“Cool” may not be quite the right word for these tools, except in my world where cool describes anything I’m interested in. But there’s a few web tricks I use to keep tabs on particular topics for one of my blogs, and it occurs to me other blogger types might be interested for their own purposes.
The TV, Eh? What’s Up in Canadian Television site is focused on a specific topic: it gathers existing news, media releases, and scheduling information on Canadian television programming. I started it because I wanted a one-stop resource, since it’s a huge pain to find information about Canadian programs on the web. Then I realized, d'oh, maintaining the site would be a challenge because it’s a huge pain to find information about Canadian programs on the web.
Add to that the fact that Canadian networks subscribe to the stealth theory of marketing when it comes to homegrown programs (“shhh, don’t tell them about it or they might watch!”), and I need all the technological help I can get to make all this scattered information come to me.
You might not have exactly the same need to obsessively scrounge for every single article on a specific subject, but you might want to use these kinds of tools to keep on top of the news in your particular field and get blogging inspiration. Or, better yet, you could make my life easier and let me know what tools you find even more helpful.
You can personalize your Google News page by logging in with your Google ID, adding custom searches – I mostly use the title of shows currently on the air – and getting rid of the defaults. I don’t need to see the sports section, for example, so I deleted that and every other default section I could. But I do want to track every instance of “Little Mosque on the Prairie” and “The Jane Show,” so those are two of my custom searches.