Tuesday, June 30, 2009

T2 – A Guide to Current and Emerging Technology

The discussion at our midyear meeting inspired new member, John Stevens, to think about how we can use new media for technology transfer. Be sure to read his thoughts and reflections about each technology.


A blog (a contraction of the term "weblog") is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketches (sketchblog), videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), and audio (podcasting). Micro-blogging is another type of blogging, featuring very short posts. [such as Twitter]

Personal Opinion
Blogs are great for spreading ideas about a specific subject and beginning a discussion. Ideas can be put forward and the ability to leave comments allows other people to find flaws in arguments or connect other ideas. Blogs are often public forums, though they can be restricted to a specific set of individuals.

Blogs can be useful to organizations internally to let staff know of changes in direction, the status of projects or to bestow recognition for a job well done.
Blogs can also be great for letting the public know about what things are happening within an organization and allow for public comment.


A wiki is a website that uses wiki software, allowing the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked Web pages, using a simplified markup language or aWYSIWYG text editor, within the browser. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis. Wikis are used in business to provide intranet and knowledge management systems

Personal Opinion
As stated above Wikis are great for collaborative projects, where multiple people can access documents and make changes or add comments.


RSS (most commonly translated as "Really Simple Syndication") is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a "feed", "web feed", or "channel") includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship. Web feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favored websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place. RSS feeds can be read using software called an "RSS reader", "feed reader", or "aggregator", which can be web-based, desktop-based, or mobile-device-based. [Look to the right of this posting to sign up for an RSS feed from this blog.]

Personal Opinion
RSS feeds are wonderful for people who want to keep up with a lot of continuously changing websites, like newspapers or blogs. Usually only a headline is displayed and if the headline looks interesting then clicking on the headline will open the full article.

The other great thing about RSS programs is that usually they will know when you have already looked at an article and it will not appear next time you open the program, even if you are using a different machine.


A podcast is a series of digital computer files, usually either digital audio or video, that is released periodically and made available for download. by means of web syndication.
The syndication aspect of the delivery is what differentiates podcasts from other ways of accessing files, such as simple download or streaming: it means that special client software applications known as podcatchers (such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes or Nullsoft's Winamp) can automatically identify and retrieve new files in a given series when they are made available, by accessing a centrally-maintained web feed that lists all files currently associated with that particular series. New files can thus be downloaded automatically by the podcatcher and stored locally on the user's computer or other device for offline use, making it simpler for the user to download content that is released episodically.

Like the term broadcast, podcast can refer either to the content itself or to the method by which the content is syndicated; the latter is also called podcasting. A podcaster is the person who creates the content.

The term is a portmanteau of the words "iPod" and "broadcast", the Apple iPod being the brand of portable media player for which early podcasting scripts were developed (see history of podcasting), allowing podcasts to be automatically transferred from a personal computer to a mobile device after download. Despite the source of the name, it has never been necessary to use an iPod, or any other form of portable media player, to use podcasts; the content can be accessed using any computer capable of playing media files. As more mobile devices other than iPods became able to synchronize with podcast feeds, a backronym developed where podcast stood for "Personal On Demand broadCAST."

Personal Opinion
Podcasts are very much like blogs, in that they contain content that is continually being updated. As stated above most podcasts are audio or video files and can be carried on portable devices like iPods, or other MP3 players.

My favorite place to get podcasts is iTunesU which has recordings of university lectures and other similar programs from around the world available for free.

Social Networks

A social network service focuses on building online communities of people who share interests and/or activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others. Most social network services are web based and provide a variety of ways for users to interact, such as e-mail and instant messaging services.

Social networking has encouraged new ways to communicate and share information. Social networking websites are being used regularly by millions of people.

While it could be said that email and websites have most of the essential elements of social network services, the idea of proprietary encapsulated services has gained popular uptake recently.

The main types of social networking services are those which contain category divisions (such as former school-year or classmates), means to connect with friends (usually with self-description pages) and a recommendation system linked to trust. Popular methods now combine many of these, with Facebook widely used worldwide; MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn being the most widely used in North America.
  • Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read each others' updates, known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters, displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to other users - known as followers - who have subscribed to them. Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications. The service is free over the Internet, but using SMS may incur phone service provider fees.
  • Facebook is a free-access social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region to connect and interact with other people. People can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. The website currently has more than 200 million active users worldwide. It has also been banned at many places of work to discourage employees from wasting time using the service. Users over the age of 40 are the fastest growing demographic joining Facebook.
  • LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site founded in December 2002 and launched in May 2003 mainly used for professional networking. As of May 2009, it had more than 40 million registered users, spanning 170 industries.
Personal Opinion
The different social network sites are good for different things; I once read an article the compared LinkIn to talking after a business meeting, Facebook to a cocktail party and MySpace to an all night rave. So depending on the reason for using social networking sites should, in part, determine how you present yourself.

The T2 committee has a page on both LinkedIn and Facebook.

Twitter has been getting a lot of press lately. I have tried to figure out how best to utilize it for something worthwhile. Twitters primary use is that responses are returned in real time. Because of that fact I think that the best use of Twitter would be to ask a direct question to a large group of professionals with expertise in that area. This could be used as a more targeted form of “crowd sourcing” or using technology to quickly receive the wisdom of the crowd to any given problem.

