Online reference tools

Anyone doing intensive research online can be more productive with these tools for managing references.

Make Research Easier With These Five Tools by Brandi Scardilli, Information Today (Oct 7)

Several popular tools provide platforms that store articles, features that generate bibliographies, and functionality that encourages collaboration on projects.

Review the features and functionality of Endnote, ProQuest Flow, and Mendeley.

Primer on search

This article provides a good overview with illustrations of how search works. The classic types of search – navigational, informational, and transactional are noted, and also that Google addresses all of these in “using semantic and exploratory techniques to information retrieval”. Search has changed greatly over the past 5 to 10 years to become much more personalized, more monitored, and more commercialized – all concerns that are explored here.

There is more to search than Google by Royan Ayyar, Semrush (Oct 24)

Entitities at work

Entities is the key to search-engine placement – not keyword trigger words – but content that names people, places, events, and provides other important information. Bill Slawski gives the example of building a page on Black History that will rank well based entirely on meaningful content.

How I Came To Love Entities by Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea (Oct 24)

Pocket for reader gatherers

If you are a gatherer of pieces on the Web to read later, Pocket may be the tool for you – desktop and mobile.  And, you can gather even more by connecting it to  IFTTT (If This, Then That)

The service lets you bookmark anything on the Web; articles are stored in your personal library, where they can be easily located and read when it’s most convenient. It doesn’t matter if you have a connection either, as Pocket can download (almost) everything to your device automatically.

The in-depth guide to using Pocket by Nick Summers, The Next Web (Oct 20)

Paid ads vs organic results

If you think it’s getting harder to distinguish between paid ads in search results and organic results, you’re not alone. Wall Street Journal has said that search engines are ignoring the FTC 2013 directive. I agree. My practice today is to immediately skip over the first 3 to 5 results because they are usually somewhat disguised paid ads.

WSJ: Search Engines Ignoring FTC Rules About Labeling Search Ads, Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land (Oct 13)

Conversational search when travelling

Use Google app on your smart phone or tablet to find restaurants and bars nearby. Great for dinner reservations.  Works in Toronto. Just say – show restaurants near my home – and presto, Google gives map, names, and addresses.

Google Upgrades Conversational Search On Its Mobile Apps, Matt McGee, Search Engine Land (Oct 9)

Basically, the app is smarter about knowing where you are (at a hotel, for example), letting you complete actions by voice (i.e., making reservations via OpenTable), getting directions as part of the ongoing conversation you’re having with the app and getting reminders.

ZEEF for topic curation

People do love to collect. Maybe most of us are  “curators” at heart. ZEEF is a new service, based in Amsterdam, where volunteers set up stake to manage a topic area. This isn’t the first time. We’ve had the Open Directory as the longest lasting; also Mahalo, which became noted for spam; Blekko, human curated search engine; Scoop.It with a blog style approach; and even Pinterest. Now, here’s a new one. Eric Ward interviewed Rick Boerebach of ZEEF.

Yahoo Says Goodbye, ZEEF Says Hello Eric Ward, Search Engine Land (Oct 7)

Boerebach explained: ” “We believe human knowledge is the most effective tool to surface the gems hidden in this massive pile of content and give a feeling of trust. We want to incorporate the social graph into our model to give results of curators closest to you.” In the interview he notes problems other directories and outlined ZEEF’s intention to overcome them all.

We thought it was the perfect time for a real human-curated directory, keeping the flaws of existing directories in mind and adding the social elements of platforms like Pinterest and Twitter. You can position ZEEF in between Twitter and blogging, which both aim at increasing authority and awareness of your knowledge.

ZEEF -  Filtering the World's Information

ZEEF – Filtering the World’s Information

Good luck – but the good directories have a well developed subject tree (or taxonomy). ZEEF doesn’t appear to have this. There should be well defined criteria for selection and assurances of quality, but at ZEEF this depends entirely on the people volunteering and the “voting” users do. This model has been tried before, and, for serious work, has failed.

Identifying entities for your search

Daniel Russell, Google’s search guru, challenged readers of Search Research to find the places mentioned by Mark Twain in “Around the Equator” (Sept 3). It isn’t simple, as we see in Russell’s Answer (Part 1) to: Can you find the places Twain mentions in “Around the Equator”?. His approach is to identify the entities (in this case the place names) in the text. Thus the first step is to find an application that will analyze the text of Twain’s work.

(Note: I couldn’t find a Part 2 to the answer.)

JStor Daily – online magazine

JSTOR, an online for-fee archive of “academic journals, books and primary sources”, has announced the JSTOR Daily  of  featured articles from the collection. This is very eclectic – great way to add interest to the day.

JSTOR, Daily, Inside Higher Ed (Oct 1)

Wanting to make JSTOR’s content a little more digestible and to engage a different kind of audience, the library today is officially launching its new online magazine, JSTOR Daily. The slick-looking home page already features some 100 blog posts and original articles, most of which draw on and link to more expansive content already on JSTOR. Topics vary widely, from a note on the enduring relevance of Herman Melville, for example, to the economic history of tipping. The magazine intends to publish a several blog posts daily, plus at least one longer-form piece each Wednesday.