Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Staying on task and Muckrock

This week, I'm taking a look at some browsers extensions that can help you stay focused, and a fascinating website devoted to helping people make FOI requests.

Let's face it, you've probably got something important that needs to be finished soon! Maybe you're at TAFE or University and have a bunch of assignments to finish. Maybe you have had take some work home with you, or maybe you're writing up selection criteria. It's hard to keep focused though, not when there's a social media feed to keep on top of, or cat videos you still haven't watched.

One trick you can try to keep yourself on track is to install a browser extension that will block websites for a set amount of time, giving you the opportunity to get some quality work done. Chrome and Firefox both have these available in their web stores.
For Chrome, the most popular tool is called StayFocused and for Firefox users, LeechBlock  is very popular too. So if you need some quality time without distraction, try one of these apps out.

I recently stumbled upon an intriguing website called Muckrock, which was created to help not only journalists, researchers and activists, but regular folks find out about the activities of US Government agencies through Freedom of Information Requests. Muckrock guides its users through the process, helping them narrow down their requests and other specifics. Assignments are even offered to people to earn free requests.

While some of the requests that are approved are quite humourous, such as the infamous CIA cafeteria complaints and an FBI guide to twitter shorthand, the majority of requests that are submitted relate to serious matters of public interest.

I find it fascinating how it appears to be some one on the internet who is able to help you find the information you're after!

-Caitlin Williams

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