inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #76 of 166: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 20 Oct 98 13:48
    
I hope I haven't given anybody any ideas about putting ads in books via
screenshots....  it's almost amazing that it isn't the case. Thanks.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #77 of 166: this bag is not a toy (vard) Tue 20 Oct 98 22:15
    


My favorite screenshots in books are still <mtrbike>'s screenshots about 
ostrich care.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #78 of 166: Gary Gach (ggg) Tue 20 Oct 98 22:24
    
I didn't mean finding images, I meant searching visually, such as
www.perspecta.com --- as in three-dimensional data fields ...

'tho image-finders, I admit, don't exactly grow on trees either...
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #79 of 166: Erik Van Thienen (levant) Wed 21 Oct 98 01:50
    

I see. It works like an Automatic filter in some databases.
But you seem to be limited to the keywords hardwired in the
interface.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #80 of 166: Reva Basch (reva) Wed 21 Oct 98 08:31
    
You mean visual representation of data, then, Gary? Lucent is working on a
very cool project, and I've seen demos -- Excalibur is another, I think --
of other products that cluster similar data types either spatially or by
color or some other, intuitive seeming, visual cues. You can then navigate
among those data clusters in a 3-D-like way.

Is Perspecta a fully web-based product? If it is, I'll definitely have to
check it out; I wasn't aware of any data visualization products that worked,
at this point, on anything but proprietary document collections.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #81 of 166: Reva Basch (reva) Wed 21 Oct 98 16:31
    
I just checked out Perspecta, briefly. Only a matter of time til we see this
kind of more helpful depiction of search results applied to the open web. I
hope so, anyway.

Nobody asked, I don't think, but another way of improving your search engine
results is to enter the most unusual or unique words first, or the terms you
consider most important, versus "nice to have."

So we've got those rules of thumb, the plus sign to indicate terms that must
appear in your results, and good ol' phrase searching -- four (three?)
pretty easy and straightforward ways to make your search results more
relevant.

Somebody ask me about alternatives to the search engine approach, huhh?
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #82 of 166: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Wed 21 Oct 98 17:49
    
Gee, Reva, what can you tell us about alternatives to search engines?
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #83 of 166: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Wed 21 Oct 98 19:09
    

You won't believe that I was just coming to this conference specifically to
ask Reva what I should ask her.  Steve is away for a few days, and let's be
honest I am a mere techno-idiot.

So, Reva:  Alternatives to search engines?  Like say I want to find the
pedigree of a dog just for example?
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #84 of 166: Declined To State (jrc) Thu 22 Oct 98 10:03
    

Reva, this is all entirely useful. I thank you so very much.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #85 of 166: Reva Basch (reva) Thu 22 Oct 98 10:20
    
I had a FEELING somebody was gonna ask me about alternatives to search
engines!

Okay, the first big alternative is subject catalogs, like Yahoo, or like the
A to Z categories that you'll now find at most major search engine sites
(see, they realize, too, that throwing a few words into a search engine and
hoping for the best isn't necessarily the most productive way to go). The
idea is that you start with a broad category, like Business or Travel, or,
in Plum's example, maybe Animals or Pets. You might have to poke around a
little to find the right starting point, but it's pretty intuitive. The
subheadings, which are usually listed right under the main headings, will
give you a clue. You can often use the search engine to search only

the listings at that site, as opposed to the entire Web; that's another way
to find the right category.

So, say, you're at Yahoo! You click on Recreation (just a hunch, because
pets, well, are), then on Animals, Insects, and Pets, which comes up on the
next screen. At that point, I'd put the word "pedigree" into the search
form, and restrict the search, using the pulldown menu, to just the category
level I'm currently at.

If you do that, you get something like 168 hits -- not an unmanageable
number to scan, especially compared to what you'd get if you just threw the
word "pedigree" into a regular ol' search engine -- including some specific
pedigree listings and some pointers to services that will research or verify
pedigrees for you.

O'course, no guarantee that you'll be able to find the pedigree of a
specific animal on the Web, anywhere. Real life research often means you
develop a lead as far as you can online, and then, guess what? You pick up
the phone and call a group or an individual expert or some other contact
that you've unearthed, that sounds promising.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #86 of 166: Reva Basch (reva) Thu 22 Oct 98 10:32
    
Jon slippage. Thank you, dear heart.


