* How To Find Cool Stuff

Art Mellor retires Cool List after 14.5 years.

For the last 14.5 years, my MIT friend Art Mellor has been running the Cool List, an email list of cool and uncool stuff. Art is a skillful editor, and I have never belonged to any mailing list longer. Art also described the web to me before it was invented, imagining an online database where the world’s information was at your fingertips. Well, we’ve got that now, and Art’s Cool List has made it fun to read about the cool stuff. But the Cool List has run its course, and Art is putting it on ice. He asked us to send one more submission to him, telling where we find cool stuff on the Internet. Here’s mine.

Magazines and Newspapers

Magazines and newspapers are dying as they are supplanted by their digital counterparts. But I still read a few. And I still find the occasional cool thing in print. When I do, I rip out the page and put it in my “fodder” (i.e. to blog) file. Here’s what I regularly read:

Email and Social Networking

I’ve got about 8800 names in my contacts database, and many of them send me cool stuff. I’m on MySpace, FaceBook, and LinkedIn, with about 300 total contacts.

Besides the Cool List, I only subscribe to a handful of mailing list. The xBBN list (for former BBN employees) sometimes produces cool stuff.


Some of my clients have cool products and services:

  • BzzAgent does cool word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Call-Em-All has a cool phone service that allows you to record a phone message and send it to a distribution list.
  • Comrex makes cool hardware and software for radio stations.
  • gehuman publishes a cool database of toll-free phone numbers with instructions for contacting a real live person on the phone.
  • GuildCafe is a cool social networking site for gamers.
  • Helium is a cool online encyclopedia where writers get paid to write and readers rate articles, so the best knowledge rises to the top.
  • Shoe Club is a cool social networking club for shoe lovers.
  • Kayak is a cool travel search engine.
  • OurStage is a cool web-based platform for artists to showcase their art and fans to vote on the best stuff. Kind of like American Idol on the web. Except cooler.
  • PawSpot is a cool social networking site for pet lovers.
  • SiteSpect makes cool software for testing and improving the ROI of websites.

Websites and Bookmarks

I’ve been bookmarking websites since 1994. My bookmarks file is highly organized. I bookmark my bookmarks file. I’ve been “tagging” my bookmarks file with keywords before “tagging” was a verb. I review my bookmarks file at least annually. I have a “to blog” folder for stuff that I want to write about.

I have a folder of random URL generators. Sometimes I’ll open all of them in separate tabs in Firefox, searching for new or interesting stuff:


Last but not least: blogs. I like blogs and feed readers (I prefer Google Reader) because the websites come to me, rather than me having to go to the websites. My blogroll includes the sites that I read daily:

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