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                             FreePint
         "Helping 73,000 people use the Web for their work"
                     http://www.freepint.com/

ISSN 1460-7239                                  30th June 2005 No.185
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         Fully formatted full-colour edition available at:
            <http://www.freepint.com/issues/300605.htm>

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                           IN THIS ISSUE
                           -------------

                             EDITORIAL
                          By William Hann

                       MY FAVOURITE TIPPLES
                           By Carl Roach

                           FREEPINT BAR
                    In Association with Factiva
                   a Dow Jones & Reuters Company

                   JINFO :: JOBS IN INFORMATION
                        Research Associate
                        Librarian/Archivist
                         Knowledge Manager
                   Corporate Finance Researcher
        Records Management & Information Compliance Adviser

                           TIPS ARTICLE
               "An Insider's View of Google Answers"
                         By David Sarokin
                          
                             BOOKSHELF
                 "The Content Management Handbook"
                      Written by Martin White
                      Reviewed by Stephen Lee

                          FEATURE ARTICLE
             "Promoting Information and Search Skills"
                          By Jean Bedord

               EVENTS, GOLD AND FORTHCOMING ARTICLES

                        CONTACT INFORMATION

             ONLINE VERSION WITH ACTIVATED HYPERLINKS
            <http://www.freepint.com/issues/300605.htm>

                      FULLY FORMATTED VERSION
            <http://www.freepint.com/issues/300605.pdf>


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      ***  Reward good customer service :: Nominate today  ***

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      the online information vendor who, in your opinion, has
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       Cast your vote for this year's "Online Information /
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                     ***  ABOUT FREEPINT  ***

FreePint is an online network of information searchers. Members
receive this free newsletter twice a month: it is packed with tips
on finding quality and reliable business information on the Internet.

Joining is free at <http://www.freepint.com/> and provides access to


a substantial archive of articles, reviews, jobs and events, with
answers to research questions and networking at the FreePint Bar.

Please circulate this newsletter, which is best read when printed out.
To receive a fully formatted version as an attachment or a brief
notification when it's online, visit <http://www.freepint.com/subs/>.

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                             EDITORIAL
                          By William Hann

In recent FreePint Editorials I've talked about the importance of
networking. It's crucial to build up a network of contacts, whether
you work for yourself or not. Another invaluable way to promote
yourself and your organisation is to write articles, tips or reviews
for magazines and newsletters in your area.

We all like to talk about what we do and what we're interested in, and
we've found that the most popular articles in FreePint are those that
talk about the author's experiences. Articles written as stories are
always the easiest to read, and I bet they're the easiest to
write too.

For example, I met today's feature article author, Jean Bedord, at the
conference of the Association of Independent Information Professionals
in April <http://www.freepint.com/portal/events/>. I was very
interested in her distance-learning method for educating the next
generation of information professionals, and she tells us about it
today.

As well as case studies, our series of FreePint Reports are also very
popular <http://www.freepint.com/shop/report/>. They cover an author's
area of expertise in an accessible format -- more in-depth than
articles but not as daunting as a book.

We've just sent an invitation to members of FreePint to write articles
and reports for us. Check out the 'FreePint Author Update' as it has
some ideas for articles and gives information on earning commission as
a FreePint report author <http://www.freepint.com/author.htm>.

We're experiencing a lot of upheaval here at the FreePint offices at
the moment, as work starts on the refurbishment and extension to our
office building. If you're interested in finding out what we're going
through, then check out the dedicated Web site which has a diary and
photos of the works as they progress
<http://www.stationapproach.com/>.

Please do consider writing for FreePint and sharing your experiences
with others in the community. At the very least, forward this issue
of FreePint to any colleagues and friends who might find it useful.

