A comment on my last post from a journalist at the Essex Chronicle got me thinking. Obviously he’s using Google Alerts to track topics of interest, in that case possibly “World Scout Jamboree” or maybe “Chelmsford” or “Hylands Park” (hello if this triggers the alert again!). I know other journalists do this too – I wonder if the Ormskirk Advertiser pick up on what we say online…?
Back to the point I was going to make! What tools do we use in Higher Education to help us better track what goes on online? I have a few Google Alerts of my own, but non for work use at the moment. I track interesting sites using RSS feeds and I monitor Technorati for people posting about Edge Hill – what do other people do? Is it part of our role in Web Services to track everything online, or should we be showing others some of the tools to monitor the internet for themselves?
I’ve just subscribed to an alert on “Edge Hill University”. Let’s see how much my inbox gets flooded!
Update: make sure you’re specific about alerts – I originally subscribed to Edge Hill University without the quotes and two out of three notifications weren’t anything to do with Edge Hill.
 icNetwork is currently broken – why is it always so slow?!
If you thought that the <marquee> tag was… well… a bit 1995 then you’d be right, but that was the first thing that I noticed on the all new Technorati homepage. If you’ve not come across Technorati before, it’s basically a search engine for blogs. Unlike most search engines such as Google it has very quick indexing – blog posts typically show up within minutes as long as you “ping” them to say there’s something new on your site (this is normally done automatically for you by the blog system). It tracks links between blogs and uses this to determine the “authority” of blogs.
Technorati have been struggling to keep ahead of the sheer might of Google with their Blog Search – now with even higher visibility due to the Universal Search feature they’re rolling out – so they’ve had to adapt and that’s introduced new features and less focus on blogs. Search results and browsing the site now features video, music and photos and more non-blog sites are included in the authority ratings.
Blog search is still there though and it’s been given a dedicated interface at search.technorati.com. Despite the threat from bigger players, Technorati is still a useful service, and while it might not draw huge numbers of people to our sites, it’s very useful for tracking the “buzz” surrounding blogs and community sites.