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging (IM) is a collection of technologies that create the possibility of real-time text-based communication between two or more participants over the internet or some form of internal network/intranet. It is important to understand that what separates chat and instant messaging from technologies such as e-mail is the perceived synchronicity of the communication by the user - Chat happens in real-time. Some systems allow the sending of messages to people not currently logged on (offline messages), thus removing much of the difference between Instant Messaging and e-mail.

IM allows effective and efficient communication, featuring immediate receipt of acknowledgment or reply. In certain cases Instant Messaging involves additional features, which make it even more popular, i.e. to see the other party, e.g. by using web-cams, or to talk directly for free over the Internet.

It is possible to save a conversation for later reference. Instant messages are typically logged in a local message history which closes the gap to the persistent nature of e-mails and facilitates quick exchange of information like URLs or document snippets (which can be unwieldy when communicated via telephone).

Google Wave

Google Wave is "a personal communication and collaboration tool" announced by Google at the Google I/O conference, on 27 May 2009. It is a web based service and computing platform designed to merge e-mail, instant messaging, wiki, and social networking. It has a strong collaborative and real-time focus supported by robust spelling/grammar checking, automated translation between 40 languages, and numerous other extensions. It is expected to be released later in 2009.


YouTube is a video sharing website on which users can upload and share videos


Flickr is an image and video hosting website, web services suite, and online community platform. In addition to being a popular Web site for users to share personal photographs, the service is widely used by bloggers as a photo repository.[2] As of June 2009, it claims to host more than 3.6 billion images[3], up from 3 billion in November of 2008


Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as photographs, video, websites, orRSS feeds and is a form of geospatial metadata. These data usually consist of latitude and longitude coordinates, though they can also include altitude, bearing, accuracy data, and place names.

Most, if not all of these services are becoming prevalent on mobile devices like iPods and cell phones. What this means is that the opportunity to share information can happen anywhere and anytime. This ability could help or hinder anything from public involvement to data collection. By knowing about these services we should be able to promote better organizational policy to show people what we do, why we do it and if appropriate invite them to participate.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Meet new member - John Stevens

John Stevens is a transportation planner at Wilbur Smith Associates. John recently graduated from the University of Utah with a Masters of City and Metropolitan Planning, with an emphasis in demographics and transportation planning. Prior to entering the planning field John worked a few years as a field archaeologist in the Great Basin with a small consulting company. John holds a BS in Anthropology and History.
John’s professional goal is to become involved with implementing effective policy dealing with the integration of transportation economics and land use in developing nations that fits with the cultural context of the area.

As to technology transfer and the committee, I want to more effectively utilize existing and emerging delivery systems to disseminate knowledge of and about transportation, transportation systems, and their effect on populations.

Meet new member - Sue Lodahl

Sue Lodahl is the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Assistant Maintenance Engineer. She has just recently returned to the Office of Maintenance and assumed this position in February, 2009. Prior to that she was the Director of Research Services for a four years. She has been with Mn/DOT for 25 years and has held other positions within Mn/DOT including State Lighting Engineer and Maintenance Operations and Training Engineer. Lodahl is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and is a registered professional engineer in the State of Minnesota.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Educational opportunities

June 25, 2009, 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT: Leveraging the Power of the Internet: Research Scanning Using RSS FHWA Research Web Conference

The workshop will provide a basic understanding and competency in the features and functionality of two free Really Simple Syndication (RSS) Readers.
Link to join web conference: http://fhwa.na3.acrobat.com/powerofinternet/ and teleconference, number to access audio portion: 800-988-0375, 14202
For more information, please contact EAR Librarian Lance Warren at Lance.Warren@fhwa.dot.gov or 202-493-3123 or EAR Program Manager David Kuehn at david.kuehn@dot.gov or 202-493-3414

July 13, 2009, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. EDT: How to Write an Effective Research Statement

Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/798836768 Whether you’re a DOT practitioner, consultant or university researcher, it’s always a challenge to find funding for needed research. The TRB Conduct of Research Committee has put together some resources for you to consider, beginning with a critical first step in obtaining funds: Writing an effective research statement.

In this Webinar you will hear practical guidance from a TRB senior program officer who has reviewed many a project statement – the good, the bad, and the ugly. You will also hear the perspectives of two successful proposers whose project statements were compelling enough to receive funding. Speakers will discuss topics that include: Coming up with a good title, convincing reviewers the research is critical, succinctly stating the objective, clearly and honestly identifying the benefits, and explaining how the results will be put to use. Discussion will be encouraged among presenters, and Webinar participants will have the opportunity to ask questions. Presenters for this session include:
  • Patrick Casey, CTC & Associates, Moderator. “Resources from the TRB Conduct of Research Committee”
  • Christopher Hedges, TRB Senior Program Officer. “How to Write an Effective Research Statement”
  • Randall Wade, Wisconsin Department of Transportation. “Relating Your Research Need to a Pressing National Issue”
  • William R. “Randy” Cox, American Segmental Bridge Institute. “Working Through AASHTO to Meet DOT Needs”
  • Gail D’Avino, Georgia Department of Transportation. “Persistence Does Make a Difference.”
Registration: There is no fee for TRB Sponsors, listed here: http://www.trb.org/directory/sponsors.asp. Others must pay $99 per site. Space is limited, so please register in advance.

For questions about using this software, including webinar audio or visual complications, please contact Reggie Gillum at rgillum@nas.edu or 202-334-2382.