blog:Searching for Social Software Information

By jenstanjenstan (1222733593|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

As my next blog entry, I've decided to try applying what we've learned in class about Web Directories and RSS feeds to my term project. Up until now most of my searches in search engines have been unsuccessful, with maybe finding a relevant page or two to my topic. Let's see what I can find now.

Directories

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With tons of directories out there such as Yahoo Directory and DMOZ, I would think that I could find something. In a directory called Mahalo I came across a category called Social Networking that produced results useful to me. However, the category of Social Software encompasses much more than just social networking sites (a rough list can be found on Wikipedia). I found this to be a big problem when searching directories. Not all directories have the category you are looking for. In fact, in my search of numerous directories, I failed to find one that actually had a category just for Social Software. It was kind of disappointing since the benefit of such a directory would have been extremely valuable to my project.

RSS Feeds

Since my search of web directories was not very promising, I now am going to search for some RSS feeds and integrate them into my Bloglines page, which can be found on this wiki under Blogroll.

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My first search was right through Bloglines, using the search option "Search for feeds." The first ten did not look very intriguing or relevant. However, I continued to scroll down and found a feed from CNN on Social Software and Tagging. Now this is what I am looking for and was hoping to find to help make my search for information easier. This then intrigued me to keep looking at the rest of the feeds found. Normally, I would not look past the first 5 or ten results in a search engine, but I learned that this may possibly not be the case for blogs and feeds. I also took note that Bloglines automatically sorted the feeds by the number of subscribers, with feeds with the most subscribers at the top. This is not necessarily a good thing, because the users may have subscribed to these feeds for information other than social software. The method of sorting also reinforces that idea that I may need to look at more than just the first few results.

Actually, 10 minutes later I realized I was deceived into thinking that the site sorted them by number of subscribers because it was like that for the first few, with zero subscribers toward the end. However, after much more scrolling, I found feeds with hundreds of subscribers and in fact found them more useful. I didn't want to fix my information above to show that your first impression of a new search site is not always right. You cannot just make judgements about its procedures and ways of doing things without thoroughly analyzing it. However, my thoughts on looking past the first few results still stand, as how I found a very useful site near the 50th result.

What Should I Do Next??

Well, I find this to be a very difficult question. Web directories told me that I needed a more narrow search topic such as Social Networking. RSS feed databases told me that I could find information, but it was going to be extremely hard to find (not to mention super time consuming to search through pages and pages of results). As I continue my searches, I will look through other blogs such as Technorati and Blogs.com. Also, finding the RSS feed on CNN has led me in the direction of searching news websites. Therefore, even though my searches here were not very successful, they have given me clues as to other places to look for information and what aspects of social software I may need to focus on.

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