"...an added disadvantage to the service might be the fact that anyone who takes you seriously, such as a boss, might be put off by the fact that you are online all day updating people on the minutiae of your life."
The ROI of employing this tool is higher than almost anything else on the internet, honestly. I can't think of any knowledge worker, in any field, that wouldn't benefit greatly from a well-constructed Custom Search Engine.
In response to Jim Brady's shift of WaPo's policy towards only allowing comments from named individuals comes this Bivings guide to how to maintain the quality of comments without resorting to naming names.
A couple of days late but I thought I'd see what could be done with some simple web2.0 tools.
The obvious first move is to create a Google News alert. I'm expecting to be deluged with highly repetitive news stories but I don't see any way round this for the time being. I could add this as a feed to my Google Reader account but looking at the results page I'm just going to overwhelm it (there has to be a better way!)
I'm also worrying now about whether I need to set up separate alerts for 'Burma' and 'Myanmar'. I'm not going to do this because I can see it's going to create an even bigger problem with duplication.
I see that Google News has added a 'blogs' option and I've tried adding the Burma search results to my Reader as a test but I'm getting an error messae -- ' "(title unknown)" has no items'.
Caught up in the seemingly relentless buzz about the power of Twitter, I've added an RSS feed of 'Burma' tweets to my Google Reader account using Summize. At the moment this is picking up a lot of reaction to Hilary Clinton's nod to Burma in comments last night. Most of it is critical, which is interesting.
And so to Flickr and YouTube. On Flickr the only search that made any sense was 'Nargis'. There is no 'cluster' for this disaster and I wondered again about whether there was a role for a curator during crises to go into Flickr and help to organise the material a bit better. And I can't work out how to set up a feed of new material.
YouTube is much, much better organised -- it tries to work out what you are looking for and suggests search terms. But still no way of setting up an RSS feed.
I only subscribe to two weekly mags -- the Economist and The Week (Dennis Publishing). Everyone knows about the former and it's distinctive analysis, eclectic content and huge influence. But to my mind the latter has the more interesting editorial approach.
The appeal of both is that they help busy people to navigate their way through the vast amounts of information available. One survey showed that the Economist was the overwhelming source of choice for British MPs trying to keep abreast of foreign affairs.
What The Week does incredibly well is to pull out and link the best coverage of topical stuff from the world's media. It's wholly derivative. And i keep looking at it to work out whether it is taking risks with copyright infringement.
Dennis Publishing says The Week is Britain's top-selling weekly magazine. I was a bit surprised to hear it was outselling the Economist but it is a lot cheaper (£2.35 vs £3.90) and what about all those cheap celeb mags and things like the Radio Times? I guess there must be a lot more competition in those sectors.
And yet the most surprising thing is that in perfecting the aggregation, filtering and linking of the best content around, which to me is the essence of good editorial use of the Web, this offline magazine has completely failed to harness the Internet.
There is no UK web version
There is a US edition but it merely reprints the offline stuff and puts the links in (although that does seem fairer to the publishers whose content is highlighted).
I'm interested in this because I think there are two principle models that are going to drive online media offerings in the not-too-distant future: -
1. Best of the Web aggregation -- in which editors, experts and algorithms do the hard work in finding the juiciest material, packaging it up so that it's palatable and making it easy (and quick) for subscribers to keep up to speed. This is for busy people and/or those who are anxious about missing stuff. Google News tries to do this but is hampered by poor packaging and massive duplication.
2. Personalised and socially networked news -- for which the best model I have is from the online music world where services like last.fm somehow 'read' your consumption of music and bubble up other suggestions from people with similar tastes. If you haven't tried it yet then do so because it's a really tangible example of how web2.0 technology can deliver real value. Amazon has been doing something like this for a long time but does not have the social connection thing going.
I've been looking for a while for good examples of The Week and last.fm approaches online. And today, while reading about the London local election results, i found one -- PoliticsHome.
This is like The Week for UK Politics (and some other stuff) and is produced not by an established media player but by the pollsters YouGov. The difference is that YouGov is focusing on harnessing the Web whereas Dennis is seeing it as a supplement to the offline product.
PoliticsHome is like a Google News for UK politics with some human filtering and some smart design. They have recruited Andrew Rawnsley as an Editorial director, which underlines the fact that this blends classic and web2.0 approaches.
PoliticsHome doesn't yet have the social networking features of a last.fm, but you can see how it might soon develop them. It's the best example I've found yet of web2.0 approaches being adopted in a vertical and my guess is that, unless an established player jumps in and does something similar, it will come to dominate the space for UK political junkies.
Didn't see the live BBC coverage so can't say whether having bloggers in the studio is any different from having political correspondents, pollsters or other journalists but Emily Maitlis's election night blog is terrific.
Basic idea is that in addition to using the bloggers as pundits/we-jays, Emily anchors a blog to which the best of the guests' own blogs is added (along with TV excerpts and the best comments sent in).
Suspect there's a lot of production involved and that many will feel this is in fact over-produced but really, really entertaining example of an edited conversation.
Over at Guardian there's a much leaner, but possibly more effective liveblog from Allegra Stratton. Some of the (relatively few) comments are a bit borderline but part of the attraction is how raw this is. And they've integrated a Twitter channel from Dave Hill (though it doesn't seem to be working at the time of writing).
At the Telegraph, Daniel Hannan (a Conservative MEP and leader writer) has a liveblog that somehow hasn't quite worked (because it's neither entertaining nor terribly newsy).
Meanwhile Sam Coates at the Times has perhaps the best content of all -- loads of gossip and strong sense that here's someone at the nerve centre. Strange then that it's not promoted better on the homepage.
And on Sky News all there is is a single token post-show update from Adam Boulton -- might have been better to have excused the poor chap from blogging so he could get some sleep.