Dean's Digital World (Sources
By Dean Tudor
Searching on the Internet: Hear
As readers will remember, one of my favourite researchers on the
Internet is Tara Calashain. She is the author of "Google Hacks",
which I reviewed here last time. She's also the owner of ResearchBuzz,
a damn good site, which keeps up with the latest happenings on the
Internet vis-à-vis web searches and resources. Her domain
is www.researchbuzz.com. You can sign up for a free weekly newsletter
and you can have lots of access to plenty of archives.
In many ways, Tara keeps Google up-to-date with her user searches
and her explanations. She constantly reviews new techniques for
finding stuff through Ask Jeeves, Yahoo, Libraries and Media. Just
recently, she did a thorough analysis of free E-mail accounts at
Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo. She also has free PDFs for download, which
attempt to keep her books and discourses up-to-date. One example
of a PDF is "Seven Ways to Save Time Searching"; another
is "Things That Yahoo and Google Can't Do". Brilliant
material. Through her column, I found out about the metasearch for
Trademark Regulations at www.markenbusiness.com. Here you can search
for US, Canadian, Mexican, WIPO, EU trademarks. A great boon for
due diligence searchers.
Her latest book is Web Search Garage (Prentice-Hall, 2005,
236 pages, ISBN 0-13-147148-1, $28.99 paper covers) which was released
in August 2004. Unfortunately, Prentice-Hall has fallen victim to
the insidious trick of forward dating the copyright notice (here,
2005) in an attempt to promote the book's currency. Shame, shame
wrote her first book about the Internet in 1996; this is now her
third or fourth. It is mainly about both how to frame queries and
where the answers can be found. The table of contents show chapters
describing search engines and their characteristics, plus browser
capabilities (but nothing on Mozilla's Firefox, which came out too
late for inclusion in this book). She has a huge section on the
"principles of searching" - ten of them, helping you find
what you need faster. These principles of Internet search present
strategies to do your searching efficiently, no matter what search
engine or other search resources you're using.
She tells how to narrow searches to get a manageable number of
results, while still finding what you want, to find experts and
preexisting research for the topics in which you're interested,
how to evaluate search resources for credibility, how to discover
new resources and search engines relevant to the topics in which
In addition, people use the Internet for about ten common search
scenarios. She thus covers jobs, genealogy, people, audio-visual
graphics and images, local information, medical information and
drugs, kid-safe searches, purchases (consumers), ready reference,
and, of course, news. The book has a nice layout, with chunks of
information and sidebars somewhat like Dummy books. There is an
Certainly one New Yorker could use Internet searches. Earlier this
year, an artist created a mosaic of historical figures for a public
library in Livermore, California. Unfortunately, there were 11 misspellings,
such as Eistein, Shakespere, Michaelangelo, and Van Gough. At first,
the artist refused to correct the mistakes, even at city expense.
But then she did, even though she felt put upon and suggested that
complaints were directed at her because she had made money for doing
Another of my favourite researchers on the Internet is free-lance
librarian Marylaine Block, who writes a column called "The
Finder's Keepers" for The CyberSkeptic's Guide to Internet
Research. Her domain Web site has full details <marylaine.com>.
She also puts out a free weekly newsletter Neat New Stuff (over
7500 subscribers; details at her Web site) which comments on new
Web sites and their developments. She has ExLibris, an e-zine for
librarians and other information junkies. ExLibris is more narrative,
with interviews of other Web searchers and researchers, points of
view on the Internet, and search strategies. Both these services
have permanent archives at her site. She has good notes on how to
analyze Web sites, and I would like to paraphrase them:
- look for an "about this site" page; this should explain
the purpose, scope, sponsor, funding, credits. The Internet is
all about trust and credibility.
- look for some element of selection criteria applied to any section
of links. (In my own opinion, too many links are merely reciprocal).
- look for a site map or index for a sense of structure, of how
to satisfy both searchers and browsers.
- look for navigation bars with some sort of topical outlines.
- look for primary functions, such as "original content"
or a unique means of access, or "archives" or "directory"
or "links". Does it use any metasearch engines?
- drill your way through every topic in the navigation bars, checking
to see if they are logical or related or both. Is the navigation
intuitive and transparent?
- check on the currency of dates and the unbroken links.
- look for different services (e.g., different search engines)
being provided to different communities (e.g., browsers, searchers,
- look for the unusual but informative linkages, which probably
are hidden or buried; these may need to be highlighted.
- for heavy duty analysis, try running searches throughout the
Web site and through the larger search engines such as Google,
to see what can be traced.
- also for heavy duty analysis, keep a paper trail by either printing
out a record of what you've done or saving screen shots to a folder.
- ask yourself questions: would I find what I need at this site?
and would I find it easily?
The problem of forward dating has not yet reared its ugly head
on the Internet, and logically there is no real need for it since
currency is immediate and not fixed in print as a book can be. But
I just got a couple of books from Wiley, a text publisher that uses
forward dating. In the book business, information is fixed in print,
chiseled in stone. There is no way to change it without re-printing
the whole book. The matter is exacerbated by having to close off
the book at some point so that it can be printed and indexed. It
still takes a couple of months for an indexed book to be printed
and released through the delivery systems. Add to this the forward
dating concept and at some point, the book is going to be out-of-date
in terms of its copyright notice.
One such book I got was Canada: Year in Review 2004 from
the Canadian Press and John Wiley (163 pages, ISBN 0-470-83529-X,
$18.99 paper covers). It is edited by Patti Tasko of CP. The overview
topics includes politics, regions of Canada, business and finance,
sports, crime, health and science, lifestyles, Canada on the international
scene, arts and entertainment, obituaries, and oddities (why this?).
There are lots of colour photos, all of which can be ordered separately
(see the last page of the book). But the text and photos cover just
to the beginning of September, at least for Olympic pictures and
TIFF in Toronto. No specific dates are mentioned, just the month.
There is no coverage for the last four months of 2004, nor is there
any coverage for the last four months of 2003. That at least would
have made a year or twelve months of coverage. Missing then are
topics such as the sub Chicoutimi, the NHL lockout, the Giller prize,
the US election's impact on Canada. The book looks as if it was
meant for schools and libraries. No index, of course. But at least
the book was copyrighted for 2004.
Another Wiley book is Canadian Global Almanac 2005 Edition
(912 pages, ISBN 0-470-83523-0, $18.99 paper covers), an annual
of some distinction. Almanacs are generally published with the date
in their title, a date for which they can be USED, and not the coverage
date. This almanac has "all the facts you need about Canada
and the World". There are 37 more pages than the 2004 edition,
but the price has been increased by three dollars. It has all things
Canadian, with lots of data squeezed into small print: economy,
entertainment, famous Canadians, geography, government and politics,
statistics, science, sports, plus global and world events. The current
events for 2004 section has been moved ahead in the book, but it
is still actually just October 1 (2003) through September 30 (2004).
Thus, no Chicoutimi, no Gillers, no US election. It does mention
specific dates. And, sadly, the copyright date is 2005. For what
it is, I can highly recommend the book to every researcher, for
its bargain price. But it is a shame to see a forward dated copyright
notice; there is no valid reason for this. Indeed, it borders on
Dean Tudor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sources, 489 College
Street, Suite 201, Toronto, ON M6G 1L9.
Phone: (416) 964-7799 FAX: (416) 964-8763
Include yourself in Sources
Mailing Lists and
Media Names & Numbers
Names & Numbers