William Hann
Managing Editor and Founder, FreePint

e: william.hann@freepint.com
t: 0870 141 7474
i: +44 870 141 7474

FreePint is a Registered Trademark of Free Pint Limited (R) 1997-2005

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                       MY FAVOURITE TIPPLES
                           By Carl Roach

* I store bookmarks at del.icio.us <http://del.icio.us> for access
  from any computer. Metadata links my bookmarks to related sites.

* Flickr <http://flickr.com>, a photo web service, is becoming very
  popular among web developers as one can build it into blogs and
  other websites.

* Answers.com <http://answers.com> - no-fuss fact-checker recently
  chosen by Google as their dictionary service.

* I keep a regular eye on OSNews <http://www.osnews.com> for recent
  and future plans for operating systems.

* I dip into soothsayer Bob Cringely’s site 'I, Cringley'
  <http://www.pbs.org/cringely/> for his analysis of the tech industry.
  He's not always right but is a guaranteed thought provoker.

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Carl Roach is working behind the scenes to launch a free web service
to let users combine calendars of public events with their personal
diaries.

Submit your top five favourite Web sites. See the guidelines at
<http://www.freepint.com/author.htm>.

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           *** Register for Search Tips from Factiva ***

Factiva's monthly newsletter, "InfoPro Alliance" gives you the inside
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    Register today and you'll find credible information faster.

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                            FREEPINT BAR
                   <http://www.freepint.com/bar>

                    In Association with Factiva
                   a Dow Jones & Reuters Company

It has been another lively two weeks at the FreePint Bar with all
sorts of tricky research questions and discussions.

On the topic of publishing, do you have any suggestions on how to
get the word out about a new magazine for librarians
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32436> or where you can download music
from the Internet legally, for free?
http://www.freepint.com/go/b32401>. What about an online index for
Peanuts cartoons? <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32460>
 
How about something technical: one FreePinter is having problems
printing with Adobe <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32471> and
another with transferring footage from a cassette tape to a CD
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32410>.

Want something to do in your lunch hour? How about taking part in a
survey on the European Library portal - (you also get to donate to
charity for free at the same time)
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32437>. Do you have any stories of
good and bad bosses <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32422> -- a
free white paper is up for grabs if you do.
 
There have been a few posters wanting company information:
one is trying to find management consultancies in Poland
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32442> and another wants to
analyse the sectors and investment plans in UAE
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32453>, can you help?

What about Italian financial information?
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32428> or where to access free
Mintel (or other) reports on opening a health club?
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32423>

Do you know where to find information on the UK vehicle salvage
industry <http://www.freepint.com/go/b32405> or where to
research the market for alcohol awareness training?
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32469>

And finally, we get all sorts of unusual topics at the FreePint
Bar, this being one of them:

Is cat declawing illegal in the UK and Europe? Apparently not!
<http://www.freepint.com/go/b32430>

See you next time.

Penny Hann <penny.hann@freepint.com>
FreePint

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The FreePint Bar is where you can get free help with your tricky
research questions <http://www.freepint.com/bar>

Help with study for information-related courses is available at the
FreePint Student Bar <http://www.freepint.com/student>.

Twice-weekly email digests of the latest postings can be requested
at <http://www.freepint.com/subs/>.

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                   JINFO :: JOBS IN INFORMATION
                      <http://www.jinfo.com/>

The Jinfo service enables you to search for and advertise
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The Jinfo Newsletter is published free every two weeks, and contains
a list of the latest vacancies along with job seeking advice. The
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To read the latest Jinfo Newsletter and to subscribe to receive it
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Here are some of the latest featured jobs:

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  Could you help us archive our collection of books and documents so
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  Recruiter: Sue Hill Recruitment
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Records Management & Information Compliance Adviser
  Manage the records management programme & systems, handle FoI &
  Data Protection requests & provide specialist advice.
  Recruiter: South West Regional Development Agency
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NB: There are 36 other jobs in the current edition of the Jinfo
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                            TIPS ARTICLE
         <http://www.freepint.com/issues/300605.htm#tips>
               "An Insider's View of Google Answers"
                         By David Sarokin

Somewhere in the world is a person who wants ... no, needs! ... some
obscure piece of information.

