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Google has done a lot. They created an interesting business model—good, free products bring in lots of users and thus advertisers will pay big bucks—and they changed the way we find information. Search engines are great, but they're even better when hooked up to a profiling service like Google Alerts. In case you're not familiar with them, Google Alerts are an automated way to run Google searches. You create the alert, specify what to search for (and even what domains, if you like), and then you get emailed whenever there are hits.

Ages ago, I had a short story I was sure was a good fit for Paradox, a speculative fiction magazine with an interest in historical and alternate history fiction. Unfortunately, they had closed to submissions. I created a Google Alert that searched daily for references to paradox, magazine, and submissions. Sure enough, eventually they opened, I sent in my m.s. and guess what? Paradox didn't think it was such a good fit.

But I never bothered to turn off the Google Alert. It was interesting to see how often the results were something I might actually be interested in. For some reason, I quite often got notices of postings by Pyr editorial director Lou Anders on his blog Bowing to the Future, plus the occasional interesting-sounding aspiring author blogs like this one by a British guy named Gareth Jones. Sometimes the blog would belong to a published spec fic author, like this post from Dave Williams. It was a little like having a free subscription to the lottery. Sometimes the ticket was worthless and sometimes I won something interesting.

So, I still have my paradox alert running daily. I'm just sitting here, waiting to see what the vast ocean of data will wash up on my shores. Okay, I know I just mixed my metaphors. So sue me.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 15th, 2009 02:16 pm (UTC)
I'm going to look into that, once I re-load the Google toolbar. If I can re-load it. Said it would take 44hrs to do so.
Feb. 15th, 2009 04:20 pm (UTC)
It's a great way to follow anything you're interested in. I don't think you need the toolbar; you do need a Google account. Alerts are listed under the "My Account" options once you have logged in to Google. Since I use GMail, I am almost always logged in to Google.
Mar. 5th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
There is always Serendipity Search for that 'different approach: www.serendipitysearch.co.uk
Mar. 6th, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
Re: SerendipitySearch
Hmm. Well, I looked at this site, but darned if I can tell how it's different from plain old Google.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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