Internet Librarian 2002
Search Strategies and Information
by Marydee Ojala
Interestingly, Internet Librarian's
track on search strategies didn't
have a whole lot of information
how to construct a Boolean strategy. Perhaps we've
moved to a post-Booleanera. Perhaps it's just that
speakers who've been doing Boolean searches for years
think it's so obvious that it's not worth mentioning.
InsteadChris Sherman explained the nuances of Google,
including various field-searching syntaxes and special
features. Gary Price and Blake Carver compared their
blogs, ResourceShelf (http://resourceshelf.freepint.com) and
As they demonstrated the mechanics of uploading new
material to their blogs, I wondered what those outside
the room must have thought when these very strange
messages appeared online. Content is definitely going
to the blogs.
Mary Ellen Bates' talk on difficult reference questions
could have been titled (with apologies to Man of
La Mancha) "To Answer the Unanswerable Question." She
categorized these queries as ones in which no one knows
the answer, analysis is needed, the answer is subjective,
very few people care, there's no chance of an answer,
the question is unclear, or it's an incorrect citation.
Having said that they were unanswerable, the inimitable
Bates then proceeded to show how to answer them. Impossible
dreams? Not to a super searcher. My favorite tip from
the presentation was her suggestion to ask clients, "If
I can't find exactly that, what would be second best?"
Anne Mintz's rather sobering presentation concentrated
on Web sites that are intended to mislead unwary searchers.
She began with a Martin Luther King site that is highly,
but subtly, biased against Dr. King. She then moved
on to the McWhortle site (http://www.mcwhortle.com),
the "home page" of a fictitious company that was created
by the SEC to warn folks against investing without
complete information. Mintz pointed out that just because
a site sports a dot-org URL doesn't mean the information
found there is unbiased. As checkpoints, she suggested
determining a URL's ownership by using something like
Register.com or Netsol.com, examining which sites link
to the site in question, and looking at a site's content
for lack of balance.
Marydee Ojala is the editor of ONLINE. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.