I really enjoy automated news feeds, and in particular the ability most of them have to send only news that I identify as personally interesting to me. For example, I have a search that sends me email whenever the name “Huettner” or “Phalon” (my maiden name) appears online. I’ve got one set up for the word documentation, but I’ll probably delete that one soon because I get a lot of notices about immigrants without documentation and loans or banking services that require specific documentation. Not what I mean at all! More to the point is the phrase “technical communication”–this generates the kind of info I find interesting.
I’ve also got one set up for “Harry A. Franck” , and that generated a link just the other day to an article from the New York Times entitled “Girdles the World Without a Cent: Harry A. Franck, Sociologist, Tells How He ‘Beat’ His Way Around the World”. I’m fairly sure that I own most everything Harry every wrote, but this was news to me! Turns out, the New York Times is posting an archive of their old stuff, and this article (from March, 1910) just happened to be “new” as in newly posted. They’ll let you search PDFs of articles in the archive from 1851 to 1980, or HTML versions of more recent stuff. Some of it is free (I suspect mostly the stuff that’s already considered public domain) and some of it is available by subscription. All in all, very cool.