Posts Tagged ‘strategies’


Twitter seems to be quite the rage in the blogosphere nowadays.  This past summer, Time magazine featured an article highlighting the benefits of this social software.  The advantages of Twitter lie in its social networking, live searching, and link sharing capabilities–elements that can certainly rival a popular search engine whose name begins with the letter G.

Check out Commoncraft’s latest tutorial on using Twitter search.  With more Web 2.0 tools populating the Internet, it will be interesting to see how to harness the power of these resources to find information a lot faster in ways that general Web search engines cannot.


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At the heart of one of library science’s “secret strategies” lies an online searching technique for finding materials (e.g., books, movies, journal articles, etc.) of similar content or subject matter known as pearl growing or pearl culturing.  In the days before online library catalogs, this was referred to as following subject tracings. Remember the good old card catalog containing cards with subject headings typewritten at the bottom in a Courier font that led you to other cards in another drawer?

Basically it works like this: You’re looking for book, and you stumble across one in the library catalog. When you click on the record, you find other Library of Congress Subject Headings attached to that record, so you begin clicking on those subject headings which lead you to other items that may share similar information that was contained in the first book you had originally discovered. The challenge lies in figuring out under which category (e.g., subject heading) the item was placed.

How does pearl culturing apply to the Web? Well, some search engines already have subject directories built into them. The subject directories for Google and Yahoo, for instance, contain categorized listings of sites that have been selected and evaluated by human editors instead of search engine spiders. Some of the all-time reputable and popular subject directories include Best of the Web, Infomine, Librarians’ Internet Index and the Open Directory Project.

Subject directories like Librarians’ Internet Index and Infomine are especially useful since you can access a bibliographic record for each indexed Web site and examine the subject headings to locate similar sites.

To illustrate how this all works, check out Mary Ellen Bates’s article on pearl culturing.

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Reading the Fine Print

The good things in life often go unnoticed and unseen.  The same concept applies to Web sites, search engines, and other Web resources.  Quick:  If you were to access the sites for the Washington Post or San Francisco Chronicle, how long would it take you to find the links to their RSS feeds or podcasts?  (Give it a try and time yourself.)

I often remind students that the good stuff is either hidden or in really small print.  For instance, can you find the “Advanced Search” link for the Yahoo search engine from the home page?  Hint: CLick on the Web search button without entering any keywords into the search box.  Or try locating the “Advanced Search” link from San Francisco Public Library’s home pageHint: Click on the “Search Catalog” button.

When navigating the Web, sometimes your best friend might be “Ctrl+F,” which helps you find strings of text on a Web page.  On most Web browsers, you can use this key combination or find it from the Edit menu.  Use it to find RSS feeds and podcast links, archives links, contact information, and other fine print information.  This nifty tip is especially practical for finding camouflaged information on content-rich sites like Craigslist or Arts & Letter Daily.

Just remember that for whatever reasons, these hidden links can usually lead you to even more powerful tools and resources.  The challenge, however, is knowing where to locate them first.

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