Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wanted: Better Egosurfing Software

One attractive feature of the internet is the ability to spot conversations I would like to be part of, most obviously posts that mention me, and join them. I can and do use Google for the purpose, doing a search for my name plus one of a group of words likely to show up in references to me, minus a string that signals a post on one of the Usenet groups that I'm already reading, and limiting the search to the period of time since I last did one. It's entertaining, useful--on one occasion I found someone attributing a page or two of text to me that was actually written by someone else--and provides at least a modest boost to my ego, so long as what I find isn't too hostile. And I occasionally use the same approach to try to find new information on some topic of interest to me.

While the available tools are vastly superior to anything I have use of in realspace, they are still pretty clumsy. Google checks to see how recently a page has been updated but doesn't tell me whether the update introduced the particular terms I'm searching for, so many of the pages I find are ones written long ago and seen by me long ago. And my search doesn't distinguish between a page that says something about me and a page that merely contains a link to my blog, a link that is likely to have been there for a long time.

Is there a better way of egosurfing?

One obvious approach is to figure out a better search string; so far I have not managed to do so. Another, if (as I suspect) there are a fair number of people online who engage in similar searches, would be dedicated software for the purpose. The main thing I would want it to do is to filter out any page where the reference to the term being searched for was present during the last such search, while leaving in a page that was spotted before that now contains a new reference.



Anonymous said...

Have you tried Google Alerts? It is a service from Google that will alert you at given intervals when Google indexes something, which in this case could be your name.

It works best if you have a non-generic name of course, so depending on how many other David Friedmans are being mentioned it should give you only the newest pages and conversations.

Rue Des Quatre Vents said...

I would second Google Alerts, only make sure you put quotations around your name when you register your search term. That should cover the mainstream websites, but I'm not sure it'd help you with blogs. Technorati may have a similar feature for blog searches but I'm not sure.

Greg Mankiw seems to post strange references to his blog quite frequently. I'm not certain where he obtains these, but they're quite humorous.

Of course simply having a blog helps! So perhaps discussion will come to you anyway. Here's one instance of your work being discussed, though I'm not sure your aware of it (though your son Patri is!):

Rue Des Quatre Vents said...

Whoops. Meant to add this link:

Maurizio said...

How I would love to see prof. Friedman respond to that mr. Wolf :)

Anonymous said...

Better than Google alerts is to build a rss feed of search results. EvilRSS used to do it but they stopped providing this service.

Another service doing this with google is feedmysearch, but it's slowish

For example"david friedman"&where=web

Chris said...

It requires a larger initial investment of time and effort but a developer could make a custom search tool using Google's API which could apply a complex set of rules to query results.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... shouldn't you be spending more time producing mind-blowing libertarian research instead of ego-surfing? :D

Unknown said...

i mentioned you recently