Perhaps it's the number of Cessna 152s registered in the US; a
transcript from a WWII war crimes trial; or details about the annual
wheat harvest in Iran. Information that they cannot find, but that I
can. The challenge is, how can we find one another? Amazingly, it's
not that hard. The questioner simply states the question, offers a
fee for an answer, and -- if the fee is reasonable -- the deal is
done.

The scene of our little cyber-tete-a-tete is a wonderful web service
known as Google Answers.


Mentioning Google Answers to folks often gets me a quizzical stare.
The 'Google' part is clear enough, but what's this about Google
answering questions? Is that any different than a plain old Google
search?

In truth, Google Answers (GA) is one of Google's lesser-known, and
lesser-used services. And that's a shame really, because it's one
of the great tools available on the internet. GA picks up where
routine internet searching leaves off:
 
* It's not automated -- there are human beings back there answering
  your questions.
 
* It's not instantaneous -- an answer may come in minutes, hours, or
  days.
 
* It's not a massive, loosely formatted data dump with a thousand
  results (most of which aren't relevant to what you want). Instead,
  GA provides highly professional, highly targeted, well-written
  answers that provide just the information needed, and a touch of
  humanity to boot.
 
* Information isn't limited to a Google search, but can come from a
  great many resources.
 
* And unlike conventional searching, GA isn't (gasp!) free. Putting
  all those humans to work will cost you ... but not very much.

Google Answers is more than a Q&A service, however. It's quite an
intriguing web community in its own right. But more of that later on.


How Google Answers Works
========================
 
The fastest way to get an overview of Google Answers is to have a
look:

<http://answers.google.com/answers/>

Like the site says: Ask a question. Set your price. Get your answer.

Ask a question: Pretty much anything is fair game, from business
queries, computer programming help, website design, medical
information ... to advice for the lovelorn. Only a few things are off
limits, like tracking down old boy/girlfriends, the inner workings of
Google, doing your homework for you, or assisting in something
patently illegal.
 
Set your price: offer whatever you think your question is worth,
anywhere from $2 to $200. Researchers prefer the higher-priced
questions, for obvious reasons, but it's actually quite amazing what
some folks receive for their two bucks.

Get your answer: Ask, and ye shall receive ... usually! Not every
question gets answered. Some are simply impossible, and a few, I'm
sorry to say, are incomprehensible. But a well-focused, properly
priced question almost always receives a top-notch answer.
 
 
Quality Control
===============
 
The GA researchers
------------------

There are several hundred of us on contract with Google -- all
carefully screened by the powers-that-Goog to ensure that only
those with the requisite skills in research, writing and customer
service are on the team.

Good research skills are essential. GA isn't simply a matter of
conducting a Google search for customers too lazy to do it on their
own. Sometimes a search takes a sophisticated understanding of how
best to target results. Here's a recent Google search of mine that was
elaborately constructed, using the "OR" feature and the number range
feature and the wildcard asterisk, all inside the exact phrase (quote
marks) feature: [ "10..1000 most * companies OR corporations OR
brands" ] -- plug it into a Google search to see the sort of nicely-
targeted results it produces.

Many questions are answered without using Google at all. Researchers
may rely on their own expertise -- I'm a microbiologist, for instance
-- and on a wealth of resources, both online and offline. I'm
fortunate to have access to Lexis-Nexis, Proquest, Factiva, EBSCO,
JSTOR, and a host of other databases that can be brought to bear in
researching a question.

And all the cyber-poking around we do leads us to discover a lot of
amazing resources available to everyone, but tucked away in odd
corners of the web, like the EU patent database that also includes
patents from the US and Japan (how cool is that?), and goes back to
the 1800's <http://digbig.com/4dpge>.

