My Romance with “Google Alerts”

I’m not ashamed to admit it — I am madly in love with the content change detection and notification service otherwise known as “Google Alerts.”

In case you’ve just landed from planet Zork, get a load of this:  Google Alerts is a web service that automatically notifies users when new content from news, web, blogs, video and/or discussion groups matches a set of search terms the user has requested.   These notifications are sent to me via email, and it’s completely and totally FREE.  (Note to Google: don’t even think of it!).

As a journalist, I’ve set up (and removed) all kinds of alerts — many are based on topics I’m researching at any given time.  So if I’m writing about the planet Zork, for instance, I’ll set up a Google Alert for any web content with the word “Zork” in it.

Of course, because I’m extremely vain, I have alerts set up for my own name, “Claudia Gryvatz Copquin,” so every time my byline appears somewhere, I receive a notice in my mailbox.  These emails take priority over everything else.  So I was thoroughly delighted when I opened one such Google Alert the other day, to find a review of my book, “The Neighborhoods of Queens” (published by Yale University Press in 2007)  in a publication called “The Long Island History Journal.”

The review begins as follows:

“The Neighborhoods of Queens offers an astonishing array of surprises in its descriptions of all 56 neighborhoods in Queens. Queens Village, we learn, had long been “an oasis for shooting enthusiasts,” which explains why certain streets there—Springfield and Winchester boulevards, Musket Street, and others—are named for rifles (151); the “moniker” Utopia, given both to the community and the parkway, originated in a land scheme to develop a “cooperative community for Jewish families then living on the Lower East Side” (75); and the “first kerosene refinery in the nation” and “first modern oil refinery” were both enjoyed by Maspeth (139).”

OK, so the book covers 99 neighborhoods, not 56 — but Dr. Ross Wheeler
the acclaimed Queens College reviewer, is clearly enthused.  Thanks, Doc!

And thank you, Google Alerts.  You complete me.


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