OU News Tracking
A couple of days ago, Stuart pointed me to Quarkbase, a one stop shop for looking at various web stats, counts and rankings for a particular domain (here’s the open.ac.uk domain on quarkbase, for example; see also: the Silobreaker view of the OU), which reminded me that I hadn’t created a version of the media release related news stories tracker that won me a gift voucher at IWMW2008 ;-)
So here it is: OU Media release effectiveness tracker pipe.
And to make it a little more palatable, here’s a view of the same in a Dipity timeline (which will also have the benefit of aggregating these items over time): OU media release effectiveness tracker timeline.
I also had a mess around trying to see how I could improve the implementation (one was was to add the “sort by date” flag to the Google news AJAX call (News Search Specific Arguments)), but then, of course, I got sidetracked… because it seemed that the Google News source I was using to search for news stories didn’t cover the THES (Times Higher Education Supplement).
But that was a bit hit and miss, and didn’t necessarily return the most recent results… so instead I created a pipe to search over the last month of the THES for stories that mention “open university” and then scrape the THES search results page: OU THES Scraper.
If you want to see how it works, clone the pipe and edit it…
One reusable component of the pipe is this fragment that will make sure the date is in the correct format for an RSS feed (if it isn’t in the right format, Dipity may well ignore it…):
Here’s the full expression (actually, a PHP strftime expression) for outputting the date in the required RFC 822 date-time format: %a, %d %b %Y %H:%M:%S %z
To view the OU in the THES tracker over time, I’ve fed it into another Dipity timeline: OU in the THES.
(I’ve also added the THES stories to the OUseful “OU in the news” tab at http://ouseful.open.ac.uk/.)
Going back to the media release effectiveness tracker, even if I was to add the THES as another news source, the coverage of that service would still be rather sparse. For a more comprehensive version, it would be better to plug in to something like the LexisNexis API and search their full range of indexed news from newspapers, trade magazines and so on… That said, I’m not sure if we have a license to use that API, and/or a key for it? But then again, that’s not really my job… ;-)