Still, what assurance does a customer have that they will get a
satisfactory answer? Easy. If you don't like your answer, you don't
pay for it (other than a fifty cents listing fee). That simple rule
keeps the researchers very focused on providing quality answers.
Customers can also rate an answer from one to five stars, and, trust
me, no one enjoys getting anything less than a five star rating.
Still, you can't please everyone, all the time, as you can see by one
of the rare answers of mine (on clinical trials) that did get
rejected <http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=346564>.

For the most part, though, ratings are high, rejections are rare, and
our clients seem quite satisfied. Well they should be. Some of the
work provided at Google Answers would easily cost thousands of dollars
if it came from a professional marketing research firm, web site
customization service, computer programmer or private investigator.
Take a look, for instance, at this customized research on the
thermoplastics market done under a tight deadline at a
bargain-basement price
<http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=519557>.
 
In a sense, this is GA at its most powerful, and most valuable -- as a
professional quality research tool for augmenting in-house research
staff. I don't think there is currently any service other than GA that
could have provided such excellent work at such a minimal price.

 
Questions, Questions, Questions
===============================
 
It's almost impossible to characterize just what gets asked at GA; the
questions are all over the map, both literally (Nigerian towns in the
1700s), cybernetically (visualizing a map of the internet) and
metaphorically (find me a map to salvation). But there are certain
themes that do tend to repeat over and over, such as:
 
* Help me come up with a great name for my company
 
* How do I get rid of my search history (I don't want my mom seeing
  where I've been)
 
* I have a great idea for a toy/movie/TV show/website/invention ...
  how can I get somebody to pay me for it?
 
* I want the private cell phone number of Bill Gates, George Bush,
  Britney Spears ...
 
* How can I get my website to show up as #1 on a Google search
  (sorry...this one's off limits)
 
* What is my domain name/grandma's tea set/painting-in-the-attic worth
  (general answer: probably not as much as you think)
 
* Please give me amazingly clever ideas for -- or completely plan --
  my vacation/business trip/wedding/birthday party/honeymoon
 
* Give me the name and contact for every company in China/the
  US/Europe/the world that makes toys/handbags/chemicals/cement, etc.

Not all the questions get answered, of course. The last one, in
particular, belongs to the category of "every" questions, where a
customer wants every single one of a particular thing. Once we explain
that there may be a million such things, and can't assure that every
single one is listed, we can usually come to some reasonable
alternative for the client.

Then there are the questions that just make you sit back and wonder,
where the heck did **that** come from:
 
<http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=520528>
Subject: Hunter Gatherer Diet

Did hunter-gatherer humans (those eating diets that are pre
cultivation/domestication) eat the intestines and/or the intestinal
contents of their animal prey, and if so, what parts did they eat
(e.g. rumen, caecum, colon).
 
At last check, the question hadn't yet been answered.

 
A few questions that I know in my heart should be answerable have thus
far eluded the research team. Have a look, and if you have any leads
for getting these answered, drop me a line (or go public, and post a
comment at GA):

<http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=516261>
Poor guy is looking for a very particular stuffed bunny.
 
<http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=518577>
Patient looking for a source of a perfectly legal but hard to find
medication.

<http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=523867>
Spreadsheet of Members of the S&P 500 1950-1975

(These questions may be expired by the time this article is in print,
but don't let that stop you).

And most researchers seem to have a personal favorite question, but I
actually had a hard time coming up with mine. This one about an
(apparently) bogus ambassador comes close, though:

<http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=136802>
US Ambassador-at-Large Elena Lilly 
 
  
The Google Answers Community
============================
 
Considering that I've never met any of my employers or customers face-
to-face -- and have only had that pleasure with three of my fellow
researchers -- there's quite a weird, wonderful, close-knit,
cantankerous community of GA aficionados. It's not only the
researchers and customers who make it so. There is also the 'peanut
gallery' of about a score of regular commenters (did I mention GA has
a comments section where anyone can post), who offer their wisdom,
information, wisecracks, insults and occasional idiocy. The all-time
GA record for the question with the most comments was posted by a
favorite peanut gallery regular, and can be seen at:
<http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=161982>
 
