One thing I came back with from LIFT’06 is that what one should monitor is more keyword watchlists, rather than blogs. I used to have a few hundred blogs in an aggregator, but gave up using it ages ago. Too much to sift through, considering it isn’t my day job to do so.
During his talk, Robert mentioned that he used PubSub to track keywords like “Microsoft” or his name. Of course, it makes sense. Tracking topics that are of interest to you. I created a PubSub account and set up a few subscriptions to try to track things like mentions of my hometown, Lausanne, teenagers and weblogs, and of course my name. Tracking your name makes a lot of sense if you’re looking out for conversations. Think of highlighting in IRC: if everybody tracks their name in blogs, then you can just call out to them. Hi, Robert, by the way!
Now, this name thing. I guess tracking your surname with PubSub is all right if you’re named Scoble, but if you’re named Booth it makes things much trickier. I added my first name, but that didn’t help much if I omitted the quotes. And as people are likely to refer to me as “Stephanie Booth”, “Stéphanie Booth”, “Steph Booth” or even “Stéph Booth” that’s a bunch to track, but let’s say it’s manageable. But it rules out people who refer to me as “bunny” or even “Tara” (yeah, and if I start tracking those too, it’s not going to make things less messy).
What I really liked about PubSub is that it offers me an out-of-the-box sidebar for firefox. I can get a list of the recent posts containing my keywords in there, browse them, click, check, move on. It has highlighting too, and that’s really nice — helps me see straight away if the Stephanie Booth on the page is me or some homonym. (For some reason it’s not working anymore, but it was nice while it lasted.)
What I didn’t like is that it didn’t seem to be returning as many results as Technorati. Also, I wasn’t always sure if it was responding or not (I guess the current conversation around my name isn’t very busy ;-)). And the “Latest Messages” option only gave me the last three posts in each subscription. It gave me the impression of being a little incomplete in the results it returned. I suspect it isn’t really incomplete, but I can’t really nail what gives me the impression. In any case, PubSub and Technorati give different results for a search on “cocomment”
The slight unsatisfaction with PubSub made me go back to Technorati watchlists, which I had never really used. I like the idea of tracking URLs in posts. If somebody links to me, then it doesn’t matter if the person called me “Stéph Booth” or “Tara” or “la Mère Denis“, I’ll see it. I can also track links to my Flickr account and other blogs and stuff easily. Keyword searches work too. So, neat, I now have a watchlist page on Technorati with all my monitoring material. I can subscribe to each of them by RSS.
Gripes, however. And for the sake of it, let’s assume I’m hoping my watchlists will replace my NewsReader, and not go and live in it:
- I can only expand one watchlist at a time.
- Expanding a watchlist shows only the three last results.
- I don’t have a compilation page with the latest results from all/any of my watchlists.
- I’d like a sidebar!
- Blogroll links keep showing up in Technorati search results. It’s nice to know you’ve been blogrolled, but you don’t need to be reminded of it each time you do a search.
- No highlighting!
What it boils down to: I’d like a Technorati Watchlist sidebar for FireFox and highlighting of search terms or URL in the pages which are loaded from it.
Do you monitor keywords, URLs or search terms? Do you use PubSub or Technorati? Do you stick the results in your feed reader to keep track of them?
Update: of course, I’m much more familiar with Technorati, so there might be something about PubSub I’m missing completely. Feel free to educate me.