Social Networks | Content Curation Services | Web - Mastering

Since this resource page was last fully updated back in the mid 2000s (yikes!), a lot of changes have taken place, not the least of which is the rise and rise of "UGC" (User Generated Content) and "Social Networks" in the form of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other equivalents like Sina Weibo, Renren and Tencent Weibo.  Even YouTube which predates these, is now considered "social".

So this page is now more a Social Networks, Content Curation Services, Web - Mastering and Useful Services introduction page, updated from the previous Email Lists, Newsgroups, Search Engines, Directories & Databases resources.

For travellers looking for reliable 3rd party reviews and tips, TripAdvisor, Facebook, YouTube and other "forward facing" networks have become the primary go-to forums for initial searches and advanced advice, with many of the Online Travel Agents (OTA) travel and accommodation booking web sites also providing customer feedback options.  See also "Review Skeptic"

For travel and tourism industry stakeholders and operators, LinkedIn, Facebook groups, Twitter, specialist blogs and industry trade publications help them keep their fingers on the pulse.

And after much talk of emails' demise when Facebook and Twitter became omnipresent, email lists are still popular as the best "opt-in" forum which remain a relatively private and personal way to keep up with the latest industry trends and scuttlebutt.  Email lists are usually attached to specialist web sites and blogs, and can be found alongside RSS or social network newsfeeds.

Newsgroups, discussion lists and forums still survive within some industry associations, groups and educational institutions.  These are usually closed if you're not already a member, and the entity web site is usually the best place to start a search for industry networking and research information.  For tourism trade publications and online resources, see also Tourism Research Resources.

And while the channels may have changed, the basic courtesies haven't.  If you've not previously participated in communities, please "lurk" before you leap.  As most are moderated and have rules, read the communities guidelines, pinned "README" or equivelant to check appropropriate behavior.  Don't SPAM (unless it's a channel where self promotion is permitted), and remember; there is still such a thing as Netiquette and you ignore it at your peril.

  • Baidu    Chinese language search engine which strives " provide intelligent, relevant search results for the tens of billions of queries that are entered into our search platform every day..."
  • Bing. The plucky Microsoft afterthought.  Although to be fair, a Bing search has a lot less "sponsored" and "paid" cruft popping up in its reasonably clean search results, so you might want to give them a go, if your default search has been Google.
  • DuckDuckGo "Our privacy policy is simple: we don't collect or share any of your personal information. What you search for is your own business. Switch to the search engine that doesn't track you." Using the Google database, DDG strips out the sponsored ads and Google apps to provide organic search results.
  • Ecoasia.  Want to do good while searching? Ecosia plants a tree to offset search requests, runs on 100% renewable energy, and is "privacy friendly", amongst other laudable features.  Bing provides the results that appear on Ecosia's search engine results page (SERP).
  • Google. "Our mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."  (While monitising it and tracking you across the web, while they're at it.)
  • How to Live Without Google  "Remove Google from your life? Yes, it can be done!"  And yes, it's ironic.  Big Volcano incorporates a number of Google services into this site, but I won't be offended if you decide you don't want to drink my Kool-aid, by switching to alternatives suggested.
  • The Internet Archive,..."a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public. Our mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge. We began in 1996 by archiving the Internet itself, a medium that was just beginning to grow in use. Like newspapers, the content published on the web was ephemeral - but unlike newspapers, no one was saving it. Today we have 20+ years of web history accessible through the Wayback Machine and we work with 625+ library and other partners through our Archive-It program to identify important web pages." Want to find out how long a web site has been around, or what it used to look like?  Chances are it's recorded for posterity at the Wayback Machine. 
  • Mycroft Project:  "The Mycroft Project provides a collection of OpenSearch and Sherlock Search Engine Plugins / Search Providers for Firefox, IE and Chrome." If you're like me, and have 10 or 12 search engines that you use on a regular basis, then Mycroft is a valuable tool for finding and installing these options to access directly from the browser search bar. Everything from geolocal SEs and academic search properties, through to commercial searches on Amazon, EBay, Aliexpress, film review sites, and more.
  •  "It's your data. Not big data. Enjoy private search on We're based in Europe, where privacy laws are amongst the most stringent in the world." Private search using Google database without all the ads and add ons, just organic web page results. What Google search results used to look like, with the added benefit of optional anonymous browsing.
  • WolframAlpha "Compute expert-level answers using Wolfram's breakthrough algorithms, knowledgebase and AI technology".  Crunching numbers and data?  Try this.
  • Yahoo. Does anyone actually use Yahoo anymore?  Powered by and looking like a Bing clone, this former founding power house of the web, is a shadow that is fading away.
  • Yandex is the most popular search engine in Russia, and also offers search in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Social Networks

Oh, the now entrenched darlings (or demons - depending on your prespective) of online marketing.  There's also a long held saying that "if it's free to use - then YOU'RE the product".