The researchers themselves have a number of cyberforums where we get
together and trade professional resources, commiserate, share some
news, or whine (Wah! You stole my question!). The overall feel is one
of enormous camaraderie and pride. We all love being GA researchers,
and part of the amazing Google phenomenon. It's a mixed group of folk
from all over the world: scientists, mathematicians, programmers, web-
designers and SEO specialists, playwrights, private investigators, law
enforcement types, pilots, and an assortment of Renaissance
researchers who are good at, and knowledgeable about, almost
everything. The diversity is an important attribute, as some questions
that have me absolutely stumped, can be answered by someone else with
the just the right set of skills.
 
As a researcher for Google Answers, I feel I have the best job in the
world. It's interesting, rewarding, infinitely varied, perfectly
flexible. I work when, where, and as often as I want to, the people I
work with are uniformly wonderful, and my clients are a diverse and
fascinating group.
 
Now ... if only I could make a living!

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David Sarokin lives in Washington DC with his wife and two
rambunctious kids, and spends far too much time on the internet. He
is an environmentalist, a lapsed microbiologist, and has a day job
with the federal government. In addition to his work with Google
Answers, he is also President and Chief Executive Janitor of Sarokin
Consulting, doing freelance research and consulting on due diligence,
company background studies, family histories, legal and regulatory
matters, data gathering, prior art, web-based information extraction,
and a host of other topics. He's always happy to discuss potential
projects, and would love the opportunity to write more about GA. You
can reach him at .

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Related FreePint links:

* 'Internet Searching' articles in the FreePint Portal
  <http://www.freepint.com/go/p185>
* Post a message to the authors, David Sarokin, or suggest further
  resources at the FreePint Bar <http://www.freepint.com/bar>
* Read this article online, with activated hyperlinks
  <http://www.freepint.com/issues/300605.htm#tips>
* Access the entire archive of FreePint content
  <http://www.freepint.com/portal/content/>

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       Read testimonials and find out about the benefits at:
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                         FREEPINT BOOKSHELF
                <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf>
                 "The Content Management Handbook"
                      Written by Martin White
                      Reviewed by Stephen Lee

Martin White is the Managing Director of Intranet Focus Ltd
<http://www.intranetfocus.com>. He has long experience of the
introduction of content management technology in different sectors,
experience that he shares in the Content Management Handbook.

For White, content is 'the building block of information, and so at
least [of] explicit knowledge'. As he records, in today's competitive
world, the effective use of information can make the difference
between the success or failure of an organisation. In practice,
however, 'granular information' (content) is all too often held in a
range of formats, applications and systems, and managed in discrete
areas.

To obtain maximum benefit from its content, an organisation needs the
capability to manage it coherently and effectively. This capability,
White argues, should be expressed in a corporate Content Management
Strategy, and delivered via a Content Management System (the reader
will be relieved to know that the range of possible definitions of the
acronym CMS is addressed early on!). In the Handbook, White takes the
reader through the development of a corporate strategy, considers the
options for the system or systems that will realise it, and finally
looks at the practicalities involved in implementing those systems to
achieve strategic goals.

White argues that the implementation of content management technology
must be approached systematically, as a project in its own right,
rather than as an 'add on' for staff, and his experience shows as he
clearly and logically sets out the steps involved to the delivery of
the system(s) concerned. He places less emphasis on the softer aspects
of implementation such as change management, and on post
implementation evaluation and review. Throughout, however, he
successfully balances the practical (the nuts and bolts of
implementing the technology) with a watchful focus on strategic
objectives (the desired business benefits).