Okay, another couple of approaches:

One, use your intuition. All good researchers do. Who's in charge of dog
pedigrees in this country? Well, I don't know for sure (I've always lived
with mutts and, well, lately, CATS, heh heh), but I suspect the American
Kennel Club may be involved. So I guess (yes, guess!) at their domain name:
akc.org (the org because it's an organization; I could be wrong.

Just a sec while I check this out.... yeah, it's akc.org. Da DAH. It looks
like a decent starting point, at least (not that you, Plum, didn't know
this). According to the site, they maintain a purebred dog registry, and
there's a FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions list, and an email address for further info.

Yet another approach is to use your CONTACTs. What other dog people do you
know? Where do pedigreed dog owners hang out online? I haven't checked this
out, but I'd be willing to bet the rec.pets.dogs newsgroup hierarchy would
be helpful. Or the Pets forum or discussion area on whatever online
conferencing system you happen to belong to. The WELL's own Pets conference
would be a great place to start.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #87 of 166: Reva Basch (reva) Thu 22 Oct 98 10:41
    
Please close up that parentheses in the first graf up there. Thank you.
Sheesh.

The point of my begging the question w.r.t. search engine alternatives is
that search engines are by no means always the best or the most productive
way to do research online. Think in terms of subject catalogs, and drilling
down from a broad, general category to the specific concept you want.

And jeez, remember that research isn't purely  a left-brain function. It's
okay -- in fact it's mandatory -- to think creatively, to take intuitive and
even illogical-seeming leaps when you're so inclined. You don't have to go
through a fixed, step-by-step procedure. If you think you might be able to
shortcut the process by going directly to the site of an organization or
association or government agency or corporation involved with the subject
you're researching, by all means GO. Don't stand on ceremony.

And remember that email is your friend. Use those mail-to links if the info
you want doesn't seem to be posted on the site itself. Approach the experts
-- courteously and considerately, of course -- whose names have come up in
your research to date.

Plug time: Chapter 10 of Researching Online For Dummies goes into great
detail about the social engineering aspects of online research, including
rules of netiquette and all that.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #88 of 166: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Thu 22 Oct 98 10:50
    

Do you find that experts are good about responding to questions through 
email?
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #89 of 166: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 22 Oct 98 11:15
    
It's good that you get into that social engineering aspect, Reva; so many
books don't, and it really matters, imho.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #90 of 166: Gail Williams (gail) Thu 22 Oct 98 11:32
    

By the way, if you are starting an Internet venture and expect to have
people find your site in search engines, avoid company/organizational 
names consisting of words which the search engines will ignore (or hit so 
many times it's useless and silly.)    For an example, type:  the well
into a good search engine such as HotBot or Yahoo.  

It's not that the WELL hasn't been submitted: you may well find The WELL
by typing in www.well.com so it's not that we're not there... just a sort of
secret neighborhood. 
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #91 of 166: Reva Basch (reva) Thu 22 Oct 98 12:37
    
Jennifer, these days I get more mail from people asking me questions than
vice versa, and I can tell you what motivates me to help:

A subject header that's specific to the request (and not something generic
or hysterical or both, like "PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!")

A message that's brief, succinct, and to-the-point.

An indication that the requester has already done some homework ("I've
checked such and such, and contacted so and so, but I'm still hoping to
find...").

A request that's =reasonable= -- not "tell me everything you know about
online research," but "could you recommend a good starting point?"

Which gives me the perfect opening, of course, to tout Researching Online
For Dummies.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #92 of 166: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 22 Oct 98 13:11
    
Oh, yeah.  I've gotten a few dillies, like the guy on Bix who wanted to know
all about communications, but refused to read any books and wouldn't listen
to any referrals of any -- and who then had to have my Bix account cancelled
on the grounds that I had not been sufficiently helpful.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #93 of 166: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 22 Oct 98 13:12
    
Tried to have, I should say.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #94 of 166: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Thu 22 Oct 98 13:17
    

Researching Online for Dummies is a wonderful book.  I enjoyed reading from
it, learning from it, and also the jokes.

