Man Versus Machine For “Keeping Up”

I like to think that ACRLog performs two important services for our readers. First, there’s the insightful, powerful commentary and opinion that we deliver in our witty, pithy posts about the issues of the day. Well, at least we try for that sort of thing. Where we perhaps more frequently make the grade is in that other important service – helping our readers to discover interesting new events, worthwhile articles and posts at other blogs, and otherwise helping you to “keep up” with all those things you might not have time to find on your own. Well, when it comes to performing this funneling and filtering function in providing news and information, do we do as well as electronic services you could be using?

Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite columnists. Terry Calhoun is the Director for Media Relations and Publications for the Society for College and University Planning. Calhoun writes a regular column for Campus Technology’s IT Trends newsletter. I commend you to subscribe to it as part of your keeping up regimen. Calhoun’s latest column takes up the issue of “man versus machine” in the battle to help us all keep up. Calhoun indicates that his column was inspired by this article in Wired. Like Calhoun I’ve found Google News Alerts rather disappointing because it delivers so many irrelevant results for every decent one it finds. In fact, I’ve stopped used it. My results from creating RSS feeds in Yahoo, Findory, and other engines aren’t much better; far too many irrelevant results no matter how specific I make my search terms. And it’s not just search engines. Search alerts I’ve created in our library databases tend to yield irrelevant results, but certainly not to the degree experienced with search engines.

It is still early in the game when it comes machine-driven keeping up. I’m sure the technology will get better and allow us all to better automate the funneling and filtering process. For now I find it’s necessary to probably subscribe to more newsletters, web sites detects, and feeds than I’d like so that I can do my own funneling and filtering. It’s all about finding and sharing the good stuff with ACRLog readers.

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