Privacy concerns aside - yes, you're being tracked ("Privacy is dead - get over it"), if you're using these networks to help connect with and market to your customer base, they take time.  And if you don't have time, then be prepared to spend money to get results.  There's a whole new industry that's sprung up since the mid aughties, for social networks marketers, managers and consultants.

 And needless to say (but we will), there are thriving paid / sponsored advertising or post options to boost your reach and exposure even more, with all of them.

  • Facebook: Eveyone knows what Facebook is about by now.  A billion people can't be wrong - right?  Personal profiles, Business pages, Photo Albums, and "Communities".  Want to get oodles of "likes" and "intereaction"?  Be prepared to spend time and/or money, share and stay on message inside the ecosystem as much as possible.
  • Understanding social media in China  The other billion users.   "Chinese social networks and messaging apps are hubs for innovation, featuring a range of video, news, e-commerce and other services. Here is what you need to know about China's social media landscape."
  • Flickr:  Love photos and video?  This is the place for sharing your best.  Connect to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts by default; follow other profiles, join, create and manage interest groups. Choose from free, Pro and monthly accounts.
  • Instagram.  Pretty, pretty, pretty.  Owned by Facebook, Instagram is primarily a mobile device photo sharing service, offering "personal" and "business" accounts, which can be private or public, where you can upload your photos and videos to your account, and also share them to your other connected social media channels.  As a "mobile first" service, and unlike other social media, you can't set up scheduled posts or share within the app, and the number of licensed 3rd party providers able to do so are limited.  However, if you're a shutter bug, and you have a phone camera on you as you work (and who doesn't these days?), then Instagram is a valuable tool for tourism and travel operators to show off their best shots, and also provide behind the scenes insights.  Big Volcano Instagram
  • LinkedIn.  This is where you can handshake online rather than just wave.  Personal profile and CVs/resumes, company pages (after you've proved your personal bona fides) groups, and jobs.  And you can keep your page fresh by sharing your Twitter and blog post wisdom.  The oldest Social Networks network (founded 2002), it predates Facebook by two years, and is considered the "professional" network, although many people now consider the groups a spam fest so ... shrug ... .
  • Pinterest.  You haven't heard of Pinterest, or consider it's just a place for women planning weddings and home renovations?  Well, by 2014 it had already influenced the presentation style of other networks, and there are more look-alike blog themes and web site templates, than you can poke a stick at.  If you're a travel, tourism and hospitality operator, then Pinterest is an excellent 3rd "visual network" (behind Facebook and Instagram), especially if you have lots of images on your web site, or stuck on the hard drive.  Use public boards to show off your pretty pics, share interesting stuff from other places with the browser app, and get web site referrals from pins that you'd forgotten you posted three years ago.

    Drink in the infographic overload, and gather your inspiration and research in one place, away from prying eyes with private boards.  It's the internet watercooler for fun, leisure and seriously ageless promotion and web site referral opportunities.  Here's our Big Volcano Pinterest channel
  • Twitter.  You want it now, you want it all?  Creator of the now ubiquitous hashtag # for keywords, themes and industry targeting, Twitter is the fire hose of thought bubbles in 280 characters or less.  Excellent for "breaking news", following industry trends, colleagues, competitors, and personal interests.  Create lists to manage and follow cohorts.  For hospitality, tourism and travel operators, it's a great way to monitor industry and business issues.  Airlines in particular, use it to flag arrival and departure issues, external events that could impact operations, and to monitor complaints and move them from public to private conversations for resolution.  Here's our ERC twitter feed
  • YouTube.  The world's number two search engine, YouTube is more than lolcats and jackassery.  It's a search engine in its own right, with many people using it for industry presentations, "how to" instructions, PR and marketing, looking for and checking out their next holiday spot, as well as general wasting of time.  Again, many niche and industry markets will have a YouTube presence to augment and enhance other channels, and it's a great place to present your unique voice, now that in-phone video creation and editing tools are freely available.

Content Curation Services

Curation services allow publishers/broadcasters (that's you if you're using any of the above services), to consolidate your work, especially from your twitter accounts and lists, include other publishers and channels, and then publish/reshare it back out to your preferred network/s, for free or a monthly plan.  Most also have Wordpress plug-ins, Chrome (or other web browsers) extensions and bookmarklets.

It's also where you can subscribe to other people's publications and stay up to date with all the news that you might miss otherwise.  Alan Young's Travel Tech Weekly Insights using aggregation service, is a good example.

  • "Making content publishing much more time-efficient and impacting for professionals in general and marketers in particular."
  • The Tweeted Times  "Find, publish and promote content to engage and grow your community, and read your Twitter feed as a personal newspaper."
  •   "Lists made social.  Curate and publish great lists on Listly and on your website."  Limited free option and Pro monthly option for list fiends.

