Yesterday, in ‘must reads,’ I wrote that the challenge of a reading list had propelled me to the library to check out a few of the books on the list, so that I might increase my reading score. One of those was The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble. A story within the story concerns a 200 year-old memoir written by a Korean crown princess, who admits that “learning was not forbidden to women, but nor was it freely offered to them;” therefore, she often ‘stole’ learning:
When I was young, I read everything I could lay my hands upon. I stole learning from my clever young aunt, who was willing to teach me. I stole from Prince Sado, who in those early years was willing to talk to me about history and about literature and about the Confucian texts. I was an eager and a secret scholar. I stole and stored the scraps I thought I might need. (32-3)
It struck me that this was an apt description of how I compile scraps of information from all over the web, to remix and use in these blog posts as well as lessons for the classroom.
I have several growing repositories for my loot, and I choose which one to use depending on need. For example, if I find a website I want to keep in its entirety, I sock it away in Del.icio.us, a social bookmarker. The site provides a button to download onto my Firefox toolbar, making it very convenient to tag and bookmark sites. The social aspect of Del.icio.us, however, encourages me to steal even more learning, as I often find articles of interest that others have bookmarked.
If I come across a site that I need to annotate or highlight as a whole or in part, Scrapbook or Diigo will ride shotgun. I’ve written about them previously here. Google Notebook is similar to Scrapbook as a means to capture information, and while it doesn’t have an annotator, you can add comments. The main difference between the two is that Google Notebook is a web application and can be shared, while Scrapbook resides in your Firefox browser, and is therefore available to only you.
Recently, I’ve been seen with a new partner-in-crime, called Google Docs Bar, and it is a real multi-tasker. Gdocsbar is a Firefox extension that downloads a button for my toolbar. When I press it, a sidebar loads a scrolling list of my Google documents, so I can access them at any time. This handy application also provides a simple drag-and-drop function that turns any website, or portion of a site, into a Google document. It’s the easiest way to grab recipes, or poems, or tips about the using the web.
No learning is safe from my thieving ways.