I often come across some sites that list 100 “great tools” for “this” and a 100 “great tools” for “that” and “the other thing.” Don’t get me wrong! I like lists like these, but for a moment, I felt like I was channeling for the archetypal “newbie” — I was overwhelmed, not sure even where to start, and felt like giving up.
The fact is that IT IS overwhelming! There are so many tools and ways to do the same sorts of things. Furthermore, when you start to pull together some favorite tools, you want them to work together. Add in the desire to collaborate with others and the complexity grows even more!
I don’t have a simple solution, but I do have a few rules of thumb:
- Make sure the tool is easy to use. (Depending on the perceived value of a tool, if I can’t get a basic “hang of it” in 10 minutes or so, I fire it. 🙂
- Make sure that the presentational “outputs” are as flexible as possible and will be easily view-able by your audience.
- If you suggest to someone else using a tool for collaboration, be sure that you understand the tool well, have used it a bunch and that you are committed (at least going steady if not married to it).
So you might ask, “Will, what’s in your Digital Toolbelt?” That’s a fair question. I don’t have a definite answer because I try lots of things and I am often swapping one for another. But here are some that seem enduring right now.
- Jing. I use this almost daily for capturing images and creating quick screencast movies.
- Format Factory. Sometimes you have to convert videos to different formats.
- Twitter. I am not a hyper-tweeter, but I try to keep my “ear to the ground” through twitter. I prefer tweetdeck for my twitter client software.
- Google Reader. The only way I have a chance to keep up with the blogs I find interesting.
- Paint.net. I also use Photoshop, but Paint.net is free and pretty robust. I also use Picasa from Google for simple image enhancements.
- Vimeo. There are a lot of video-sharing websites, but I prefer Vimeo.
- Audacity. This is what I use to edit audio. I like the online audio editor, Myna, from aviary.com also.
- Video Editor. I don’t have a favorite. I use AVS Video Editor and Windows Movie Maker when I have to.
Presentation Tools: (These are tools that I use to make presentations. I don’t have favorites and there isn’t one “killer app.” I use whatever seems to make the most sense given the content that I want to present.)
So, what’s in your digital toolbelt? What are the tools you can’t live without?