New things to try in 2013

Phil Bradley recommends we try some new tools - or revisit ones we may previously have rejected.

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The start of a new year is always heralded with a rush of enthusiasm to make a fresh start, change old habits and begin new ones. This is of course supposed to happen on the very first day of the new year, but I suspect that you've already tried that. By now your resolutions will have stuck (well done), or failed miserably, so either way, it's time to try some new ones. Here are a few ideas to consider trying in the coming weeks and months.

Explore a new search engine

We all use Google, and being realistic here, we're all going to continue to use Google, so any resolution that attempted to exclude the search giant from our day to day work would simply fail at the first hurdle. So rather than attempt to wean yourself off the 800 pound gorilla, try and dilute its effect on your life by trying one or two other search engines now and then.

If you want to stay with the absolutely tried and tested, take a look at Bing which has a similar look and feel, so you won't feel entirely out of sorts. However, if you'd like to take a rather bigger step, have a look at DuckDuckGo or Blekko. Both have been gaining considerable traction in the last year or so - DuckDuckGo because it doesn't track your searches, so your privacy is ensured, and Blekko with its 'slash the web' policy, meaning that you can create what are essentially your own private (or public if you prefer) search engines based on their index. Both engines are fast, effective and will give you good results. Before you say "I don't have time to learn how to use a new search engine" it's worth remembering that you had time to learn Google, and none of these alternatives has a steep learning curve.

Try Google+ [again]

Having suggested leaving Google behind, I always like to be even handed, so I'm going to suggest that it's worth taking another look at Google+.  With the advent of the Communities option I've found that G+ has suddenly become really useful for me, and I'm visiting it every day now, instead of the once a week that I'd been doing before. I'm a member of lots of different communities, from personal hobby based ones such as Dr Who, through to Libraries and Librarians.  In fact, I'm so impressed with them, I've created a couple myself, so if you're interested in Internet Search or the UK Library Community do please come along and take a look. I've found the communities that I'm a member of very useful and informative. Everyone is keen to get involved and be helpful, but there's always room for more people, so take a look; this might be the one thing that tips you over the edge into making Google+ part of your daily activity.

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