New Digital Formats: Searching for Blogs and Podcasts

Digital information is not limited to simple Web pages any more. Sabrini Pacifici, Editor and Publisher of llrx.com and owner of the BeSpacific blog, gave us a tutorial on how to search and navigate through the blogosphere. She noted that there are now over 50 million blogs searchable by Technorati, which is 100 times more than were available three years ago. Blogs are rising up everywhere. Large corporations like Sun and Microsoft have thousands of employee bloggers. The president of Iran has a blog with an RSS feed, and one can even find animal blogs!

The best way to find blogs is to go to the sites you frequent regularly and see if they have a blog. For international blogs that are searchable by language, country, or category, check the Eatonweb portal, which tracks about 60,000 blogs. Also check newspaper web sites, many of which put links to their free blogs prominently on their Home Pages.

CEOs are increasingly blogging; they generally use blogs to tout rollouts of new services, and for marketing. A Fortune 500 blogging wiki is also available.

Blog feed aggregators include Topix.net, Bloglines, MyYahoo, and FeedsFarm. Tag clouds can be searched using Icerocket, and Google has a blog search feature.

Podcasts are another example of new alternative media, and Greg Schwartz, from the Louisville Free Public Library, and owner of the OpenStacks blog, covered searching for them. A podcast is a way to distribute audio content online. Podcasts extend RSS technology to audio/media, facilitate automatic downloading of new content, allow time-shifting (listening to content whenever desired) and allow listening to MP3 files on a PC (without an iPod). Schwartz agreed with Pacifici that the best way to find podcasts is to go to a known source and then find their directory and the URL of their podcast feed. Then cut and paste the URL into an RSS aggregator. He cited National Public Radio (NPR) as having a good podcast directory. Other podcast discovery tools include Podcast411, Podcast Alley, Podcast.net, and of course iTunes. Blinkx is a search engine that indexes the content of podcasts.

Don Hawkins
IL2006 Blog Coordinator and Columnist, Information Today


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