A post on Mashable this week has revived the #lazyweb hashtag on Twitter. While it is true that you can find just about anything on Google these days, it is also true that in many cases you need to know what you're looking for. If you know absolutely nothing about the topic or industry you need to research, you might not even know what search terms to use or which sources are credible.
That's where the idea of "crowdsourcing" your search can come in handy - and save time. In the style of the original "Ask Jeeves," (now Ask.com) and "Computer" on the Star Ship Enterprise, you simply type in the question that is on your mind, and (hopefully) people who actually have interest and knowledge on your topic will be able to point you in the right direction, and give helpful information, resources, and links.
While this can be a "lazy" way to do research, it can also be a very smart way to do research when handled properly - i.e. for information that you CANNOT easily find on Google using the very same question you just typed into Twitter. To try the #lazyweb, simply sign into Twitter, type your question followed by #lazyweb (your entire question including the hashtag will need to be 140 characters or less). Then wait to see if you receive any replies. Replies will begin with @YourUsername, and hopefully contain links or ideas for further research.
For more on #hashtags, see the WebRev #hashtag archive and for more info about online research in general, see our online research archive.
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking.