Where are we and where do we want to go?
Anyone that leads anything, at sometime, ponders " Where are we and where do we want to go?" (Optimists would say "I want to go there!" and pessimists would say "Let's avoid going there... and there ... and there ..."). Many times this questions needs some random information that normal information paths will not easily provide. Two tools I use to scan the billions of info items out there are Technorati and Google News.
Technorati, while originating as a source for the techie world, is now populated with enough information to help provide perspective from blogs all over the world on many topics. What Technorati provides is a way to scan blogs for specific tidbits of information (research focused) and for random information input (browsing).
Google News allows you to scan over time for information and send you an alert via email (Google Alerts)
How can I use these to help my company or organization?
When looking for ideas you need sources of information to generate ideas or brainstorm on projects, Technorati is a resource to bring back mixed material to get people thinking.
Here is an example: I am looking for some information on the pork industry and economics and feed issue. Using the Technorati advanced search tool to create this link: http://technorati.com/search/pork+AND+economics+AND+(feed) brings back some articles that will start an idea search. Another example: anything out there with "pork" and "industry"? The http://technorati.com/search/pork+AND+industry+AND+%22pork+industry%22 link brings back several posts that might spark some ideas.
What about Google News? If you have a business or a product, go to Google News, and put in your company name or product name. Example, use "national pork producers council" and a list of recent posts (news, blogs, journals, web sites, etc) is displayed. Take this further and use the same search term in Google Alerts and you will receive and update when something happens. Why? To be a part of the conversation you need to be informed when your product is being talked about. Both Google News and Google Alerts (free by the way) are easy ways to tap into the media information being produced.