Hacking Google Alerts

I’ve been receiving Google Alerts for a couple of months now and they have resulted in about 20 blog entries. I think that this is a very useful product.

You may not realize this, but I have 6 other blogs. I have a couple of Harmonica related blogs, the cat blog, a tech blog and another blog that I don’t really use much anymore. I also have a blog that use for testing template features and that one gets a few hits because I discuss ways to use css and html to format a blog.

I find the Google Alerts very helpful in providing content for my blogs. I like the Nyack alert because it keeps me updated on what’s happening in my home town, especially which of my old friends and neighbors have been arrested. I come from a part of Nyack, called Central Nyack, that can be a rough neighborhood.

For every blog entry I get from Google Alerts, I discard 40 or 50. It occurred to me that these alerts are of interest, even though they might not make a good blog entry. I decided to revive the idea of a Blog Carnival – a blog consisting of nothing but links. I started this morning to write the code to convert the alerts automagically into blog entries and I am making progress. I am trying to design it as open ended as I can so that I can make many blog carnivals and let them run without my intervention. These, of course, will be monetized with ads so that they will make me money.

I’ll let you know when I finish the project. I was thinking of having carnivals for “Bio Fuel”, “Cats”, various harmonica stuff, maybe something with science fiction related announcements, and “Nyack”. I am thinking about having some medical related lists that might link to higher paying ads. Once I get it working, I can have as many blogs, automatically fed by the alerts, as I wish. I would just have to compose a template for each one.

First cut on this for the google alert biofuel is at http://www.gthread.com/alert

I expect that I will be able to improve a little on performance by caching the results, but all the parts are there except the formatting.