Information Retrieval

Burn the Catalog!

madcow writes "An academic at Swarthmore gives a pretty succinct critique of the problems of information overload and the library catalog. "I’m to the point where I think we’d be better off to just utterly erase our existing academic catalogs and forget about backwards-compatibility...""

The "forgetting curve"--NASA

bentley writes "The Los Angeles Times ran a thorough six-part series (Dec. 21-26) about the space shuttle Columbia. In part 4, there is a section about the importance of institutional memory. ........................

Earthquake database shakeup

rteeter writes "On a day when a magnitude 6.5 quake hit California comes word that Earthquake Engineering Abstracts, which had been a free database at UC Berkeley, will soon become a fee-based database at Cambridge Scientific Abstracts."

NY Times Newsroom Homepage

Gary Deane sent us a link to a list of web resources recommended by the New York Times. It's quite a collection of links, including sections for Net Search, Journalism, Politics, Sports, and Miscellany.

Don't use Google exclusively, but don't count it out, either.

David Dillard invites us to read his lengthy post on NetGold about how search engines, while not the end-all of research, do have their place in scholarly information retrieval. Specifically, he was looking for references to the term "Tourismification" in order to respond to a discussion thread in a sociology forum. He had no luck with the social science databases he normally turns to, but Google found him paydirt: Notice the Google search picked up in the
first ten records sampled mostly scholarly work.... Peer reviewed literature may be much more palitable [sic] to the academic scholar in terms of
its academic ethnic heritage, and the World Wide Web may be viewed as having been raised on the bad side of town. Nevertheless, not looking at
all possible search tools for a topic, particularly a hard to find topic may only result in impoverishment of the search result, and we all know that low income can send publications to live in the bad side of town.

Search Better: Go Back to the Library

Lois writes "PC Magazine's cover story in the May 27 issue is "How to Find Anything Online," by Sean Carroll. It contains many useful tidbits, including comparisons of search engines.

One tip in the "Search Better" section of the article should be of special interest. It's called, "Go Back to the Library". It reminds readers that "Library reference departments are still great sources of information, even in today's online environment. Many of the indexes, directories, and encyclopedias you used in print have been reformatted and are available online." It encourages them to "ask a reference librarian to help you get started, since each library's collections and policies are unique."

It also points out that "Anyone can put up a Web page. Library databases are created by well-known publishers and are evaluated carefully by librarians before they are purchased." So library databases are a good source for quality information.

PEEPs in the Library

"Although scientific and health research has been conducted on Peeps, most notably that appearing on the Peep Research website (see, we have noted an absence of research focusing on the ability of Peeps themselves to actually do research. To address this lack, we invited a small group of Peeps to visit Staley Library at Millikin University during the week of March 17-21, 2003 so that we could more closely observe their research practices. This was determined to be an ideal week for the Peeps to visit the library, as Millikin University students were on spring break. The research that follows documents their visit to the library and provides some evaluative commentary on our assessment of Peeps and library usage.Read On For The Full Project "

Columbia Disaster & the Internet

RedLineIs writes \"Even in the midst of sorrow and disaster, internet information offers some solace and support. Two links from the Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJournal “Best of the WebToday” concerning the loss of the astronauts on the space shuttle Columbia are illuminating.
The first, “The Web Gets a Scoop”, notes that first word of the disaster “didn\'t come across the Associated Press wire until 9:16, the scheduled landing time. Free Republic scooped the AP by at least 11 minutes--which is an eternity in the competitive world of wire-service reporting.”
The second, “The Price of Appeasement”, brings to world’s eyes a drawing entitled “Moon Landscape” that was carried on Columbia. It was the work of Peter Ginz, who was murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz in 1944. “Peter was 14, so if he had lived, he would be about 10 years younger than John Glenn. Who knows--if the West had stopped Hitler earlier, Peter Ginz just might have grown up to become an astronaut.” The original work is now lost, of course, but because of digital libraries and the internet, the artist and his work can be remembered by all. Additional information is available in a press release from the museum which held the work, “Holocaust-era Art from Yad Vashem’s Collection sent into space with Israeli Astronaut” \"

Genealogy Exploding Online

Gary Deane was kind enough to point at \"This NYTimes Story that says online genealogy sites have amassed more than a million paid subscriptions and annual revenue approaching the $100 million level.

\"The Internet has really fueled this activity because it\'s made it easy to transfer data, collaborate and do research without traveling around,\" said Curt Witcher, president of the National Genealogical Society. \"It\'s been phenomenal.\"

Meta search engines

Sabrina Pacifici writes \"The Meta Search Engines: A Web Searcher\'s Best Friends, by Daniel Bazac, takes on the topic of the often maligned meta search engines. He reviews a wide range of services according to: the amount and the relevance of their results, their capability to handle advanced searches, their ability to enable users to customize searches, and the speed of their searches. New on LLRX for September 16, 2002.


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