Google Related

Have you heard about this new Chrome extension, Google Related? I think it is pretty cool indeed. Related works on your Google search page, adding related content in real time via a bottom bar. Search your topic, glance at the bar and see other information that pertains to your search. Peruse that related content without losing your original search result. For example, check out the image below – if you search for a restaurant, Related may show you maps and directions, reviews, other similar places or other nearby places.

There is also a built-in +1 button so that you can approve of your results. As you may know, those +1’s will show up on a tab on your Google Profile for later review. Check out this version of the page on a research topic.

You can hit this link here and get the extension yourself. You can also check out the video below for even more information. Nice add, Google!

Court Listener – Real Time Alerts

Legal decisions are public records, no matter what West and Lexis/Nexis try to sell you. So, why should you care about a court reporting service like Court Listener (link here)? Court Listener’s angle is that it will provide you with “real time” alerts on decisions reported in the 13 federal courts of appeal and Supreme Court. Get a daily report on the decisions that contain your search queries by registering on the site and entering your alert query using boolean connectors in the search box.

Court Listener is a graduate student’s thesis project. From the site:

This site was created by Michael Lissner as part of a masters thesis at the University of California, Berkeley School of Information. Michael was advised by Assistant Professor, Brian Carver. The goal of the site is to create a free and competitive real time alert tool for the U.S. judicial system.
At present, the site has daily information regarding all precedential opinions issued by the 13 federal circuit courts and the Supreme Court of the United States. Each day, we also have the non-precedential opinions from all of the Circuit courts except the D.C. Circuit. This means that by 5:10pm PST, the database will be updated with the opinions of the day, with custom alerts going out shortly thereafter.
The coverage of our corpus for a given court varies, but it is growing on a daily basis. We are working to integrate the documents from other online sites that provide free public access to court documents.

As of today’s date, Court Listener as 166,144 documents in its database. You can also browse recent opinions to see generally what the federal courts have been up to. Not bad for a student project.

Google Search Results – In An Instant

Google has been tinkering (again) with search. And when Google tinkers, people sit up and take notice. Yesterday, Google trotted out its new search mechanism: Google Instant. Because you can never get your results too quickly.

Google Instant is essentially an enhancement of Google’s search function, rather than an overhaul. Essentially, Google will now offer you search suggestions as you type, in real time, real fast. Results immediately start springing up as you type your query, and they change as you add keywords. You don’t even have to press “search” anymore. Because we read faster than we type, predictive results give you a chance to switch gears during search – as you peruse changing results, you can improve your search if you notice the results are not quite what you had in mind. Google believes that its new, enhanced, predictive search will result in three benefits: (1) faster searches; (2) smarter predictions; and, (3) instant results. It also believes you will shave anywhere from 2 – 5 seconds per search query.

Questions, anyone? Yes, you can turn off Google Instant – simply click the link next to the search box or visit your settings page. Yes, you can get it if  you are in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia and use Chrome version 5 or 6, Firefox version 3, Safari version 5 for Mac and Internet Explorer version 8. No, it won’t noticeably slow your internet connection and Google will preemptively be turning it off for particularly slow connections. Yes, you can still do it the old fashioned way and type your entire query and hit enter if you wish. No, it is not yet mobile, but it should be later this fall.

No, according to Google, it will not change search results. But the Web is a-buzz and a-flutter about this very point – just view the list of posts on Techmeme alone (link here). The big issue for Web-izens is how it will change “search engine optimization” or the ability to tweak web pages to rank higher in search engine results.

Ultimately, this sort of predictive searching should change search behavior. If you are being shown what is wrong with your search from the query box, you aren’t likely to click on a few links to double check your results. Furthermore, it is very likely that the instances of one- and two-word searches will diminish – searchers will be encouraged to enter more and more terms, refining their search on the fly, until they have what they are looking for, even if it takes a whole paragraph in the search box. There is no doubt in my mind that Google Instant will turn peoples’ heads in directions they hadn’t thought of when their fingers first hovered above the keyboard, ready to strike.

Striving for the top of the Google results list is still important – searchers will still see your site link scroll below the box as they enter relevant keywords. And really, there is nothing wrong with having Google help you form your query. Like any suggestion, you can take it for what its worth: in this case, the value of a product of fairly complex machine algorithms that adapt and learn over time, and personalize your Web experience. As long as I am still able to control the outcome via alternative search methods, sites and filters, I am fine with a suggestion or two along the way, particularly if I am looking for something as mundane as the weather in San Diego this weekend.

When I challenged Bing as a search toy compared to Google (link here), I wasn’t too bothered by it for myself, inasmuch as I practice good research methodology and know to check multiple sources for my answer(s). Of course, now I have to check multiple sources within Google itself to ensure I am getting a bigger picture on issues that matter.

