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Notess Shows How to Tap Into Conversations


Search expert Greg Notess had some words of wisdom for “datamining conversations” on the Net—and some cautions. This isn’t just about following on Facebook what someone had for dinner. Be aware of the public-ness and searchability of what’s now available online. It’s aggregating the information in a different way that can creep people out. And, remember—Once you’ve sent something out, even as a private email, it’s possible it could get shared.

He reminded the audience that we still have access to long-term discussions—Usenet discussions are still available as Google Groups (especially useful for conversations about computing in the ‘70s and ‘80s), whether you like it or not, these are still out there. More email discussion lists have moved their content onto the web. Some limit to members only for archive search. Some still do not have web-based search—but search is still possible.

Summize offers some incredible conversation search options. It added Twitter search and was then bought by Twitter ( He showed people in the other conference rooms at IL twittering in realtime about the wi-fi at the conference! It seems that the tag “IL2008” was the most active on Twitter this morning. Advanced search lets you specify geographic location – for example, within 15 miles of Bozeman, MT.  Notess says it’s fascinating to search the Twitter space even though he doesn’t Twitter himself frequently. He reminded users that you can set your Twitters to private – so only your friends will see the tweets. But check occasionally to see if it shows up – it’s not perfect protection. The same cautions apply to Facebook, which offers many privacy protections to users, but only if you take advantage of the settings.

He also reminded people to check other places where conversations occur – blogs (comments and trackbacks), and Web 2.0 sites (look at comments and ratings, responses). Lots of good tips and cautions. Thanks, Greg.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, Information Today, Inc.