This is a practical guide, rather than a doorstep-sized volume seeking
to address every aspect of its subject in exhaustive detail. To this
end, every chapter includes a summary and list of further references,
and the final chapter offers a selection of books and websites for
those seeking further information. The Handbook is also liberally
provided with useful checklists and guides - everything from sample
questions for an audit of information use, and outline plans for
vendor presentations, to advice on preparing a business case and
developing a statement of requirements.

The Content Management Handbook covers a lot of ground in less than
150 (sometimes rather densely packed) pages. It pulls no punches in
making it clear that the effective implementation of content
management technology across an organisation is a lengthy and involved
process. This said, following the practical advice it provides will
undoubtedly help ensure that key concerns are addressed, and
unpleasant or unexpected surprises minimised, along the way.

> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Steve Lee is Web Content Manager for Consumer Direct. Consumer Direct
is a telephone and online consumer advice service supported by the
Department of Trade and Industry. It was launched in mid-2004 and will
ultimately be rolled out across England, Scotland and Wales.

Before taking up his present post, he held a range of information
management posts in British Trade International (now UK Trade &
Investment), including information researcher, database and website
manager, and Information Manager for the organisation's Freedom of
Information Act Publication Scheme.

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Related FreePint links:

* Find out more about this book online at the FreePint Bookshelf
  <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf/conmanhan.htm>
* Read customer comments and buy this book at Amazon.co.uk
  <http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1856045331/freepint0c>
  or Amazon.com
  <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1856045331/freepint00>
* "The Content Management Handbook" ISBN 1856045331, published
  by Facet Publishing.
* Search for and purchase any book from Amazon via the FreePint
  Bookshelf at <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf>
* Read about other Internet Strategy books on the FreePint Bookshelf
  <http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf/strategy.htm>

To propose an information-related book for review, send details
to <support@freepint.com>.

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    ***  FreePint Newsletter Archive and Formatted Editions  ***

  A full archive of FreePint Newsletters is freely available online,
   alongside fully formatted editions of the newsletter. These are
printable, and include photos of the authors and colour advertising.

   Check out the archive and have selected issues emailed to you:
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                           FEATURE ARTICLE
         <http://www.freepint.com/issues/300605.htm#feature>
             "Promoting Information and Search Skills"
                          By Jean Bedord

Search has assumed new dimensions from the days when I was licensing
publisher content and designing databases for Dialog. Technology has
changed drastically, and the range of content has exploded, yet the
basics of search skills remain the same. I teach a class in Online
Searching as adjunct faculty at the graduate school of Library and
Information Science at San Jose State University, and my students
remind me of the evolution. They enter the class assuming they are
proficient searchers, using popular search engines, and complete the
class with a high appreciation of the commercial search services, both
for sources and capabilities.


Today's teaching environment
----------------------------

My teaching situation is typical of information professionals' future.
As starters, the class is taught virtually, meaning that I never
actually meet my 25 to 30 students each semester face-to-face. This
semester, one of them lived in Hong Kong, which created timing
challenges for scheduling online vendor presentations using Webex
<http://www.webex.com>. Most students are working, so they enrol part
time in the program, and do their class work on weekends and evenings,
to their own individual schedules. Fortunately, most have broadband
connections, which is a better environment for the virtual classroom.

The class is administered using Blackboard <http://www.blackboard.com>
which quite nicely integrates the backend functionality to track
enrolled students, assignments, grades, and class announcements. As an
instructor, I post my 'lectures' plus reading and searching
assignments as Word documents for them to view and print out. The
equivalent of class-room discussions are the Discussion Boards,
divided into different topics, week by week. This participation is
twenty percent of their grade, and my major gauge on class progress.
This type of environment places a premium on writing and visual
skills, particularly in communicating ideas and tone. As the semester
progresses, fluency in this medium increases remarkably, as the
personalities emerge. I don't use online chat, since it's difficult
for my students to all be online at once, plus I prefer the more
thoughtful style of posting complete thoughts.