To go even deeper down the aggregation/curation rabbit hole, check out these articles: 11 Content Curation Tools Every Marketer Needs from Hubspot, which is probably a good place to start if you've never thought about or done curation publishing before.  And The Ultimate List of Content Curation Tools and Platforms, will make your head spin when you see how many excellent tools are available, including those listed above.

Usually misquoted as "Privacy is dead - get over it"  it's actually "You have zero privacy - get over it", and it was immortalised way back in 1999 by Scott McNealy, then CEO of Sun Microsystems. See also: State of the Web: Who killed privacy? You did.

Web - Mastering

There are so many resources available now, that a search result will make you head spin.  Here are a few of the places where I got to know a bit more about how it all works, got valuable advise, or picked up free public domain material.

  • Netiquette Guidelines There is such a thing as Netiquette and you ignore it at your peril. This link is to the original RFC (Request For Comment) from 1995. Timeless information for "newbies", veterans and administrators alike, even if the web site is so old now, the appearance verges on being quaint.  See also Ten Basic Rules of Netiquette "Know Your Manners When Using Technology", is an excellent primer for the age of social media and mobile devices.
  • The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University "...houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist with many writing projects. Teachers and trainers may use this material for in-class and out-of-class instruction."  Here's the site-map.  Covers everything you need to know, and lots you didn't know you needed, about academic and professional writing.
  • Moz "Learn SEO from the industry experts".  Or sign up to their Pro services and courses.  As all good SaaS (Software as a Service) providers do, they also offer a generous serving of free SEO tools, guides and articles.
  • Spambot Beware: "There are many ways of hiding your email on a web page. Most of the tricks described here can be combined, and all of them will benefit from some CGI tricks as well."  Yes, there are many newer resources out there now, but Greg Sabino Mullane provides a simple site explaining the many aspects of spam, what to do and just as importantly, what not to do in combating it. 
  • World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C. The overlords and arbiters of common web language, style and behaviour. If you design/write web pages you should visit occasionally to ensure your code is up to date so we all get to see your pearls of wisdom.  Much technical sysadmin stuff, but also a number of tools to test your code against the current standards.  A good place to get an overview of who, what, where, when, why and how.
  • Sitepoint "Get 300+ Books & Courses from the World's Best Tech Publishers".  Whether you're a beginner or seasoned pro who wants to learn more, Sitepoint is a great starting point.  (We've purchased hardcopy and PDF books, and courses.)
  • The Web Robots Pages How to allow or prevent search engines and spiders (the polite ones at least) from indexing pages, directories or whole sites.
  • The Search Engine Report. " a monthly newsletter that covers developments with search engines and changes to the Search Engine Watch web site."
  • Udemy" the leading global marketplace for teaching and learning, connecting students everywhere to the world's best instruction anywhere."  Have logged more than few courses here.  Great resource.  And if you feel overwhelmed with the "how do I choose which course to take?" question, here is Udemy's own "How to Preview And Compare Courses", and an outsider's view "How to Find the Best Udemy Courses".
  • WebmasterWorld" one of the World's leading educational news and discussion forums for webmasters to discuss topics related to all aspects professional web mastery."
  • Learn WordPress  "You've got a blog.  Huzzah!   Time to make it the next internet sensation. Whether you want to be a pro or just need to get the hang of the basics, you've come to the right place."  And if you dip your toe in the water with a free account, you'll also have a free plug-in which you can set up to share your blog posts to your primary Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Mailchimp accounts.  Publish once - broadcast many.  Huzzah again!

Useful Services

Here are a few online services I've found useful over the years.  Like so many useful tools, they're free to use, with some also offering affordable paid subscriptions for power users.

  • Knowem? "KnowEm allows you to check for the use of your brand, product, personal name or username instantly on over 500 popular and emerging social media websites. Grab your name and secure your brand before someone else does." There are lots of brand/username/name checker sites out there now, but one of the oldest is Knowem.  If you're serious about your brand name, and want to make sure the major bases are covered, including US trademarks, then this service is very useful.  And of course, you can also pay them (a very reasonable fee) to set up your accounts for you, if you've got better things to do with your time.
  • Snaggy "is the fastest way to share a screenshot without needing to download or install anything. It's designed with your workflow in mind by using only a minimum number of keypresses to share your images."   No commercial or public options, but a useful service to share something on-the-fly, if other screenshot apps or programmes are a hassle.
  • Uptime Robot. "Downtime Happens. Get Notified! 50 Monitors, Checked Every 5 Minutes, Totally Free!"  I've been using this service for years, and it's excellent. The developer updates the performance and features on a regular basis. If you're a DIY webmaster, it's invaluable to keep tabs on your server uptime, and if you're a pro, then the "Pro" features are useful and valuable.
  • WeTransfer "was founded in 2009 as the simplest way to send big files around the world. Today we're a set of beautifully obvious tools to keep your ideas moving."  When ever I want to send big files, I use WeTransfer.
  • Grass Trees, Tweed Valley, NSW

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