Web Tools That Don't Suck!

Sometimes I find web apps that are so useful I want to share them with everyone I know. Unfortunately, I turn around in my "office" and no one is listening...because they're not there. So I'm listing some tools that I've found this week. Others I've known about and thought I'd add them in. If you like this post, please comment below! I might make this a weekly thing. Focus on just cool computer apps. Start a new blog. Who knows? Apologies in advance for sounding like an infomercial. 


Hoot Suite--There are several Twitter/Facebook decks/dashboards--whatever you call 'em--but I think this one works particularly well if you're managing several accounts. I won't go into too much detail because it's fairly popular. The biggest selling point? You can schedule tweets and Facebook posts. No more posting too long automated tweets that look silly and robot-like (and that no one will read, anyway). No more ill-timed Facebook/Twitter posts (post at the time your audience reads the most, say noon, not midnight). With Hoot Suite you can write it, schedule it in one place, and be done! Yay! Thanks to the friend (Piet) who showed this to me.


Submishmash-- Oh my goodness. This rocks. So you want to start a magazine? Or a literary arts journal? Maybe you need submissions? But you don't want to get bogged down in e-mail. Why not create a cloud-based account with Submishmash to manage all your submissions. You can then accept and deny the submissions on your end of the program. With Submishmash you can filters submissions based on type--meaning you can filter all of your text, audio, image, and video file submissions when you want to narrow them down. People who submit must create an account with Submishmash and the rest is fairly easy. As they say, "No IT guy required." And for those that are of the art-mindedness, Submishmash is free! That's right, free! 


Apture-- "If you are a blog or website with less than five million page views per month, then Apture is free!" Phew, just made the cutoff. So what is Apture? Well, this is something mostly for newspapers and news-oriented sites. But then I can see many uses for it with magazines and blogs as well. Here is the company's gobbledygook: "Apture is a service that allows bloggers and publishers to layer in nearly all media from across the web into their sites with one click. By transforming flat web pages into connected multimedia experiences readers can..." blah blah blah. Here. Say you have a story online. A reader spots a word they don't know--maybe it's a person, a place or a definition. They can highlight the word, click search and Apture will retrieve related Wiki articles, videos and images, without ever leaving the page. A bar can also pop up at the top of the screen so readers can share to Twitter and Facebook and even send articles through email. 


Read It Later-- You think long-form journalism is dead? Think again! Many of my journalist friends probably have read this article from Poynter and know all about this. Reading a long piece of journalism kind of sucks when you're online. Admit it. But what's frustrating is not finishing the article as you would normally do with a magazine. The solution? Save it. This little ditty goes right in your bookmarks bar. Click it when you want to save an article. Log back in and pick up where you left off. For a $5 account, you can also get a "Digest" that organizes your articles. Also, kudos to Longform.org for some nice selections. Instapaper looks great too. Another tool? Readability (Thanks Chelsea). Read all those long-form articles without any distraction. I love this thing. Goes in your bookmarks bar as well. For your reading/saving pleasure--read this article from the Nieman Journalism Lab. 


Tumblr--I feel so out of the loop for not being savvy to this. News organizations have their own Tumblrs. Many of them. The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, The NationLife, etc. etc. Yes. So, everyone else, get savvy. Now, I know this isn't really a tool. But, it's a tool as far as the web goes and as far as journalism goes. Here's another riveting article form the Nieman Journalism Lab. 


Outbrain--I recently found this app and it's so simple. If you have content and have been struggling with those "You might also like" widgets--Outbrain does the work for you. Honestly, if you have to manually enter in articles someone might like, there is no point, right? How many articles can you remember? Another benefit to Outbrain is it shows the related posts with attractive thumbnails. Plus, there are added stats for you to track links. This, as they say, is a no-brainer.  

All right! So, that's it for this time. Maybe I'll keep this up. Tell me what you think. Has this helped anyone? Let me know, please!