Offline is the New Online

Image representing Google Gears Up as depicted...
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Web 2.0 has beguiled us to forsake our old offline apps and turn to the online cloud for more and more of our data needs. CNET’s Buzz Out Loud podcast proclaimed that “Offline is the New Online” when Google Gears came out in 2008. Our email files are no longer downloaded into a desktop app like Outlook via POP3– now we get a browser’s eye view of our data on a remote server in real time. Netbooks, stripped down laptops whose appeal relies largely on web-based applications, are the new hot devices. Our newspaper companies are going bankrupt as we favor online RSS readers, but what about when we go offline?

I have started taking the Bay Area’s underground BART train to work, and ever since I have been obsessed with finding offline ways to work with my data. Especially RSS feeds, email, and twitter links are a challenge to work with, but I wonder what other online/offline travails people are having?

I tried syncing my Google Reader with Google’s Gears plugin and found that RSS feeds often link out to the originating site for the full story. This led me to research which news sites have full-text enabled RSS feeds, and I only found a few (including the, Gawker websites like Lifehacker and io9, and some WordPress-powered blogs).

I’m starting to get into syncing my Thunderbird and/or Gmail for offline use, but I’m often thwarted when I receive links to outside sites whose content I cannot view. Twitter would be another great service to read on the train, but again, the links are half the fun.

I am discovering that there are a whole host of interesting Adobe Air Apps that specialize in giving you offline access to your online data. I just used Flump to download my Flickr library, Netbook to access Project Gutenberg offline, and Birdie to see my Twitter tweets offline.

Are you also interested in seeing your online data when you are stuck underground? How do you go about connecting with the online world?

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Written by

Ted Curran is a Learning Experience Designer/Developer for Autodesk. He is committed to empowering educators and learners to create transformational change through effective pedagogy and technology integration. You can follow Ted on Mastodon, LinkedIn or learn more at my 'About" page. These thoughts are my own.

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