Accommodating differences in learning styles is a challenge. Dialog,
Factiva and Lexis-Nexis include extensive materials in their generous
library school programs. I use a number of these, though had to sift
to find the right materials for an introductory class. Workbooks with
answers at the back are particularly useful since my students can
practice the problems and immediately check their strategy. This also
reduced the number of graded individual assignments, a definite
workload consideration.

Both Dialog and Factiva have videos on their websites, which were
quite useful, since my students could listen at their own convenience.
Some students simply learn better with the combination of voice and
visual, and I would like to have more of this media. Interestingly,
Lexis-Nexis does not have any videos. All three services provide live
conference training, which students greatly appreciate, though
students couldn't always work the times into their schedules. The
vendor materials and training also serve to reinforce to students the
value of commercial services.


Students reflect the services they know
---------------------------------------

Several students enrolled assuming they would be learning advanced
techniques for searching the Web, not realizing there was a world of
commercial search services. With the exception of a few who already
have access to one of the 'big 3' at work, the rest are overwhelmed
when I immerse them in Dialog Classic. This requires reading
documentation, aka BlueSheets, to learn about fields and indexing,
concepts blithely ignored in the web search engine environment, but
invaluable for the information professional. I position command level
searching as a programming language, requiring precise statements to
obtain relevant results. It takes a while, but then students discover
the flexibility of the command-level structure and the precision of
their results, particularly with a known-item search.

Learning to differentiate between syntax errors and logical errors is
more challenging. My students are somewhat familiar with Proquest and
Gale indexed and abstracted databases, and learn the usefulness of the
descriptors. Then they have to switch searching styles when dealing
with full-text databases, particularly newspapers. I found students
doing subject searches limiting their search terms to the title field,
not realizing that titles are notoriously poor indicators of the
actual subject!


The synonym problem
-------------------

Experienced searchers automatically think about alternative search
terms, regardless of whether they are in the Web search environment
(keywords) or commercial services (search terms). But many of my
students use the exact words in the search problem, not looking at
additional terminology that would be more comprehensive or considering
alternative spellings. They have to learn to search on "women",
"woman" and "female", not just one term. Indexing using controlled
vocabularies and thesauri are new territory, but appreciated after
they understand the concept. Then they start complaining when
inconsistencies due to human indexing are uncovered!

Interestingly, by the end of class, some of the students began using
Google to discover and refine search terms before going to the
commercial search services. It's instructive that the web search
engines are useful to discover different contexts in a more intuitive
way than the structured environment developed for the commercial
services. Students develop a healthy skepticism of the open web
resources, as well as an appreciation of the precision of the
commercial services, but find the open web useful as a linguistic
tool.


So many sources!!!
------------------

Most of my students have no idea of the range of sources available,
either in commercial services or on the Web itself. For the public
Web, I find that the Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook by Ran Hock
<http://www.freepint.com/bookshelf/extreme3.htm> is well liked,
especially by the public librarians and school media specialists with
minimal budgets. I particularly like having a companion site,
<http://www.extremesearcher.com> to keep references in the book up to
date, a good way to blend traditional and online media.

For the commercial services, one exercise is to explore the Dialog
Database Catalog and OneSearch categories
<http://support.dialog.com/searchaids/essentials.shtml>. Students
delight in finding such sources as their local newspaper, Consumers
Report or Standard & Poor's. They quickly grasp that determining the
right source is part of the art of searching. Most are somewhat
familiar with bibliographic databases since they have access to an
extensive collection at San Jose Library, a combination of public
library and academic library. However, finding company profiles,
product information, chemical structures and patent records is new
territory, as is the ISI citation databases. They learn about a wide
variety of business sources on Factiva, and public records on Lexis-
Nexis.

