Better Internet Reading-Using Bookmarklets

David Parry bio photo By David Parry

Increasingly I find students success, and ability to be media literate, is tied to their ability to use the internet. The problem with this is that reading through a browser posses a different set of problems then reading in print. I imagine something like this occurred in the technological change from scrolls to print (see this video for an example). I think we tend to assume that one can just read in an internet browser the way that one reads a book, when I am not at all sure this is the case. The primary example of this would be tabbed browsing. (I am still surprised by the number of people who don’t know about this feature, yet spend hours on the internet.)

One of the other essential “tools” to navigating the internet is Bookmarklets. Bookmarklets are little buttons you can add to your browser window that will let you act on or change the information you are seeing. What do I mean by this? First take a look at the picture below:

bookmarklets 1.jpg

These are my collection of bookmarklets, some are grouped together in folders and some that I use most frequently are by themselves. So, say for example I am reading a web page and I want to add it to Devon. I just click the one labeled Devon, and it is added to Devon. If I want to add a link to del.icio.us I simply click the one labeled pukka and it is instantly added to my account. (Del.icio.us has their own bookmarklet for this, but I use Pukka to handle more than one account, and to make my task easier.)

Honestly there is an array of possibilities here. I am not going to go into them all or offer an lengthy explanation of how this all works, because someone else already has. Searching the Internet has a post complete with audio and slide capture that runs down all of this. So, click over and take a look. You can also see the wikipedia article which has a list at the end of places where you can get these. They are super simple to use, basically you just drag them into the bar on your browser window. Find the bookmarklet you want (see Wikipedia article for places to get them) and just drag them into the browser window. See picture below:

addbookmarklet.jpg

What I did think would be useful is to run down which bookmarklets I use, as this tends to be informed by “academic interests.” (From left to right—see first picture above.) Continued after the jump.

  • Highlighter: This one brings up a pop up window into which I type a search term and it highlights all of the words that match that term on a given page. This is better than find as I don’t have to keep click through to find the next one.
  • Zap Plug-Ins: As it says, “zaps” plug-ins. So if you are viewing a site that has audio or video content that you want to stop from running, click this and it disables anything that needs a plug-in. This works just on the current page, so is easier then disabling it for all the pages you are viewing.
  • Zap Images:: Same as above, but just gets rid of all the images on a page, leaving just the text.
  • Pukka: As I mentioned above, this one posts to delicious. If you are not on a Mac, or don’t need the power this application offers, just get the bookmarklet offered by deli.cio.us.
  • achack post: This is a WordPress specific tool (WordPress is the program used to run this blog). Clicking on this one opens a window to write a post to Academhack linked to the current page. So, if I see something I want to post to Academhack on another site, I just click this one.
  • Devon: This folder contains to bookmarklets (yes you can group bookmarklets into folders), one to add a bookmark to Devon with the current web site, the other to add an archive of the current site to Devon. This is super useful if you are using Firefox or any browser that doesn’t allow you to Take Rich Note.
  • Search Other: This folder contains bookmarklets for yahoo, altavista, google etc. Basically if I run a search on one of these for a term, say “Grilled Cheese,” I can click these bookmarklets and see the search result for the same term, but in a different search engine. I don’t use this a great deal as I use Devon Agent mostly, but they are still nice to have handy.
  • Internet Tools: This is where most of my important ones are. There are eight in this folder:
    • Zap Colors-gets rid of all the colors on a page, makes it easier to read
    • Page Color to White-sometimes the above doesn’t work, and then I use this one. You know those annoying web sites you can’t read because of their color choices, this fixes that. And also you can zap the colors before selecting the text to copy and paste it elsewhere so you do not have blue and purple text. (Again very useful for Devon.)
    • Change Text Color-Like the above, but allows one to change a specific text color rather than just to get rid of them, or make black and white.
    • Bug Me Not-avoid entering passwords on free registration sites.
    • List Email Links-rather than searching around on a site for the email link to contact the person, click this bookmarklet and get the link quickly.
    • Open All Links-Opens in tabs all pages to which the current page links.
    • List All Links-Like the above, but a list rather than opening them in tabs.
    • Reveal Password-Sometime my browser automatically fills in a password for a site I visit, but I forget what the password I have been using is. Click this to see the password (doesn’t always work, but often enough that it is useful).
  • Tiny Url: This takes a long URL and makes it short. Useful for emailing links which are really long. Use this which will shorten the link length—say for example Amazon.
  • co.mments: I use this to track all the places I have commented on others blogs. Supremely Useful! See this Gearfire post about co.mments. (Although the post uses a firefox plugin rather than a bookmarklet.)
  • Email Link: Okay so this one doesn’t appear in the picture, but that is because Omni has this feature built in, but when I use Firefox I have this bookmarklet in the bar, makes it easy to email someone a link to the current page.