Follow Friday – Reading Headlines

Rather than follow specific sites, I like to read across a broader range of material on a subject. It’s not every day that one can post on a topic that I think is interesting, and rather than be inundated with those topics, I can focus on what interests me. Google provides a couple of tools which help with focusing research or even just interesting reading. Alert and Reader give you options so you decide what you see on a regular basis, skipping the uninteresting bits and commercials, as it were.

Of course, I have an Alert for the Maling surname. I filter it to exclude references to the places in China which bear the name “Maling.” That kind of article is still intriguing, though, since I’d like to visit there someday. I also filter it to reduce hits on the number of typos that people make to terms such as “mailing list;” that one is a necessity, unfortunately. As well, other families and surnames that I’m interested in get their own alerts. Not all of them show up very often.

A recent item, and one I can’t recall seeing on the popular genealogy news sites, is an announcement of the new Hopkinton (Massachusetts) Historical Society headquarters. That reference came up with a filtered Alert. Historical societies such as Hopkinton’s provide great resources you might not otherwise find with just a focus on genealogy.

With Google Reader, you can collect a list of your favorite blogs and web searches in one space and read them when you have time. It is sort of like an RSS feed, but on-line. It can also be sort of like what Cyndi Howells did with her new (in June 2011) site The Cyndi’s List Daily, or sort of like Dick Eastman’s Newsletter, only “focused-on-my-interests.” For instance, I listened to DearMYRTLE’s “Flourish” piece on the Genealogy Gems podcast and was fascinated by how some genealogists view history terms.

Google’s ability to enable wide-ranging, but focused research reading is great. Both Alert and Reader should be in anyone’s toolkit.