Blame Catbird and NowVoyager for this one.
We have something new, and unique. Forums are great, but they have their limitations. When a thread grows to be several pages long, it is difficult to wade through it and we miss important information.
Jason has created an interactive web page that can be customized for any subject - for breaking news, for topics of general interest, for special events, even just for fun.
Hurricane coming? All interested parties can gather in one spot and share information. War breaks out? Gather together and watch the news feeds. Want to have a movie night? Set up a YT movie and all meet in the chatroom for popcorn and critique the show. Have information you would like to share with others? Set up a special event - add links, and videos, and give a presentation and answer questions. This has a lot of very cool possibilities!
Here's how it works.
When you connect to http://thisbluemarble.com/breaking
you will see a list of subjects. To start, we have set up Crazy Cats, Syria, Sandusky, and Hurricanes. Eventually we will have a lot more. But for right now, choose one from the list. You will go to a page that currently has four sections - a chatbox, YouTube videos, an RSS newsfeed, and links to urls.
The content (besides the chat window) is specific for the chat topic you selected. This means if you picked "Hurricanes", you will see youtube videos posted from the hurricane topic. The RSS feed will load only hurricane stories. If you switch to Syria, you will see only content on that topic.
The Chatbox - ALL users share the same chat, no matter which subject you selected. Don't look for separate chats for each subject. There is only ONE. Some people in the chat might be looking at Crazy Cats, some might be looking at news about Syria, some might be tracking the latest hurricane. You can all talk to each other, no matter what subject matter you're viewing.
You can "float" the chatbox - so if you decide to go back to the forums, the chatbox can float outside of your browser window and you will be able to see if anyone joins.
All commands are done in the chatbox. This is important, because YOU can add links and YouTube videos to whatever page you are viewing.
The RSS feed - below the chatbox is an automated list of news items that comes to us via an RSS feed. This should keep us up to date with any breaking news story.
YouTube videos - the YT videos are stacked on the right side of the page. The last one added is the largest on top. Others are shown as thumbnails underneath. Click on the one you want to watch. It will open in a pop up window that is confined to the web page (unlike the chatbox, this does not "float" outside of your browser, and if you close the page it will disappear). You can also choose to watch it on the YouTube website by clicking the YT icon at the bottom of the box, or enlarge it to cover your desktop by clicking the enlarge icon at the bottom of the box. I am sure you're familiar with both.
To ADD a new YouTube video, you need to know the YT code. The url of the video should look something like this: http:// www. youtube. com/watch?v=BZREq9dRTo4
The group of numbers after the = is the YT code. (YT does not always follow the same url format, but there is always a video specific code in there after the = and before any embed or other code. You will learn to identify it easily.) To add that video to the list of YT videos on the page, type in the chatbox: /YouTube BZREq9dRTo4 There is a slight delay, then your video will appear as the top featured video.
Links - below the YouTube video section you will find LINKS. You know how links work - click on the link to go to the website. If you want to add a new link to the list, in the chatbox type: /link url text for example, /link http://thisbluemarble.com
The Best Website Ever! There is a slight delay and then the link is added to the top of the list. If you made a mistake, click the red X next to the link, and then try /link whatever whatever again... the old link is deleted when a new one is posted.
If you want to move from one subject to another, click on Breaking News Chat in the menu above the chatbox and choose another subject.
Jason and I can add subjects. If you want a subject created, let us know. Once it is in the list anyone can add content (links and YT videos). So, if you want to set up a page for "1900 House" with YouTube videos of the series and links to information and skills from that time, we can get you started. (Are you getting ideas yet?)
I want to thank Jason for creating this for us. He took an idea suggested by Catbird and NowVoyager, and ran with it. I am amazed at the way he is adding improvement after improvement and building something really special. I only hope we can generate enough interest and take advantage of our new feature. It is not meant to replace our discussion forums, but to supplement them in the same way our library and arcade add to the community.
If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions, don't be shy!