When it’s all said and done, my feeling is that an extra tool in the box is not a bad thing. It will be interesting to see how Google Instant fares in the short term, and how Web searchers evolve in response to the change in the long term.

One Search, Five Big Social Nets With 48ers

With apologies to my college logic professor, if time is money, then real time is real money. Shorten your time investment and broaden your real time search capability with new search engine 48ers (link here). The public beta version of this search engine allows you to tap five networks at once: Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, Digg, and Delicious. What more do you need? Results show the source and you can filter to show only entries from a single source. You can’t set up a feed of search results, but you can share your findings with your own social networks, creating an ever-spiraling feedback loop of concentrated information. The main search page shows trending topics as well, with links to supporting posts.

Of course, I had to try it out, so I searched “jailbreak iphone 4″. After about 5 seconds, this is what popped up:

As you can see the results were pretty Twitter heavy for the first few pages, which isn’t so surprising giving the volume of tweets compared to the volume of posts on the other featured services.

So, why the crazy name? From the site:

What’s in a name ?

The Californian Gold Rush began on January 24, 1848 at Sutter’s Mill, in Coloma, California.

Some of the earliest fortune seekers were known as the “49ers”, but the very first pioneers were known as the “48ers”.

These gold-seekers uncovered nuggets of gold worth thousands of dollars. We named our service after them as our aim is to help you find nuggets of gold from conversations across the web.

What are you waiting for? There’s gold in them thar hills!

Organizing Your On-Line, Real-Time Research

Now that you have your RSS feeds organized, how do you collect and digest the great information you find there? Try Mashpedia (link here) – a real-time tool that searches and collects feed information and displays it in an easy-to-read format. Start off with a search-engine looking box and enter your topic of interest. You will then be directed to a page with results, including definitions, videos, Tweets, and other items. You can also view clickable semantic links between the search results.

Show or hide individual streams or feeds. Customize individual articles.  Static content and real time flow sit side by side, greatly increasing the depth of informtion on your given topic.

Mashpedia is another great application to aid the on-line researcher in staying up to date on a given subject.

Hat tip to ResearchBuzz and MakeUseOf.

Power Up Your Blog Speed

Google Reader remains, by far, the most popular RSS feed reader out there. I rely on it heavily, both in its direct form and as the back bone of my other reading sources, such as Feedly and other information-consuming applications.

One of the complaints comparisons often bandied about the Web regarding GReader is that it is painfully slow to update feeds with new publication, now that we have such hyperactive services such as Twitter. Real time speed (“RTS”) is often considered a “good” thing among Webizens. I, for one, prefer curated content from dependable sources to RTS and have always preferred to sacrifice a wee bit of speed for reliability.

Until now. Techy people already know about the PubSubHubbub protocol which enables the transfer of RSS feed publications at RTS. I don’t know enough about these technicalities to even attempt to explain the how of it. But I do know that the protocol has been rolling out via various Web applications, speeding things up wherever it lands.

Late last week, commenters noticed GReader delivering information from feeds enabled with PubSubHubbub at a much faster rate. Apparently, GReader is now reading and relaying PubSubHubbub-enabled feeds in real time. Most major on-line publications have already adopted the protocol so the GReader experience has definitely picked up as a result.

What does this mean to content creators? Well, you too can jump on the PubSubHubbub bandwagon with your blog and supply the world’s most popular reader with your writing in real time. If you use Blogger or Posterous, your feeds are already PubSubHubbub-enabled. If you use the WordPress software on your own hosted site, you can install this PubSubHubbub plug-in (link here).  If you are slogging away over at WordPress.com, you unfortunately are out of luck at the moment – they have adopted the competing rssCloud format, which is not yet supported in GReader. If you use Feedburner to send your RSS feed, turn on Google’s Pingshot to send out information in real time.

What are you waiting for? Not GReader anymore! 

Hat tip to ReadWriteWeb (they so smart).

Readfresh: Another Tool to Tap Web's Changing Content

Twitter and RSS are popular sources for examining the flow of news through the internet pipeline. But there are other ways to get your goods. I have discussed Lazyfeed, the real-time blog aggregator / updater, here in the Studio. Now another tool has emerged to help you stay on top of breaking news and site changes.

Readfresh is a web site that collects your favorite web pages, and brings the most recently updated sites to the top of the screen, so you can see what’s new at a glance.After signing up (you can use Facebook Connect) and entering your favorite web site URLs, just sit back and watch the sites shift and flow as new information is added to them.

You also can search for content via Readfresh. Use the Search tab to search the latest updates across all sites in the Readfresh index.

It has a nice, simple interface, which is both a benefit and a drawback. Consider using Readfresh if you only have a handful of sites to follow. For power readers, the interface may not capture enough of the breaking information for your tastes. Nonetheless, if you are new to following changing web content, Readfresh might be a good starting point.

