Facebook announced last week that the service FriendFeed would be shut down in April. I was a FriendFeed user, I even used to have a link to it here on the Skeptic History page – for those who wanted to see the daily history posts using that service. But it’s been increasingly less useful as it has been supplanted by newer services like Twitter and Facebook itself.
As we use online tools to achieve specific goals, we must be mindful that they do disappear like this. It’s always wise to have a good idea what benefit you are getting from which tools, and which alternatives are available should one disappear.
Let’s take a moment to consider a few tools that have disappeared recently, why that happens and some good strategies for might replacing them.
To force myself to write more, and because I much enjoy the daily posts at Research Buzz and CFI’s Morning Heresy, I thought I would start doing a daily post of news about tools and technologies of interest to skeptics. This will be a daily digest of interesting tools and techniques that have come to light recently.
In the US the Presidential election is dominating all the news. Much has been written about media bias in news sources. Do you limit yourself to sources that agree with your existing political opinions? A new Chrome browser plugin called Balancer might help you break out of your bubble. It was created by a University of Washington researcher Sean Munson.
Despite repeated protestations of “Big Pharma shill!” from alternative medicine proponents, there never seems to be much money in skepticism. Most skeptic projects are done as hobbies by individuals. When money is needed for certain projects we tend to have fundraisers or do some begging. Even our national non-profit umbrella organizations have fairly small budgets as these things go.
As an example of that, the team behind The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, probably the top skeptic podcast with over 100,000 listeners in a given week, recently needed to use a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter to assemble the budget for new series of videos they wanted to produce. They were quite successful, reaching almost twice their original goal by the end of the campaign.
Crowdfunding is one of several new methods I recommend to skeptics looking to fund new projects. I have written about other techniques to fund projects here at the blog as well.
This month two new potential sources of cash for skeptics and skeptic projects have appeared. One is an old-fashioned non-profit that is offering small grants. The other is a unique new twist that combines elements of crowdfunding, crowdsourcing and competitive prizes.