When Russia invaded Ukraine, it filled my brain with questions: What will this do for existing disinformation operations and information warfare? How will social media companies respond? Will social media companies and social media company employees respond in a complementary way? What about ostensibly neutral sources like Wikipedia? What will all the Russian influencers and YouTubers do?
And then, since I’ve been doing ResearchBuzz for almost 24 years, my questions took a different tack: What about all the cultural heritage? Are Ukraine’s monuments going to suffer the same fate as the Buddhas of Bamiyan? Who are the people who are protecting the archives and figuring out how to keep Ukraine’s culture safe? (I know they exist and I know they’re doing their best, that’s not a question.)
Maybe you have similar questions about Russia and Ukraine. Maybe you have questions more specific to your interests. I’ve been indexing news about Russia and Ukraine since the invasion, with a separate newsletter since March 9. In this article I’m going to outline how you can use ResearchBuzz and ResearchBuzz Firehose to stay informed about Russia and Ukraine for various topics.Topics not included: politics, military strength, finance, business, etc. Topics included: disinformation, information warfare, social media, search engines, Internet culture, OSINT, cultural heritage, etc.
ResearchBuzz is my main site. I’ve been writing about search engines and online information collections since 1996 and started the site/blog in 1998. The “official” domain is ResearchBuzz.com but it resolves to ResearchBuzz.me so I’ll be using that domain name for this article. ResearchBuzz publishes full articles and newsletters.
ResearchBuzz Firehose started in 2015. It indexes individual items from the ResearchBuzz newsletters and thoroughly tags them. It’s available at RBFirehose.com . It only publishes individual items, not newsletters or full articles. However, the plethora of tags makes it great for specific content monitoring. (Obviously a site filled with content hand-curated by one person is not going to compare to a search engine. On the other hand, ResearchBuzz Firehose has over 59,000 indexed articles so it covers at least a little ground.)
Please note that these instructions are only for those who are looking for specific content and don’t want to read all the ResearchBuzz and RB Firehose output. If you just want to read everything, you can go to ResearchBuzz and/or RB Firehose and find both an email newsletter sign-up form and an RSS link in the right column. It’s free, there are no ads, and the RSS feed is full-text.
Get the Basic Info Goodies
For regular newsletters about Ukraine: These go out whenever I index 12 relevant items. Currently that’s at least once a day and occasionally twice. The newsletters can be found at https://researchbuzz.me/tag/ukraine/ . That’s a Web page. If you’d rather have a dynamic RSS feed, you can use https://researchbuzz.me/tag/ukraine/feed/ .
For specific articles about Ukraine: Those are available via ResearchBuzz Firehose at https://rbfirehose.com/tag/ukraine/ . You can also get this page as an RSS feed at https://rbfirehose.com/tag/ukraine/feed/ .
Get the Specific Info Goodies
I consider the WordPress tag search setup to be underappreciated. You can set up fairly complex searches just by adding things to an URL. Let’s start with the base search for finding the latest news on Ukraine on ResearchBuzz Firehose:
You can add additional tags to the search by appending an + to the end of Ukraine and adding more tags. For example, this will search for articles tagged with both Ukraine and disinformation:
You can find tags at the end of each indexed item on RB Firehose if you’re looking for ideas. If you can’t find a tag you’re looking for, use the search form in the right column to run a full-text search. That should take you to an appropriate article, which should in turn guide you to useful tags.
If you want to add a tag that’s a phrase, use hyphens instead of spaces when putting it in the URL:
Can you search several tags at a time? Sure.
Each of these URLs is a Web page, but you can make any of them an RSS feed by appending /feed/ to the end of the URL.
These tag searches should suffice if you’re monitoring general topics, but if you’re looking for really specific things (like town names, or surnames) then you might need to use the full-text search. Use the search form in the right column to run your search. The URL looks like this:
You can monitor that as a static page, or get an RSS feed by adding &feed=rss to the end: