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October 09, 2007

New @ Google?

A few things...

First, Street View, the somewhat controversial service that embeds a recent snapshot within Google Maps, has added a handful of new cities. In Philly, I found my old building and was able to explore the street where I used to go grocery shopping:

And the rush hour traffic my dad typically faces coming home from work in Chicago:

Second, Google Labs is continuing to modify and enhance its search interface. Here are three new tricks to try:

The view:map command will cross-reference your search terms with a Google Map. Try this: Hillary Clinton view:map. You'll wind up with red pegs on a map for Park Ridge, IL (childhood biography), Chappaqua, NY (Hillary's MySpace page), and New York (Wikipedia).

The view:info command will return results for dates, measurements, locations and images. Try this: Hillary Clinton view:info. It'll highlight dates and measurements in the search results. (You'll mainly find ages for measurements, but clearly this would work better for other kinds of searches.)

The view:timeline command will refocus your search returns by date. Try this: Hillary Clinton view:timeline:

If Google doesn't automatically allow you to try these searches, click here and sign in.

August 22, 2007

PolyCola: Split-screen searching

From Arbel Hakopian, the maker of GahooYoogle, comes PolyCola - a super-charged dual search engine interface.

The name is bizarre, but the site works beautifully. Mix and match Google, Yahoo, Windows Live, Ask, Dogpile, Altavista and (inexplicably) AOL Search. You can even narrow results further by searching only news, video, web, images, etc. Standard Boolean definitions work, too. Oh, and there's a Firefox extension to boot.

June 21, 2007

SearchCrystal: Pretty cool alt-search engine visualization tool

I've found SearchCrystal, which is an alternative search engine visualization tool. Rather than displaying results as a textual list, you'll get images, videos or both.

You can compare, "remix" and share results from multiple search engines. Still in beta, SearchCrystal is more meta-search engine than anything else, but I gotta admit...the results are pretty cool.

Here's what I found searching on Clive Owen. Notice that I saved this as a widget, embedded it on my site and enabled you to share it via email or embedding on your own site...

Is it necessary? Nah. But lately I'm researching semantic search systems, visualization tools and creative methods of displaying information online. Reminds me of BuzzTracker and KoolTorch. There are many obvious uses in journalism... especially within citizen/ community areas of established msm sites.

June 15, 2007

MyDigimedia Toolbar Updates

I've updated the MyDigimedia toolbar with new features, RSS feeds and tipsheets. Click on the "refresh" tab under the MyDigimedia icon.

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June 14, 2007

Sputtr It!

I've discovered Sputtr. Obviously it's an innovative Web 2.0 tool - it's missing a vowel!

Sarcasm aside, I like this search tool. It's a simple way to search a variety of unique places at once: Stumble, Google Groups, Furl, Digg, Newsvine, LastFM, etc. etc. Definitely give it a try - I've been playing with it all morning.

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June 13, 2007

Spock Search: A new approach to aggregating data

Beam me up!

I've been sent a beta trial of Spock, which I'll admit I've been looking forward to trying. Spock is an interesting social network/ search tool. Basically, it indexes and uses information stored in online social network databases and in address books to create searchable profiles of people.

From the Spock folks: "[Our] mission is to organize information around people and create a search result of everyone in the world. 30% of all internet searches are people related. We have created the most relevant, accurate, and largest search application focused on people. To date we have indexed over 100 million people representing over 1.5 billion data records. We plan to eventually index everyone in the world."

They're off to a good start. With VC funding through Clearstone Venture Partners and Opus Capital, they're adding on content and tools daily.

I've spent some time searching, first myself (duh!), then George Bush, then Jim Brady, then George Michael. (Yes, in that order. Time for a new therapist?)

I found some of the information about me to be accurate (my jobs, my bio, where I've gone to school). Some, like where MyDigiMediaGroup is based and where I currently live, wasn't.

Here's what I got searching George Bush:

And this...

Here's what turns up for Jim Brady:

It's an interesting way to search, since most of the information is coming via Wikipedia or social networking sites where, at least in theory, the searchee has entered the information his or herself.

Spock looks for people only...I think some work still needs to be done to tweak results. But it appears as though the team is relying on crowdsourcing to take care of inaccuracies. For now, it's an interesting little aggregator.

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May 05, 2007

Don't Par.ticipate, please...

Par.ticipate.com launched a few days ago as a sort of pay-to-play social networking site.

From a press release I was sent:

It's a social site that encourages members to actively participate in blogging, forum discussions, uploading and voting on pictures, and commenting on profiles. Participate does this by offering profit sharing to qualified members. Members that have reached a point level of 600 are automatically enrolled in the profit sharing program. Participate pays it's members for building content.

So how does it make money to pay members? The answer is traffic. Par.ticipate.com earns revenue from advertisers for the traffic that a site like Par.ticipate.com can create. The site also earns money from affiliate sales created by the traffic generated on the site. 50% of the profits that are generated from the site are given back to the members that are creating it.

Now that I've had a chance to click through it, here are some thoughts...

First reaction: del.icio.us was a hell of a lot easier to type and didn't require that ".com" Web 1.0 hallmark.

Second: If I'm the sort of person who writes well and often enough to captivate a loyal following, why wouldn't I host ads on my own blog and keep 100% of the revenue myself?

Par.ticipate.com frightens me, because it's yet another site encouraging people to populate blogs, forums, etc. with meaningless content for personal gain. We see it in domain parking, which is part of the reason why all the new Web 2.0 startups are missing their vowels. We see it in email spam. We see it in paid search.

Dramatic increases in superfluous content is already leading to our inability to find what we're actually looking for. This isn't going to help filter content - it's just going to add to the digital clutter.

 

May 03, 2007

Obsessed With Google Web History!

I've discovered Google Web History, a new tracking service that keeps tabs on every single page of every single site you visit online. It's a sort of reverse stat counter - metrics for yourself.

I visit hundreds of web pages every day - and now I find myself coming back to Web History to see where I've been.

The service raises obvious concerns. It's a bit like engaging a stalker to deliver reports of what he's seen you doing all day long... On the other hand, smart web publishers are keeping tabs on you already.

Google has just enabled you to stalk yourself.

More f rom: Google, Search Engine Watch

March 14, 2007

Search Engine Optimization Tips

Last night in Philly, PANMA hosted a search engine optimization education event meant to help folks learn more about how some sites' traffic break servers and other sites never get found. Believe it or not, SEO isn't always about content and headlines.

Some of the presenters offered a hit-list of web resources to learn more about SEO. I would offer that online editors have a look through these links and begin to think about how to apply some of these techniques to optimizing their news sites...

Some of my favorites:

See if URLs have been cached (or not) by Google
Keyword analysis

Seed Newsvine

February 22, 2007

Obamarama! Have a look at these numbers...

Want more evidence that newspapers should look beyond blogs to real content sharing? Consider the following numbers:

  • 70,000 newly registered members
  • 4,000 new blogs started on the site
  • 3,000 new fundraising pages created
  • 2,400 groups started

These are first week numbers. First week! Now take a guess at which site I'm referencing. It's the site that I show all of my clients to energize them about sharing content with others online. (Still need a hint? Look below...)

Seed Newsvine

February 19, 2007

Found: New social bookmark search at Infopirate

Just stumbled upon this bookmark search engine today at infopirate.org. A very Web 2.0 way for journalists to dig deeper for information.

February 15, 2007

How to use YahooPipes...

Franticindustries just posted five intriguing ways to use YahooPipes. (HT: Lifehacker)

For example, number three:

News in English

What is it and how it’s done? Reddit, Netscape, and Digg are not enough for you? Aching to read what the Europeans are voting on, but you just don’t have the language skills? No worries. In this pipe, I’ve taken the top 10 items from Spanish site Meneame.net, as well as German and French versions of Wikio, and created a single feed in English.

How useful is it? Well, it’s not bad. I’ve taken a silly example, but being able to take feeds in many different languages and turn them into one feed in a language of your choice will surely be very useful for many users.

Link: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/2E8akQO62xGrchCW0kqv4w
RSS: http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/2E8akQO62xGrchCW0kqv4w/run?_render=rss

I'd love to see newspapers harness a technology like this so that their online readers can have access to rich context surrounding a single subject. Here's one user-generated pipe aggregating blogs relating to 2008 presidential candidates. (You'll have to login with a Yahoo password to get access to YahooPipes.)

One problem would be that newspapers would have to allow multiple inbound strings of information outside of their own brand, wire service or media partnership...

...course, I don't see that as an impediment.

(Also see related Yahoo story in MyDigimedia)