Design Your Own Personal Keyword Alert System

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I have almost 250 Google Alerts now on topics, people, and companies,
so I receive emails on my blackberry every time news occurs about any
of these. This is like having a personalized, real-time Burrelle’s
clipping service that is delivered to my PDA. It is invaluable.

New terms I added today: fairtunes, giftwiki, bango, mobeon

Before I spend time personally one-on-one with entrepreneurs who want (free) advice, I ask them to do several things, including set up Google Alerts.

When I speak to students or educators I plead with them all to take
advantage of this amazing free service that will wire their brain to
breaking news around the globe about topics they are most interested in.

Imagine the increase in personal intellectual capital if every employee
in every company did this, and if every student and professor did this
as well.

Now fast forward a year or two when Google Alerts (or the equivalent)
will work with radio and TV broadcasts and conference transcripts and
university lectures and books as well.

Each of us will be able to design our own life-long learning
curriculum. We will be more intelligent, because we have designed our
knowledge alert systems, rather than reading a newspaper or watching a
TV news program with 22 minutes of airtime (with only a tiny fraction
of the information being relevant to us personally) and 8 minutes of
commercials, which are mind-numbing and inane.

One of the most useful skills in the future will be designing our own
personal keyword alert systems. I wonder if there is an opportunity to
consult with large corporations to help them implement personal keyword
alert systems for hundreds or thousands of employees, to help them stay
competitive, monitor their competition, be alerted to successes and
best practices that might affect them, and so forth.

I might be willing to design a consulting practice around this, in case someone is interested….

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5 Responses

  1. Good question.
    In addition to Google Alerts, I am constantly reading magazines and visiting a dozen or so excellent web sites that introduce me to new concepts. I add new terms weekly to my Google Alerts.

  2. Now that Google News is available via RSS (or Atom), wouldn’t you use that instead of Google Alerts anyway? I agree with Dave here. There is just too much information out there to be pulled willy-nilly in every direction. I value my brain bandwidth and try to keep a reasonable signal-to-noise ratio on the things I pay attention to, especially when it comes to e-mail or mobile alerts. I find RSS to be a much more appropriate channel for things like this.

  3. Jonathan Cone

    I completely agree with the google alerts saving time. There is just so much information to digest that there isn’t enough time in the day, especially if you have to weed through tons of garbage to get to what is truly interesting.

    The only concern i can’t seem to work around on this concept though is missing something I may not realize I find interesting. It’s not that I may not have any interest in the story, it’s just I haven’t though of how it may apply to me or something new to learn. Invariably every time I pick up a paper/magazine or watch the news there’s always one snippet that catches my attention that I wouldn’t have thought to look for and ends up starting a new hobby or new line of thought on an old concept.

    I guss what I’m asking is how do you account for learning new things that you may not immediately realize as relevant or interesting until it’s presented?

  4. Dave Bascom

    I love Google alerts, too, but they can become overwhelming if you get too many of them. Most of the “breaking news” you get from Google alerts isn’t any more current than what you could get by subscribing to the RSS feed of a few good blogs or news site or by personalizing your Google news page or MyYahoo page. Most of the bloggers are getting their news from Google news alerts anyway, so why not let them sift through and find the good stuff? The trick is finding the best sources for news and ignoring the junk. Once you find sources you can trust, you’ll get the news you know you want as well as the hot new tips and ideas that you don’t know you want until you see it (like Jonathan mentioned).

  5. Solomon Folks

    We have currently developed a system that could serve this purpose very well I believe. It’s funny how many useful ideas we have taken from post or comments in the blogsphere and applied them quickly to our software. I would be interested in chatting with you about it.

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