To introduce them to the concept that the same information can be
found on multiple services, one required exercise is to do the same
MEDLINE search on both Dialog and PUBMED. This allows them to see the
difference in information retrieval with different interfaces. In
addition, it introduces them to an authoritative source of health
information, an increasingly important area of searching. The general
reaction by the end of class is that they would never think of
searching in the same simplistic terms, and were learning to use
advanced searching features, even in their web searches.

One of the challenges with teaching students about different sources
is that the library websites available to them typically blend both
authoritative free websites with licensed databases, as you can see at
the San Jose Library website
<http://www.sjlibrary.org/research/databases/index.htm>.
Differentiating between the business models which support these
databases is not always obvious. I can only provide guidelines and a
framework for determining when commercial services are the best choice
for an information query.


Search skills are marketable!
-----------------------------

At the end of the semester, I explore where online searching fits into
the job market, pointing out that the 'librarian' title is limited to
traditional institutions. But searching and organizational skills are
widely applicable in a variety of areas, such as researcher, analyst,
knowledge management, records management, information architecture and
competitive intelligence. And there are additional opportunities
working for publishers and vendors to the information market.

Then I explore job opportunities in the web world, and it is a
different dialect. Taxonomies and classification have become hot--but
aren't these just different terms for thesauri and indexing? Isn't
metadata just abstracting? Isn't content management basically managing
a collection, even if the information is not in physical format? And
isn't customer support in the information industry basically
reference? And isn't database management the same as managing a
library catalog?

It's all in the terminology! And as information professionals, or
information scientists, or researchers or analysts, this is a lesson
we know well.

> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Jean Bedord is a consultant who specializes in business analysis,
electronic product strategies and marketing for publishers and content
technology companies. She is currently a Senior Analyst with Shore
Communications, <http://www.shore.com> and a frequent contributor to
the Shorelines blog, commenting on emerging trends in the content
business, as well as a contributor to industry publications. She has
been a speaker on eBook strategies and widely quoted in this emerging
market. Jean's introduction to online information began as a product
manager for Dialog business and pharmaceutical databases. She
established her own consultancy, eContent Strategies
<http://www.econtentstrategies.com>, after leaving Dialog, then joined
Shore.

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Related FreePint links:

* 'Information and Libraries' articles in the FreePint Portal
  <http://www.freepint.com/go/p69>
* Post a message to the author, Jean Bedord, or suggest further
  resources at the FreePint Bar <http://www.freepint.com/bar>
* Read this article online, with activated hyperlinks
  <http://www.freepint.com/issues/300605.htm#feature>
* Access the entire archive of FreePint content
  <http://www.freepint.com/portal/content/>

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                          FREEPINT GOLD

A look back at what FreePint covered at this time in previous years:

* FreePint No.162 1st July 2004. "Trends in Business Information
  Provision and Use" and "GIS Enabling the Internet"
  <http://www.freepint.com/issues/010704.htm>

* FreePint No.140 10th July 2003. "Copyright and the Internet: Myth
  and Reality" and "The Product Development Cycle"
  <http://www.freepint.com/issues/100703.htm>

* Free Pint No.115 27th June 2002. "RSI and the Library and
  Information Science Professional"
  <http://www.freepint.com/issues/270602.htm>

* Free Pint No.91, 5th July 2001. "D.I.Y. Site Design" and "Obtaining
  Grants" <http://www.freepint.com/issues/050701.htm>

* Free Pint No.66, 6th July 2000. "Panorama of Engineering Portals"
  and "Surfing the Sludge - Tips on Good Web Page Design"
  <http://www.freepint.com/issues/060700.htm>

* Free Pint No.42, 8th July 1999. "Electronic commerce" and "Plastics
  and Rubber Information on the Internet"
  <http://www.freepint.com/issues/080799.htm>

* Free Pint No.17, 25th June 1998. "Finding information products and
  services via the Net" and "Bioscience Information on the Internet" <
  http://www.freepint.com/issues/250698.htm>

                    Penny <penny@freepint.com>

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                   FREEPINT FORTHCOMING ARTICLES
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