One goal - Turn up the volume on the transportation conversation in Los Angeles.
Back in 2005, we started aggregating transportation news for a demo of blogging in Transportation at the January 2006 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in DC. At the time, we were nearly alone except for General Motors, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in Oakland, California. MTC covered the Bay Area's transportation issues, so we took on Southern California. It was a good day if we found 8-10 articles to link to.
We have now assembled some of our sources into Paper.li using a combo of Twitter Lists, Facebook, Google+, Flickr, YouTube and RSS feeds to automate the process. The layout looks a little different; it's no longer an alphabetized list, and its no longer moderated article by article. It saves us hours of valuable staff time and also money we were spending with email management systems. Take a look at http://headlines.metroprimaryresources.info to see the tabloid layout of our sources, mainly twitter driven, and if you would like to subscribe, hit the blue "+subscribe button" in the upper right, just below the banner.
Transportation information sources online have grown dramatically since we first started, and we're truly overwhelmed. There a huge array of choices to suit your particular transit, transport, or transportation interests via websites, blogs, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, Paper.li, Facebook, Google+, email alerts and RSS feeds.
For years we had selected news items by hand from a combination of Google News Alerts with an ever changing list of keywords, and RSS feeds from reliable blogs. If you really only care about one or a few specific subjects, Google Alerts is your best option for tracking your particular interest. Yahoo! also offers alerts. Yahoo! indexes fewer news sources than Google, but some of them are sources exclusive to Yahoo!.
You might want consider creating an alert with the same keyword, or a phrase in quotes, for each. You will need a Gmail and/or Yahoo! email account to access these services. Most blogs now have an email alert option for subscriptions to content. To our surprise, most of these sources still remain free, however, we are seeing an increase in pay-for-access content with more and more newspapers as that industry continues to claw back its lost revenues.
If you are a Twitter user, consider creating your own newspaper out of your favorite twitter accounts, or subscribing to one already made through Paper.li - If you have the time and/or the staff resources, inspect the auto-generated content and then moderate it before sending it out. Install the "+Paper.li" tool on your bookmarks bar and while browsing your news, add relevant content to your Paper.li for others to enjoy, and then promote the most important item up to the top using the edt function. Paper.li makes a great RSS reader if you regularly read less than 25 sources. One "source" could be a twitter list of many other twitter accounts, so the true limit of sources is actually much larger.
Here is a list of transit and transportation news sites that we subscribe to via email updates:
MTC/ABAG Library's Transportation Headlines - covers the Northern California's Bay Area and is mostly linked to newspaper published news.
The Direct Transfer - Well organized into categories: Transport, Urbanism and Design, Urban Issues, Environment & Ecology, and Other views. National and international in scope.
StreetsBlog Network - Covers transit, bicycling, walking, public space, and bike sharing in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, DC, and San Francisco.
The Transport Politic - written, edited, designed, and produced by Yonah Freemark, covers rail and related political issues.
The Atlantic - Cities
AASHTO Daily Transportation Update
The Transport Industry Daily
also see our Blogs list, Journals list, and our Advocacy list.
Here is our Keyword List we use for the individual Google & Yahoo! Alerts/RSS feeds that we select news items from:
"Blue Line" +"Los Angeles", "Green Line" +"Los Angeles, "Gold Line", "Measure R", "Subway +"Los Angeles", "Los Angeles +"Union Station", "Red Line" +"Los Angeles", "Purple Line" +"Los Angeles", "Expo Line", "Alameda Corridor", "America Fast Forward", Art Leahy, California High Speed Rail, "Caltrans" + "Los Angeles", Congestion Pricing, Crenshaw Corridor, "Leimert Station", Exposition Light Rail, Foothill Transit, Freeway Service Patrol, High Desert Corridor, HOT Lanes, LADOT, Long Beach Transit, Los Angeles Bicycling, Los Angeles Commuters, Los Angeles Congestion, Los Angeles Freeway, Los Angeles Freight Movement, Los Angeles Goods Movement, Los Angeles MTA, Los Angeles Rail, Los Angeles Subway, Los Angeles Traffic Congestion, Los Angeles Transit, Los Angeles Transportation, Los Angeles World Airports, Metrolink, Montebello Bus, OmniTransi, OCTA, Orange County +Transit, Port of Long Beach, Port of Los Angeles, Regional Connector, RCTC, Riverside Transit, SanBAG, Santa Monica Bus, Torrance Transit, VCTC, Ventura County Transportation Commission, Westside Subway.
So that's it. No magical secret method. No paid news aggregation services. We did it by hand, like raising heirloom tomatoes, for many years. We tried to keep our blog and email's Los Angeles transportation theme as local as we could. Good content for you and others takes human interaction, selection, curation, and relentless focus. Transportation is a multidisciplinary field; good content can come from some very unexpected places. Taking a multidisciplinary field and then trying to keep it geographically specific is challenging and something very few others, if anyone, will take the time to do.
Our goal is the same today as it was in 2005 - Turn up the volume on the transportation conversation in Los Angeles.
--Metro Transportation Library Staff