Last week I did a workshop on iGoogle for personal and professional information gathering. Then, boom!, there was a national health emergency declared. I was receiving all kinds of emails from the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health and National Library of Medicine. The emails are all chock full of links and widgets and information, and say please help us get the word out. Well, I thought, why not iGoogle? So I did.
iGoogle Tab: Swine Flu Information Tracking: http://tinyurl.com/dg7s38
I already posted this much over at the UM Health Sciences Libraries blog (Swine Flu Information via iGoogle Tab. Information on how to add the iGoogle tab to your account is in that post. For the readers of this blog, I’d like to talk a little more about what went into it.
iGoogle’s strength is really in collecting gadgets/widgets, RSS feeds, media, information sources; allowing us to brand or create a custom look and feel for the ensemble; and then putting it all right in front of our faces where we live.
Step 1: I started by looking for existing iGoogle gadgets in the areas of public health, disaster planning/response, and influenza. I also browsed everything I could find from the CDC and NIH, selecting from that set.
Step 2: I looked for RSS feeds to include. These included official RSS feeds from the same sources as well as other sources (such as the World Health Organization, HealthMap and Vertect). I made sure to include Twitter feeds where possible, since I found the main rss feeds from places such as the WHO tended to be laggy and didn’t always work if you had a slow connection speed for your network.
Step 3: I actually did this last, but it should have come sooner in the process, so I am putting it where it SHOULD have gone. Here I looked for CDC videos on influenza in general and swine flu in particular, then made a YouTube gadget to drop in. iGoogle has a few tools for building quick gadgets of certain types. A short playlist of YouTube videos is one of the easiest. I also took the CDC page on flu prevention and put those items in the iGoogle list generator.
Step 4: Look and feel. I made a theme. I started by looking for a theme, but I still find it hard to find good professional appearing themes for many medical topics. I looked at a pig, but decided that was too cute. Instead, I hunted in the Public Health Image Library (PHIL) for images of swine flu, took one of those, and snipped from it to create the thematic image used as the banner.
To share this with others, in the tab edit menu there is an option for Share. Following the instructions in that, I sent myself an email with the link, including my own settings, clicked on it, and copied the link from that browser window to use in the HTML coding.
I hope this helps other also make use of this useful tool for rapid dissemination of information resources.