Gulf Oil Spill

I’ve been quiet about the Gulf Oil Spill but have been sickened by the images that come through on the news services.  A new mashup puts the size of the oil slick into perspective.  It’s a mashup of imagery of the size of the spill onto Google Maps.

In the image below, I’ve asked it to overlay on Windsor, Ontario.


The image stretches from west of Lansing to east of Chatham and from Sarnia in the north to Pelee Island in the south.  In terms of distance, it’s an hour to drive from Windsor to Chatham and an hour and a half to two hours to get to Lansing.

This really puts the size of this into perspective for me.

Be Alert

The world needs more lerts.  Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

It does lead in to the concept of being alerted to things that are happening around you in the digital world.  Just who is talking about you?  Where is your identity being discussed?  Who is saying good things about you?  Who is saying bad things about you?  Even paranoids have enemies.

Sure, you could go searching for such things but if you know me, I’m all about automating anything that I can.  Some call it lazy; I call it getting the technology to work for me.

Google provides yet another service with great functionality.



It’s called Google Alerts and it’s like having a research team working for you constantly. 

The concept is ridiculously simple. 

Determine the search term that you want found, tell Google Alerts what to search (everything is nice), how often and then provide an email address to search the results.

I can’t help but wonder what this functionality would have had when I was taking university courses.  You search the stacks; you search the electronic resources that you know of.  But that’s the extent of it.  Imagine being able to search everywhere automatically.

So, humble person that I am, I have a daily search for “dougpete” and get the results sent to me.  Some folks would call it “monitoring their brand” – I’m not that deep – it’s just keeping an eye out for what’s going on.

It does have a serious use as well.  I recall a discussion with @rmbyrne when we were presenters at the Teacher2Teacher Conference earlier this year.  Richard is the blogger behind the excellent Free Technology for Teachers resource.  He’s used this resource to track down someone who was reposting his content without permission.

So, if you have anything to monitor – your content, your name, your school, your business, your research topic – you name it – create yourself a Google Alert (or more than one) and stay on top of things automatically.

links for 2010-05-28