Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Taking a 'Sip' from the 'Internet Firehose' - Part 1

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information on the Internet. Many of us, however, need to stay on top of certain topics. There's an easy way to automatically search the Internet and let Google send you an e-mail whenever something new is published.

If you're overwhelmed with e-mail, then just follow the instructions to use 'News Reader' software to track any and all websites that publish new items using a 'News Feed.' That's what I do and I have dozens of websites that I track this way.

What follows is a 'recipe' that I've developed to help dairy farm advisers track news items on a topic of their choice. You'll have to adapt it for your use.

  1. Go to http://news.google.com
  2. In the search box, type in the search terms you'd use for a Google search. For example, type in dairy farm carbon credits and then click on the "Search News" button.
  3. Look over the list of responses. If some or most of the 'hits' are what you're looking for, then go to step 4 below. If few are what interests you, then adjust the search terms until you like the list.
  4. When the list is acceptable, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on the link "Create an email alert for dairy farm carbon credit" which is under the "Stay up to date on these results:"heading.
  5. In the next page, you'll go into the "Google Alerts" system, and you can adjust how you get sent the info. You can change the type of search from "News" to other items. You can change the frequency from daily to 'as it happens' or once per week. You then type in your e-mail address and click on the "Create Alert" button.
  6. You'll be sent an e-mail from Google asking that you confirm the alert. When you get the e-mail, you must click on the link to confirm that you want the search.
  7. You can create more alerts by clicking on the link to do so. You might want to create one alert that scans 'News' and a seperate alert that scans the 'Web' for the same search terms.
  8. You can sign up with Google for an account so that 'manage your alerts.' I do this through my Gmail.com account, which is free. Many people prefer the Gmail message handling features, and if I didn't need to use my umd.edu mail account to highlight my professional association with the University of Maryland, I'd use Gmail exclusively. I currently use it for all my personal e-mail. If you'd like an invite into Gmail, I'd be glad to provide one, but it's not necessary.
  9. When managing your alerts, you can either receive the notices by e-mail (which I find clogs up my mailbox) or you can view them with 'newsreader' software. I use this approach, and you go into the manage your alerts screen and change the "Deliver To" option from e-mail to "Feed".
If you need more info on newsreaders and feeds, you'll have to let me know. That's going to be the topic of my next 'Sip from the Internet Firehose' blog post. I personally use 'Google Reader' to view my custom set of news feeds, but there are many systems that work well.

Hope this helps.


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