Reva, the way I post in here makes it seem like I am a moron and therefore
not a good advertisement for your book.  However, I am SO SELF-CONSCIOUS
about using any internet terminology, and so incredibly right-brained about
it that I am nearly incoherent.  But as host, I must try to assume some
kind of role here, so bear with my idiocy.

Here's a site I like for the outline version of searching:  looksmart.com.
It's altavista's version of yahoo.  I use it when I need recommendations --
they do your homework for you, so instead of searching on say, inference.com
for travel sites, I go there and have found better travel sites than I have
found on my own.

And speaking of pedigrees of dogs and searching, I did pretty much what you
said.  Went to the akc.org, which vaguely directed me to Hofflin's
publishing site, from which I somehow got to dogandcatbooks.com, from which
I then had to actually get an actual book from the actual world.

Okay, I now admit that I don't know how to search for newsgroups.  I'm not
even sure I know what newsgroups ARE.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #95 of 166: Reva Basch (reva) Thu 22 Oct 98 17:44
    
Cynthia, you're a gem. I know you're not a moron about this stuff because
you say YOURSELF that you did the same things I did. So. I rest my case. The
thing is, NOT everything is online yet, and even when it is, online isn't
always the best way to go about finding it. I mean, why go crazy trying to
find out the population of Italy if you have a World Almanac, or an atlas,
on your own bookshelf?

Looksmart is an example of that subject catalog approach I was talking about
earlier (remember, when you posted that oh-so-perceptive question about
alternatives to search engines?). Just about every search engine has
something similar. What I like about Looksmart is the way the display kind
of cascades, so you can always see the broader classification you came from,
and anticipate what narrower one you might be going to next.

And you bring up a very good point about subject catalogs that I think I
failed to mention -- they're juried, in the sense that some human being,
maybe even someone with expertise in a subject, has looked at and evaluated
a bunch of sites and chosen the best ones, or at least ones that clearly
seemed appropriate to the category.

In other words the information is filtered, in a way it isn't when you throw
yourself on the mercy of a Web-wide search engine.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #96 of 166: Reva Basch (reva) Thu 22 Oct 98 17:51
    
Okay, newsgroups. Maybe we should get someone like <slf> who really spends
time in them, or spent time, back in here. I've never gotten deeply into
them, because I discovered The WELL back 1988 and somehow that satisfies all
my intellectual and social needs.

Newsgroups were around since the dawn of the Net, just about. There are
several broad hierarchies, like rec for recreation and sci for science, and
then a bunch of sub-hierarchies, and even sub-sub-hierarchies, under each
one. It's like using a catalog like Looksmart and finding, instead of web
sites at every level you drill down to, collections of people talking to
each other, kinda like on the WELL.

You can go to www.dejanews.com, which is a search engine designed
specifically for newsgroups, and browse down through the rec hierarchy, say,
to rec.pets and then rec.dogs and then rec.dogs.breeds or what have you. And
you can read what people are saying, like on the WELL.

It's a different atmosphere out there than here on the WELL. Well, maybe not
that different; some newsgroups are highly civilized. Others, though, make
our Weird conference look like, I dunno... I better stop before I offend
somebody.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #97 of 166: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 22 Oct 98 20:49
    
I actually haven't used newsgroups for research for about a year.  The
technical ones, particularly the moderated ones, are ok, but the others are
loaded with spam, and who knows who somebody really is?

The best use I found for them was to go post, "Hey, I'm working on a story
about thus-and-so, and anybody who wants to talk to me about it, please
contact me."  I would never quote somebody from a newsgroup without
confirming that it was actually them.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #98 of 166: Cynthia Heimel (plum) Thu 22 Oct 98 21:13
    

I have just discovered mailing lists.  This seems to be a good alternative
than these newsgroups you describe.  They sound scary.
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #99 of 166: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Thu 22 Oct 98 22:55
    

I use dejanews for research now and then. It's a good (not great)
interface for finding specific things. 
  
inkwell.vue.4 : Reva Basch, Goddess of Cyberspace
permalink #100 of 166: Gary Gach (ggg) Thu 22 Oct 98 23:42
    
Reva, thanks for the concurrence about visual searching -- and altneratives
to search engines (for which I use a shorthand: search engines are narrow;
subject guides are broad).  And e-mail for asking; always.  Now:  how about
mailing lists?    (you're on SUCH a roll here, it's beyooodiful)

,
  

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