Here’s the latest column from MediaPost. Any time you’re up for some bhaktsa marku, send me a note.
Over the weekend, under the gaze of a painting of the Dalai Lama
at Tibetan Kitchen, I savored my dessert of bhaktsa
marku while thinking of all the search engines that helped get me
to that place. And by “that place” I don’t mean the Tibetan
restaurant, but rather my new Manhattan neighborhood where my wife and I dined
out for the first time as residents. Below are ten search engines that helped
with the moving process.
This is the first search engine we used; it’s how my wife found our real estate
broker. What’s funny is that my wife, a lawyer working for New York City
Department of Health, thought to use LinkedIn when it hadn’t occurred to me.
There are a lot of real estate sites out there, but for New York City,
StreetEasy seemed to have the most comprehensive information about apartment
listings presented in the most navigable format. The blog Curbed
also came in handy when digging up dirt on buildings, especially a few new
construction units we considered.
Maps: It’s even better now for New Yorkers with subway directions. Before
it launched, I’d often turn to HopStop
to figure out how to get to the various listings.
What was the name of that moving company I used a couple years ago? Where did I
buy boxes? I often think of Delicious as my second brain, the more organized
one with fewer memory leaks. I posted some real estate-related sites in my
public bookmarks, while I hid other links, such as for specific apartment
I’ve used this reverse auction site for several consecutive moves. You list
what you have to move and get bids for your job, only disclosing your contact
information when you’re ready. There are some checks for verified reviews to
add to its trustworthiness.
I’ve been doing a lot of product research for the move, from home office
supplies to electronics upgrades. All searches included Amazon, as did a number
of the purchases. Their reliability remains strong for delivering what they’re
supposed to in a reasonable amount of time. They didn’t win all my business,
though; I completed a couple of the larger transactions elsewhere.
Reviews: Every time I searched for an electronics product, I wound up on
CNET. It wasn’t always intentional; sometimes I’d use a search engine to find
product reviews and CNET would rank prominently in the natural results. CNET
helped me rethink which flat-screen TV to buy, and it recommended other
products like speakers that I had no plans on buying.
Product Search: Google managed to be Amazon’s biggest competitor for my
new-home shopping. The thousands of reviews of merchants added enough of a
degree of trustworthiness so that it was more feasible to explore alternatives
to the Amazon default. I also gravitated toward merchants that accepted Google
Checkout, which I used more in the past two months than I ever have just so I
didn’t have to register with a seller for a one-time small-ticket purchase.
and Barrel: The on-site search engine here got enough use that it helped
turn our apartment into a satellite showroom.
The most important question a New Yorker faces when moving is figuring out
where to eat (what’s the point of living here if you’re more than a few blocks
from a good bagel, pizza, or sushi source?). Where I moved, an area
affectionately dubbed Curry Hill for its abundance of Indian restaurants, is
one of those neighborhoods that suffers from too many options rather than too
few, so MenuPages helps narrow the field.
All of these engines competed with one other major source: word of
mouth. It was word of mouth that led us to our real estate lawyer and mortgage
broker. Word of mouth also won out for specialized purchases such as a folding
bicycle. Search engines still won the day overall, though, beating out word-of-mouth
recommendations for a real estate broker, moving company, and television.
But everything was interconnected. We found the
real estate broker on LinkedIn who introduced us to the lawyer, and the lawyer
referred us to the mortgage broker. None of it happened in a vacuum. Right,
vacuum… one more thing I need to buy, which I’ll have to search for — unless
you have any good recommendations.
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