iGoogle page acts as my portal for work, play, and socializing. So, let's break it down. (You can click on the image for a clear enlargement.)
The upper toolbar holds the bookmarks I use most often. Google Wave is still in beta, and I play here, seeing what it can do and how it might be used by students and teachers. Once it is opened for general use I can see it as an ideal collaborative space for group project work. My blogging tools are Blog This, Blogger Dashboard, Share on FaceBook and Flickr Creative Commons. I can grab interesting posts from my RSS feed and quickly add them to a post to blog about later, or even just to re-visit and think about and try. Of course, a picture tells a thousand words and Flickr Creative Commons is my one-stop shop for great images I can use with attribution.
The next bar is for Diigo, a FREE social networking site designed for researchers. The Diigo toolbar allows me to grab a website or blog post, annotate it on the live web, attach digital sticky notes, archive it for later use, save it to lists, and if I want I can share it with my Diigo network. Every morning I get an email from my Diigo groups with articles that have been shared by other educators and researchers. The generosity of the Diigo community is a large source of information, most recently from a guy in the U.K. who has been sharing wonderful European primary source sites. I follow lists for school librarians, Web 2.0 Educators, History and English Teachers and a couple of others. Each morning (at the ridiculous hour of 5:30am) I have my tea, listen to the weather, ignore the dogs, and go through my Diigo updates. Right then I will pull out valuable resources and post them to the library wiki. This allows us to keep enriching our portal to be a true 24/7 support and resource for students.
After Diigo comes the YoLink toolbar. Another FREE resource, this facilitates deep web searching in a very elegant, easy to use way. As a case study, if you look carefully you can see I accessed Google Scholar (academic sources - terrific resource!) to search "Brecht" and "anti-colonialism", used YoLink to help with the search, and annotated the site using Diigo. YoLink plays beautifully with other applications and also archives searches and sites for notation. If they would partner with NoodleTools life would be perfect in research land. (Why I was searching Brecht and anti-colonialism is another story that involves my college age daughter, a late hour call and a fast approaching deadline.)
Finally you can see the tabs I had open at the time, which are generally always the tabs I have open. Google Docs holds my library documentation, primarily the forms we created to track library data and lesson plans. These forms keep our data organized and churn out beautiful little graphs that I can share on a moment's notice. At this point Google has so much information about me they could create a clone and nobody would ever notice. I got over that reality awhile ago.
And Facebook. I check in quite a bit and use this for professional as as well as personal connections. Awhile ago a library colleague from central Massachusetts recommended a friend. I had never met this person but over Facebook we developed a lively friendship based on similar humor and a mutual (slightly manic) addiction to quizzes. This online friendship resulted in Anita (hi, Anita!) spending professional days observing in the CCHS Library and we will be attending the ALA Mid-Winter conference in Boston together.
There is always something new to try, to play with, to learn. I am connected to smart people who care passionately about learning and generously share this wealth. Our students and staff are the beneficiaries.
Now, about Brecht and anti-colonialism...