me create multiple tags.  And I have remember to use it, it's not an automatic step in the composition screen.

Does anyone have suggestions either about the rules or about a plug in that would make this part of the process easier?  And for those gardeners or hobbyists who still don't get the "why" of tags, how would argue for their use? What rules would you suggest they follow?

RELATED READINGS:
Murdoch University Library is offering a class on Learning 2.0 that looks like a great instructional guide. 

Debra Roby blogs her art at A Stitch in Time and her life at Deb's Daily Distractions .

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