Online research tools

There are all sorts of new online research tools that are worth experimenting with. Some have been going for a while. Others are relatively new. These are all worth trying out:

  • Blog Search Bloggers can help you find interesting stories online and place those stories in useful/illuminating contexts. Bloggers can be good sources for quotes too – and many are often happy to respond to student enquiries. So how do you find bloggers and keep track of them? One way is to use Technorati or Google's Blog Search
  • Zeitgeist Search There are lots of sites that set out to let you tap into what people are talking about/searching for online. I'm not sure how useful they all are, really. Best know is Google Zeitgeist, which lets you see what people are searching for. Google Trends lets you track the relative popularity of different search terms over time. Omgili is a specialised search engine that tracks 'subjective information' – discussions, opinions, reviews etc. It has lots of interesting tools to play around with – for example its Buzz Graphs
  • Social bookmarking The idea here is that you can bookmark sites online and share those bookmarks with others in ways that let you find more interesting stuff. Del.icio.us was the pioneer in this field. There are signs that Delicious may either be closed or sold soon by Yahoo!. If Many Delicious users have already jumped ship to Diigo, which offers the same sort of service. 
  • People Search There are various sites that set out to help you find people online. Many are mostly American in focus. Some just search for a person's online presence. Others tap into databases of public information – telephone directories, the electoral roll in the UK. Pipl, Wink and Spock are all American sites. 192.com is a UK based site. Again, it's worth playing around with these to see how useful you think they are. 
  • Network Search/Aggregation Various sites set out to be a one stop shop, letting you search YouTube, Facebook, blogs etc all from one place. Addictomatic puts together a page of information resources from the net, based on your search terms. Netvibes is like a supercharged Google Reader – you can create a page that pulls together feeds, info and various useful widgets.   
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