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Tools to mine the Live Web

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Sources include blogs and the wide array of social bookmark services

The newly released search service Wink, which indexes data from the Net's tagged content sources like Furl, is the latest entrant. Along with the tag-based search output, Wink provides normal Google web search results also.

THIS EDITION of NetSpeak examines the features of `Live Web' and introduces some tools created for extracting information from this most vibrant part of the Web.Numerous tools by which netizens can generate/access real-time content with ease are available on the Net. Tens of hundreds of blogs spanning diverse subjects and the wide array of social bookmark services are some of the web sources where one can find latest information on any subject. The distinguishing feature of such a Web source is its real-time/dynamic content. This part of the Web, with fast changing information packed on it, is generally called `Live Web.'The incessant flow of content from `Live Web' sources presents formidable challenge to netizens, who want to keep up with this ever-changing information landscape. Here, we will examine a set of tools created for helping us tame the live web.Several on-line services for regularly monitoring live web sources and collecting/presenting information in a searchable/browsable fashion are in place. The popular news aggregator Google News (http://news.google.com), which periodically scans more than 4,500 news sources automatically, is a good example.Blogosphere, where thousands of bloggers discuss/disseminate latest news on almost every conceivable subject round the clock, is a prominent constituent of the live web. Tools developed for scanning the thousands of blogs and filtering out trends/relevant content will help you mine live web more efficiently. Memorandum, the blog aggregation service that shot into prominence recently, is one such tool. The service regularly analyses content on blogs related to a specific area and displays the latest important content. Currently memorandum delivers information from two types of blogs-technology (http://tech.memeorandum.com/) and politics (http://www.memeorandum.com/). As the readers of this column may already know, blogs and other live content sources host news feeds for helping us monitor the latest information available on them. Generally, netizens subscribe to these news feeds or RSS feeds with a desktop/web-based newsreader. Services for displaying web feeds on other channels are emerging. For instance, the free service Immedi.at (http://immedi.at/) offers an awesome solution for reading your favourite feeds in your IM client. The service sends you instant messages as and when the content of your feed changes. It supports popular IM services such as MSN messenger and AOL. The significance of `Immedi.at' lies in its mixing of two real-time tools — RSS and IM. Normally, to track information, each time you have to visit the news aggregation site or switch over to the aggregator program running in your desktop. But with `immedia.it,' you just have to keep your IM client on. A summary of updates on your favourite subjects/sites will fall on the IM client automatically as and when it happens. More mix-up tools of this kind may surface in the future.Besides blogs and news sources, another set of products powering the live web is the wide variety of social bookmarking services. These services thrive on user-generated content and closely monitoring the quickly changing content on them will help you keep up with the information race. Many netizens view the front page of the famous social bookmarking service Del.icio.us to get information on the latest sites being bookmarked by its users. In fact, this is an excellent means to locate the latest on-line products being churned out by web developers. Del.icio.us (http://del.icio.us/) is so popular that numerous postings appear almost every second. To tap this live information flow and display the postings in real-time to del.icio.us viewers, an innovative service called Livemarks has been set up. LiveMarks (http://sandbox.sourcelabs.com/livemarks/) scrolls del.icio.us bookmarks as soon as the users post them on to del.icio.us. It is really exciting and addictive to experience this service, where every second a new site appears.A feature of on-line bookmarking services and some blogging systems is the facility to attach tags or labels to the content being posted. Services for tracking tags and aggregating tagged content from different on-line sources are in place. The tag aggregation service, Technorati (http://www. technorati.com/tags/), featured in the past, is a valuable product in this genre. The newly released search service Wink (http://www. wink.com/), which indexes data from the Net's tagged content sources like Furl, is the latest entrant in this segment. Along with the tag-based search output, Wink provides normal Google web search results also. Along with its excellent search service, Google offers several other products/services that include Google Base, Google Alerts (http://google.com/alerts), Google Book Search (http://books.google.com/), Google Desktop (http://desktop.google.com/), Google Earth (http://earth.google.com/), Google Reader (http://www. google.com/reader/), Gmail and so on. Perhaps you may wonder how to keep up with this constantly growing service base or remember each of them.

Google Services Guide

This is no more a hurdle. Just visit the site Google Services Guide (http://googleservicesguide.blogspot.com/), which hosts an exclusive, alphabetically organised list of almost all products and services released by Google so far. Currently more than hundred services are listed here.J. MURALI

He can be contacted at: jmurali@gmail.com


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