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Marshall's Web Tool Blog

Training and Consulting in New Tools for Effective Web Use

This site is an archive of posts that I hope you will find useful. Please visit my new site at Marshallk.com.

Persistent Search with Google News and RSS

I was just linked to from Rok Hrastnik's fantastic RSS focused blog MarketingStudies.net after I recommended a cool new tool to him called ScrappyGoo. The tool creates an RSS feed (definition) of Google News search results. Yahoo has long provided this service, but Google still doesn't.

ScrappyGoo is a tool for persistent search, meaning that any new search results are delivered to you whenever they appear, without your having to go and repeat your search to check for new results. This is very cool. There are many different tools for different sorts of persistent search, but this is a new and useful one. It delivers your results as an RSS feed into your RSS reader. (It "scrapes" the results page into an RSS feed.)

Users have long been able to set up an email alert for new Google News results, but email is much much clumsier than RSS. For example, I receive an email every time a new result appears for the search phrase "water privatization" in Google News. Now I can just add a feed of these results in my RSS reader, freeing my inbox and making the search results more malleable.

Developed by a Malaysian man named Tim Yang (see TimYang.com, a beautiful blog), ScrappyGoo is for personal use only and not for resyndication. Its developer believes this to be the most legally sustainable strategy, and it is a real shame that there's need to fear a lawsuit. (one side of mouth says "do no evil" (google's unofficial slogan) and other says "lose no chance to make more money.")

Resyndication, for those who are not familiar with the concept, is what I have done in the bottom of the right side bar of this blog. I've taken the RSS feeds of other sites and syndicated them onto my site. This is a powerful tool that can be applied in many different contexts. For example, imagine an environmental organization who's website resyndicates headline links for any new timber industry press release that comes out and search results about the local watershed in the news.

Any site can automatically displays headline links or whole stories from elsewhere as a part of its own content. It makes for a much more dynamic, connected site than can be done by hand, if it is done well. (That's something I can help with.) I use RSS Digest to create the few lines of code I drop into my site for the display. There are other tools that do this, but RSS Digest is the one I've used the most so far.

I use this tool as a way to create RSS Radars, a concept that Rok and his friend Robin Good introduced me to as I listened to Rok's podcasts. RSS Radars, by automatically displaying customized feeds from other sites or well formed searches, turn your site into the place people look for new news about a topic of shared interest.

And so we've come full circle. I certainly appreciate the link, already people from Slovenia, Tokyo and Malaysia (maybe Tim Yang him self) have visited my site via the link at MarketingStudies.net. Now all of the people linked to in this article will probably be notified that I've linked to them via persistent search tools like Technorati or PubSub, and the results of those searches will appear in their RSS feeds.

Ah! We've got to get these tools spread out into the nonprofit, academic and small business worlds!

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