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Speeding Up the Search For Gold

How do you find what you are looking for before you even know you are looking for it?

What is the Web for, if not mining for that golden nugget of information on your topic of interest? If you are a business professional, you need solid information on your brand, competitors, industry developments, and best practices. If you are a blogger or are looking to distinguish yourself as an information agent, you need to stay on top of the news and cutting-edge advancements of interest to your audience.

Let’s face it, though. The depth and breadth of the Web today is a blessing and a curse. There is no shortage of detail and the lag between newsworthy event and press time is ever-shrinking. How do news brokers cope?

I am always looking for means to increase efficiencies. There is nothing I like better than the “a-ha” moment. And I like a healthy challenge – taming the raging firehose of the Web presents a substantial one. So, I am sharing here a few thoughts on my own, current process for reducing time investment and realizing greatest gain.

Say what you will about Twitter replacing RSS, but I still bank much of my time with some form or another of RSS reader. I can easily pick and choose my trusted sources and, while I sacrifice some “real time” gain, I believe I realize a more distilled result. I’m not saying Twitter is not a valuable information gathering tool: I simply cannot justify on most days the time needed to really crunch through lists and then parse the hordes of tweets. People tend to really spew when their per-spew investment is a mere 140 characters.

But even RSS can get overwhelming and I often don’t have sufficient time to fully digest that meal. So, how do I grab the most nutrient-packed snack?

Right now, I am using a few applications to this end. I am using Google Reader, but employing the “magic” filter on the shares of a number of fine web distributors and RSS feeds covering my topics of interest. I follow this with a quick glance at the lists sorted by time to ensure I haven’t missed the latest and greatest within that RSS-driven world.

I can get an even more condensed version of this relevance-weighted information via Feedly, either on my Firefox or Chrome desktop browser. Feedly does a great job of displaying pertinent posts. It also gives me a little feedback on how the Twitterverse is viewing my shares via its Karma feature.

I also have been relying more and more on the intuition-based iPhone application, my6sense. Despite somewhat lengthy load times and a rather annoying bug on the retweet feature, this app has been doing an excellent job of meshing my interests from RSS subscriptions, social feeds, and other sources into a tightly-condensed stream. I grap a look at it whenever I find myself out, about, and waiting in line. I can quickly share what I find to my favorite social networks.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, while there is a great deal of overlap between these sources, it is not complete. There is just enough variation to justify my continued use of all of them.

As far as Twitter is concerned, I still do not feel that I have tamed that savage beast. Organizing all of my follows into groups (albeit private ones for my own consumption) has helped but has not solved my dilemma. TwitterTim.es offers a fairly unique method of organizing the most popular tweets among my follows and I have found some good stuff there. my6sense does apply its magic to my Twitter stream, but I think it is biting off more than it can chew – my own tweets are featured as heavily as my follows’ tweets. So I am still waiting for that killer Twitter-prospecting tool that will give me the most value for the least time investment.

Do you have any tips, tools, or tactics for digesting the Web? I would love to know how you are managing your own process.

Real Time+Congress+iPhone=Real Time Congress for iPhone

Can’t get enough of your favorite representatives’ foibles in and out of the House? Need to know what your senator is reading? Check out this great free iPhone application from Sunlight Foundation with real time information on the doings of Congress. The app shows live floor updates from the House and Senate as they happen (hence the real time aspect), reports and memos as they are published online by the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Service, Office of Management and Budget, party policy committees and other agencies, daily and weekly notices from the House Majority and Minority Whips, and schedules of upcoming hearings for the House and Senate.

What a great way to keep track of legislators and legislation while standing in line at the pharmacy!

And don’t despair, Android fans, there’s an app for that too.  Although not quite the same, the Android app provides:

  • Up-to-date info about members of Congress.
  • Find members of Congress by using your phone’s location, a zipcode, a last name, or a state.
  • Read tweets and watch videos from members’ Twitter and YouTube accounts.
  • Reply to a member of Congress on Twitter from within the app, using your own account.
  • Read the latest news about them, using the Yahoo News API.
  • Create desktop shortcuts to individual members of Congress.

Great tip from Resource Shelf.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Internet Searching …

… or at least a great deal of it may be found in the pages of this “book” brought to you by the fine peeps at MakeUseOf. The 39-page PDF, aptly named “Guidebook To Internet Searching“, includes tips and tools for this increasingly-important skill. The book is broken down into sections devoted to the major search players and more esoteric tools by topic, such as searching for people, products, images, video, files, real time, and everyone’s favorite computational engine, Wolfram / Alpha. I love the Google search “cheat sheet” at the end, with lots of search terminology. Also, check out some of the other great Guidebooks they list at the back.

I bet there is something in here that will be new to you!

Hat tip to Jane’s e-Learning Tip Of The Day