Research: Delving the Deep Web

How much serious research can you accomplish on the Web? probably much more than results from major search engines like Google and Yahoo might lead you to expect. Net savvy librarians are working hard to make more “deep” information resources available through common Web searches.

Check out today’s New York Times: Old Search Engine, the Library, Tries to Fit Into a Google World, by Katie Hafner.

Excerpt: “For the last few years, librarians have increasingly seen people use online search sites not to supplement research libraries but to replace them. Yet only recently have librarians stopped lamenting the trend and started working to close the gap between traditional scholarly research and the incomplete, often random results of a Google search.”

I bump up against this issue quite often in my work as a journalist and all-around information and communication junkie. I used to haunt libraries, but now I usually only go to a library to consult or borrow a particular resource which I have already confirmed online or by phone exists at that library. I really hadn’t thought about that shift in my habits much until I read that article, but I can see the implications. Here are a few observations…
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Web Credibility: Speak for Yourself BEFORE the Media Speak for You

Here’s one interesting way the Internet has altered my perception of legitimacy: As far as I’m concerned, credible, serious organizations have Web sites that explain who they are and offer all of their current information and news, and that provide a means of direct contact. I expect any organization which is serious about communicating on any issue to IMMEDIATELY publish a Web site in order to communicate directly with the public – before they start calling reporters.

If a group doesn’t publish a Web site right from day one, if they attempt to speak solely through the media or other intermediaries even for a day, my radar goes up. Something clearly seems amiss. I automatically become more wary and skeptical.

This applies even when a group includes famous or influential people, like the newly announced group Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change – a coalition of 26 retired U.S. diplomats and military officers who claim that the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq and elsewhere have signifcantly undermined national security.

DMCC doesn’t have a Web site – not just yet, anyway. I just spoke to their press officer Connie Coopersmith, who told me that the DMCC’s site,, is expected to hit the Web tonight.

I’m glad DMCC is getting their online act together. However – and I realize this sounds picky – the timing of their Web debut irks me…
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The Social Software Learning Experience

I’ve been writing more lately about wikis, which are one kind of social software &#150 which is basically any software that supports group interaction.

Group interaction obviously can be a key part of any formal or informal learning experience. Consequently, many educators and e-learning professionals are trying to figure out best ways to leverage social software for learning.

On June 17, 4:15-5:30 PM PDT, there will be an intriguing presentation exploring the synergy of social software and learning: Small Pieces Loosely Joined.

More about this…
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Update: My Reading List

I’ve just updated my list of what I’m currently reading. Surprise, surprise, it’s a lot of stuff, quite a mix.

Check out my Bloglines list of Feeds Amy Reads for my current webfeed selection. It includes some new categories, such as “content management, metadata, & info. architecture,” and several cool new additions to “writing, editing, & communication.”

Also, near the bottom of the right column on this blog’s home page is the current list of books I’m reading.


The Accidental Communicator

“Rule 1: Communication usually fails, except by accident.”
– Professor Osmo A. Wiio, famed Finnish researcher of human communication.

…If you’re interested in communication theory, that quote is probably old hat. However, for those of you who haven’t heard of Wiio’s laws, check out this excellent commentary on them by Jukka “Yucca” Korpela. In my opinion, this is absolutely essential reading for anyone who has to do a lot of communication – on the job, online, or in real life. It’s immensely practical and highly entertaining.

Here’s a brief summary of the rules…
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Info Environmentalism: Cleaning Up the Mindscape

Does your brain sometimes feel like a landfill, crammed with a meaningless and useless jumble of information? If so, then you might want to join the emerging information environmentalism movement.

Info enviros seek to reduce information overload and its effects on people’s lives. Read all about it in this May 10, 2004 Christian Science Monitor article, E-serenity, now! by Dean Patton

(Thanks to Ben Hammersley for the WordSpy link.)

Starter Kit for the Next Editorial Frontier

It seems to me that the field of structured content (metadata, content management, and information architecture) is probably the next major frontier for the editorially inclined. After all, writers and editors do what we do because we have an innate grasp for identifying, juxtaposing, organizing, presenting, and reusing information to maximum effect. “Content intuition” is our core talent.

Also, moving in this direction may be a matter of long-term survival. Let’s face it – traditional writing and editing skills, while crucial, will probably never be valued in the professional world as much as they deserve….
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