August 13, 2006

Finally getting around to Flock

It's true. Flock is the best browser I have ever used - for the moment - and has given me some ideas. Chris Messina had shown me a rather unpromising holding page way back in December at Les Blogs, but the way he and Tara had gone on (and on... ;-) about it I knew it would be worth a shot.

There are two things that have made me take a look now, though.

a) I have some time as Mrs Edublogger gets all domesticated and bakes cakes (yes, it's true)

b) I am struggling to get my head around how we are going to let East Lothian teachers do their job and cope with creating and consuming larger amounts of information over the next few years. I've been convinced for a while that central portals are not the way to go, and the current research seems to back this up. But how do you tailor-make a delivery service when the users don't know what a delivery service (RSS) is?

If only we could get everyone on Flock this year then the sting would be taken out the problem. Why?

  • RSS: It's a doddle to add pre-defined RSS feeds to your online reader - drag and drop
  • Image-sharing: It's a doddle blah, blah, blah - drag and drop
  • Blogging: you get the idea - drag, drop and everything from the same page or menu, without every having to go to a blogging application (people always get confused between the front end of a blog (, for example) and the backend where all the work goes in. Here, it appears only as if you have a front end - confusion over.
  • Bookmark sharing: bookmarks are off and online, a concept that most people can get their heads around. It's amazing how many folk this past year have not liked the idea of having all their bookmarks online, in a place they can't see and feel. Flock gives a compromise.
  • Adding other elements (files, pics, audio...) to blog posts or someone else's web pages: drag and drop. I've yet to try this out to see and believe it, but I like the idea that they are listening to what people have to say.

I know that some edubloggers have raved about Flock and already gone back to Firefox. Old habits etc, etc. But I'm going to give a prolonged shot at using this bit of kit to see if it makes my life easier. And gives me more time to cook...

Update: Flock also have the best customer service I've seen from a browser.

Blogged with Flock


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I've been using Flock since before the summer. It seems to work great on my PC and Mac and I would definitely recommend it as my preferred browser. See you soon. Ollie

Good to hear from you. One of the possible hurdles we'll have is keeping Flock up-to-date on school computers - no IT support worker enjoys reinstalling or updating software on each classroom machine. Maybe we'll have to take a basic (non-beta) version when it comes out and then stick with it for a while before making a more major upgrade. Who knows? Something to get to the bottom of.

Looking forward to working with you at MGS in a few weeks.

What do 'doddle' and 'doddle blah' mean?


An easy thing.

I've been using Flock for 4 or 5 months now Ewan, and don't see myself returning to Firefox/Safari. All the features you mention work for me except the blogging tool - buts thats only because I like more formating than I can get from within Flock. RSS is great - users dont need to know about RSS/aggregators/feeds - just click the button to subscribe, just as it should be. And the snippets tool across the bottom is very cool, too.

I tried Flock, but as far as I could see, most of the stuff I wanted to do I could already do in Firefox. The strong links with Flickr were interesting, but I preferred working in Flickr itself. Firefox's built-in RSS seems just as good, I use a plug in to create blog entries in Firefox that I find more flexible than Flock's way of doing things and I didn't like the way Flock did bookmarks.

Maybe it was a case of better the devil you know... maybe I just didn't spend long enough with Flock... but I'm still using Firefox. I always meant to do a follow up post on what I liked and didn't like and why I went back to Firefox... Maybe I'll have a go at it soon. :-)

Hey Ewan, glad to hear you're enjoying Flock! Looking forward to hearing more as you experiment further, please feel free to email me if you have any questions, etc.

I did some work in the edublogging space with weblogs@upei and weblogs@BCIT projects, I heard a lot of need for a single piece of software that educators could get their students using to start experimenting with different parts of the social web.

For keeping Flock up to date on school computers, we do have an auto-update feature that we inherited from Firefox. But it's a little more complicated in a school environment where students and their computers may not have permission to download and execute the update. Perhaps IT could give some insight?


Will Pate
Community Ambassador, Flock

How cool is that? You blog about a piece of software and the "Community Ambassador" leaves a comment on your blog! Brilliant. I wonder... if I blog about Internet Explorer, do you think Bill might drop by my blog? :-)

You would have to say IE is the best blogger David, could you do that?

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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