I know this seems overwhelming that we have a web page, 2 blogs, online picture albums, a podcast site, and now a forum. Isn't email enough?
Email is great but it is constantly being used for tasks that can be handled by better tools. I see this at work when I get 25 emails from engineers designing some widget that is completely irrelevant to my project. The result of this is a clogged mailbox. They should be using a forum or instant messaging and only targeting members of that project.
Here is my take on what these different tool are capable of
- Home Page - Mostly navigational information, links to other sites, a calendar, news feeds etc, Example http://www.poltrack.net
- Instant Messaging - Gtalk, AIM, Jabber, MSN are ideal for short back and forth conversation "texting". This is much more efficient and less annoying than sending (or receiving) an email with a single line or phrase. It is also fun to send those goofy emoticons of smiley faces.
- Blogging - This is a horrible name which was derived from WebLog. It is an online journal which you share with the world or a group of people. I think it is a great tool for sharing your adventure with your friends. One of my favorites was written by Emily's former roommate about her adventures in Japan. Example http://joannainjapan.blogspot.com
- Podcasts - audio recordings that are integrated with Apple's iTunes and can listened to on the computer or loaded on a portable device (iPod or other). Example - http://radio.poltrack.net
- Forums (or Groups) - I like to think of a forum as a party in which groups of people are gathered in groups discussing a topic, any topic. As a participant you can drift from group to group and either listen or add your own input. The forum pages are divided into "topics" and the responses are listed below the initial posting. These topic follow a "thread" so you can follow a topic along it's course without being distracted by the other text on a page. Yahoo Groups is probably the most popular of the forum sites, but I'm using Google's groups - http://forum.poltrack.net
- WIKIs - These are one type of collaborative sites that are created and maintained by a group of folks. It has it's own web creation syntax and rules. There are other collaborative tools like Sharepoint, Google's sites etc. An example of a wiki is the online encyclopedia htp://www.wikipedia.org/