Information gathering tools: a revisit

May 23, 2011 01:06 am | Updated May 27, 2011 04:16 pm IST

This edition of Netspeak revisits the topic of information gathering aids that are available on the Net.

E-books directory

It is common knowledge that digital versions of books on almost all subjects can be found on the Net. Unlike earlier days, no one needs to rush to a library to read that special expensive book, a meticulous web search and a few mouse clicks could bring the book right on to her desktop.

To facilitate this book-hunting endeavour, a variety of special search tools also exist. ‘E-Books Directory' >( ), which indexes freely downloadable e-books and documents on a variety of subjects, is yet another instance of such a service.


Information gathering is certainly not limited to just text content. While researching on a specific theme or topic, we come across a huge variety of content. The content could be in multiple formats that include video, audio and text. Now, if you need to share this content with collaborators, the current solution is to simply send the relevant resource links to them. However, this solution may turn out to be cumbersome if you need to engage the recipients and further enrich this content with their help. The ideal solution would be to pack the resources culled from the web into a single document and share it with others. If this concept excites you, then take a look the new service Webdoc ( > ).

Webdoc service (currently in beta) offers a platform that lets you collect all types of resources from the web and generate a webdoc mixing all the resources thus collected. To integrate a document into your webdoc, you simply have to drag and drop it into the webdoc document canvas. To create a webdoc, open an account (free) with the service, log-in and simply press the button ‘Start a new webdoc'. The webdoc interface presents several tools that help gather a variety of content from the web with ease. Once the relevant resources are identified, you can integrate them with your document by just dragging and dropping them onto the webdoc container window.

Besides static multimedia content, webdoc offers facilities for easily integrating your document with several on-line applications (like Google Maps and Twitter). This helps you make your document more organic/interactive. Once created, the webdoc can be easily shared by sending its URL or by embedding it on your blog or site.

Here is the link to a webdoc generated by this author in a couple of minutes: > -- a simple illustration that shows the product's potential.

Picture-based tutorials

A little bit of web design/programming skills and a deep understanding of Office suites like Word, Excel, Writer and so on are some of the minimum requirements to survive in today's technology intensive workplace. Umpteen books and tutorials on these topics are available all over the web.

If you are looking for a tutorial site that deals with these subjects in a simple and comprehensive fashion, jump over to ‘In Pictures' ( > ). The advantage of ‘in Pictures' tutorials is that they are picture-based, each of the steps is explained graphically. The site offers tutorials on subjects such as MS-office, web design (HTML/CSS) and programming (PHP).

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