SweetSearch: Looking For Greater Research Reliability

Plug your search terms into Google and come up with the sites that have paid or engineered themselves to rank highest in the results order. Plug your search terms into SweetSearch and pick from websites whose rankings are based on their reliability and credibility.

According to Lifehacker’s Kevin Purdy, SweetSearch premises its results on the rankings employed by FindingDulcinea, an aggregator of scholarly websites. Only 35,000 of the best sites, rated and approved by SweetSearch’s researchers, are indexed. Pages from the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, educational and public institutions rise to the top, while psuedo-educational sites are swept aside.

While a visit to their page reveals that SweetSearch is obviously geared towards students, it doesn’t take a PhD in rocket science to realize the value for any researcher looking for the right information on the Web. If you like the idea of losing that first step of sifting through your Google results for the most credible site links, check out SweetSearch.


Curating Tweets: Can It Be Done?

One fantastic source of relevant information is the stuff distributed by the thought leaders on a given subject in a given community. One assumes that the information such thought leaders consume, process and then pass forth to others is of a greater value than, say, the average random post floating by in a galloping stream of content.

When considering where to mine for value, one cannot ignore Twitter, although one might like to. I say this because I myself have felt the frustration of reading a section of the stream and only finding information of little to no relevance to me, despite my constant effort to cultivate and pare follows and group them in lists. Simple search may not be enough: when I enter a keyword, I am often met with a barrage of information ranging from spam to sham from users I have no prior connection with and, therefore, no basis upon which to assess the value of their contribution.

There may be some answers to these issues in the pipeline. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb writes about a new service that is not quite open to the public called Curated.by.

Curated.by is a tool that allows you to gather and share collections of tweets on topics of interest. Once the collections are created, you can share them, embed them on a web page, or, more imporantly, subscribe to the collections of other users.

I have no first hand experience with the service yet. It is the creation of Bastian Lehmann, who interestingly enough was responsible for another Twitter trend tracking tool (say that five times fast) called Zensify that I wrote about here (link)  in the Studio over a year ago. The interface sounds simple enough: drag and drop tweets into a collection created on the site, or use a Chrome extension to collect tweets right on the Twitter web page.  Check out Mr. Lehmann’s own Flipboard tweet list here, to get a sense for what a Curated.by list might look like.

I see two excellent uses for this tool: (1) create a list of valuable tweets that compliment your own expertise or subject matter and embed or share them with others to show your powers of curation; and (2) find the curated tweet lists of others whose opinions you value on given subjects so that you can cut down the time spent in Twitter finding the shiny stuff. This would be an example of personal serendipity with a slight lean toward search on the Relevance Matrix discussed in my prior post.

Curated.by is not the only option out there. My longtime fav legal content publication tool, JD Supra, also offers an application within Facebook called Social Transcripts that allows you to enter one or more keyword terms, collect tweets and share them in a tab on your Profile page. Once at day, the application will publish a note containing your transcript to your Facebook friends. I tend to pay attention to the information highlighted by people whose insight I value, so Social Transcripts from valued connections are similarly promoted in my mind.

Mr. Kirkpatrick also notes in his post another curation service, this one for blogs, called Curated.info (link here).  Curated.info collects and bundles blog subscriptions. Removes some of the heavy lifting if you can find bundles created by users who know what they are talking about.

It can’t be overstated: effective Web use is all about efficiency. And with time being money or money being time or something like that, tools like Curated.by, Curated.info and Social Transcripts can only help.

A Visual Relevance Map

Still trying to grok relevance in our current Internet state of affairs? Simply put, relevance is the degree of value and importance that a particular item of data holds for you. Filters and tools help us sift through the irrelevant to find the relevant. Different tools fit different needs – relevance is directly related to how particular information is uncovered, how it is intended to be used and its degree of implicit veracity and support.

Skeptic Geek Mahendra Palsule has put some brain cells into mapping relevance with a visual representation that sorts the tools in different need quadrants.  While I believe the purpose of Mr. Palsule’s exercise was to determine the front runners in the battle for our attention raging among startup tech companies. I think the mapping also serves as a decent primer for any web user to get a sense of what tools will yield which result. Check out his map below:

Just to clarify, search vs. serendipity addresses the range of behavior from actively looking for something specific to simply happening upon something of value. Popular vs. personalized reflects the range between data that is hot across the masses compared to info that is ranking high within your own social circle.

The tools noted above are not an all-inclusive list – I can think of at least ten more right now off the top of my head that should fit on this x y axis chart. Nonetheless, the chart provides a great overview of where the different types of tools fit in the overall scheme of how to find, filter and interact with the information most valuable to you.

I strongly urge you to hit the jump to Mr. Palsule’s original article, where he provides a more detailed explanation of what he was trying to accomplish with the table and his FORMAT method of categorizing the tools. If you understand how the tools fit in the bigger picture, you can more readily figure out which tool to use for a given purpose.