The Cool Tools feature is taking a long weekend with the rest of us so it's making its holiday splash today. This week in Cool Tools I explore ways that we can leverage social applications to plan for a fun and festive Fourth of July celebration.
Most people start their planning with a phone call or email to family and friends. Then there are those of us who some might say rely too heavily on social networking. If you're looking to just complement your already existing plans or you still need to figure out something fun to do, this list should help:
FacebookI'm not suggesting going around to everyone's walls and posting "What are you doing tomorrow?" Facebook's pretty intuitive Events application allows you to not only see what your friends are up to but also do a search for activities in your area. I found a lot of great events in my neck of the woods, everything from backyard barbecues to concerts and festivals. The specific search terms that yielded the best results were "Fourth of July," "4th of July," "barbecue" and "BBQ." I imagine one could do something similar with MySpace as well.
A location-based social networking site, BrightKite is great for syncing holiday plans. Say you're at a festival with friends who all arrive in separate cars. If you're all connected via BrightKite one of you can send a text to the service with his or her exact location, automatically notifying everyone in your group. Plus, BrightKite will let you upload pictures directly from your cell phone so you can taunt your friends at home. There's even an application that integrates BrightKite into your Twitter feed. If abused, BrightKite could be a scary tool, so do set your permissions to only show your trusted friends your exact location.
Upcoming is a localized events listing that allows you to see who is going to an event, peruse their profiles and either see if you have any common interests with the other attendees -- or maybe find another event that you share. A simple click on the "Festivals" link took me to a nice listing of Fourth of July activities in the San Francisco Bay Area (register first and enter your zip code to find similar results).
What's great about FriendFeed is that it allows you to search for holiday-related items and activities within your trusted network. Since your FriendFeed aggregates your friends' favorite content from all over the socialsphere, you get a pretty good mix of blogs and events related to the holiday. As an experiment I did a search for "Fourth of July" on the public feed and received a lot of interesting results, from blogs and pictures about the best food for the holiday and even the best way to take photos of fireworks.
Yes, Mashable. It's not a social networking site or a social application but boy, does it ever keep up on what's new and hot. Yesterday Sean P. Aune wrote an impressive recap of the 20+ Tools for the Best Fourth of July Ever. While in this article he doesn't list social applications or social networking sites, he does list helpful content sites in categories such as food, crafts and decorations, fireworks and history. Use this article as a resource for finding recipes (such as a flag-decorated cake) or finding the best local fireworks (if chasing your friends around the social Web doesn't work out).
If you're still overwhelmed by determining what to do, or you have small children that need to be tucked away by dark, or you're just too tired from the work week, enjoy this video courtesy of YouTube.
Have a great holiday!
Have a cool social media tool that you want me to check out? Email socialmediatools SHIFT 2 gmail DOT com.