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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thing the Third

From one of my Top 5 All Time Favorite Movies The American President:

Louis Rothschild: People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They're so thirsty for it they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand.

President Andrew Shepherd: Lewis, we've had presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand because they're thirsty. They drink the sand because they don't know the difference.

So I think the web is kind of like a desert. It's seemingly endless. People can get lose their way trying to get through it. When they do find something, they cling to it, even if it might be a mirage. They might go back to it again and again, because they know it's going to be there.

Say you type "politics blog" into Google because you want to know what bloggers are saying about political happenings. The first hit is DailyKos. This is a good hit, if you're on the left side of the aisle. So you go there and read a bit. But what if you want to know what others are saying? Going through a whole list of Google hits is going to take forever.

On the other end, what if you're like me and you already have a list of blogs and websites you regularly visit. If I opened a browser tab for every one of these everyday, I'd have no time to get any work done and I'd forget what I've visited and when.

How do I search through the bajillions of blogs to find anything relevant, coherent, amusing, mind-alteringly-brilliant? How do I find my way through the desert to find genuinely good blogs?

Two blog search tools I like are Technorati and Bloglines.

I signed up for a Technorati account a few years ago for a pretty vain reason: I wanted to see if anyone was linking to my blog. But Technorati is also useful to find out what other people are talking about in one quick look.

Bloglines is a little more fun. I like that you can subscribe to feeds based on interest. There is even a library feed! I also added a feed from my friends' popular sports and pop culture blog Hugging Harold Reynolds.

Tools like these can help us to find what's new and interesting, but more importantly, can help us save time!

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