Posts Tagged ‘alternatives’

Delicious to be scrapped? Some alternatives

17 December 2010

Rumours broke last night that Yahoo! are to mothball Delicious.

While this would be an inconvenience for those of us who use the tool to save our bookmarks, by binning the Delicious network much real and potential eureka moments in online search will be lost forever.

This is a massive loss for anyone who wants to make sense of the web, including journalists tracking stories, contributors and other reliable sources online.

If push comes to shove, I’m personally inclined towards either Pinboard (subscription for pro version required) or Xmarks, but there are plenty of other alternatives.

Here follows a short (and very much draft) extract of notes for a book I’m aiming to finish later next year, on online research for journalists.

It covers some alternatives to Delicious for newsgathering and research…

For some, the browsing and searching options in Delicious may seem a little over-restrictive – what of all those bookmarks whose owners haven’t tagged, described or even included a title for their bookmarks – moreover, how valuable can search in this field be, when you can’t search the full text of all links saved in this social bookmarking service?

Certainly Google doesn’t index Delicious bookmarks by default, so are there any alternatives?

As ever, of course there are – several services offer more sophisticated ways of searching your bookmarks, using a range of means.

Since March 2010, Google Bookmarks have been experimenting with public lists – although no where near as thorough or populated as Delicious, Google Bookmarks (which requires a Google account to use) does provide search for the entire page of your bookmarks, giving a researcher more control over the bookmarks which have been shared publicly, and lessening the impact of bad or inconsistent tagging.

Blinklist offer an alternative search option, albeit one with relatively little UK content, and which lacks much of the functionality of Delicious (similar could be said for Faves which contains a good deal of content, but isn’t as robust as Delicious).

Likewise, social annotation tools like Diigo (which incorporates FURL – account required) may be useful here too. CiteULike and Connotea offer an academic take on social bookmarking, and can be a useful accompaniment to Google Scholar for digging out expertise, or esoteric research.

inSuggest offers a bookmark discovery service – just type in your (or any) username to receive suggested new reading.

However, this searcher didn’t have much luck – I struggled to make the Deligoo plugin for Internet Explorer work (and the FireFox extension is not compatible with version 3.6.6.), while Delizzy wasn’t available at the time of writing.

In addition, I wasn’t able to sign up to Simpy, but that doesn’t stop it being a useful place to search other people’s bookmarks. It is possible to construct a Google Custom Search to house your bookmarks, or use sources like Lijit.

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Google Reader no longer offers screen scraping

5 October 2010

In class yesterday I was trumpeting the virtues of Google Reader in newsgathering.

But when it came to creating a feed for static pages (of which there are many when it comes to tracking local news sources) it didn’t seem to be working.

That would be because Google switched this feature off at the end of last month.   Elsewhere, on an unofficial site, it is claimed Google have said not many people used the function.  Once again (as with the recent demise of Bloglines) it just goes to show how vulnerable specialist research tools can be.

Fortunately there are plenty of alternatives out there, including:

Page-2-RSS

Feed43

Feedity

Feedyes

That said, the only way to avoid the inconvenience of other (mostly free) services going belly up, is to get your sleeves rolled up, learn a bit of programming, and do your own scraping.  There are no shortages of tutorials on how to use  iMacros or Python for screen scraping.  It’s just a matter of how much time you have to put words into practice (I keep telling myself)…