In search of specialty search engines

Bev Butula at Wisconsin Law Journal wrote about five specialty search engines as alternatives to Google: Science.gov for science questions, Mednar.com – medical, FreeLunch.com – economic and financial, Bankrate.com – financial, and MagPortal for business (and other) magazine articles.

BEV BUTULA: In search of the best search Wisconsin Law Journals (Feb 12, 2014)

It’s been some time since I looked at MagPortal – good breakdown of subject areas but doesn’t seem to have many magazines. More for browsing than searching.

Deep Web Technologies blogged about the article because two on that list are theirs (Science.gov and Mednar.com) – In search of the best search

It named three others that we should add to our lists.

  • Environar.com – Energy and the Environment.
  • National Library of Energy – the DOE’s National Resource for Energy Literacy, Innovation and Security.
  • Biznar.com – “a federated search portal that aggregates social networks, financial sources, government sources, and news for business researchers”

Europeana 1914-1918

This year is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War 1. We are sure to see many announcements of historical materials being made available online.

Europeana (http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en) brings together content from 20 countries – film, images, family papers, and memorabilia.

Europeana 1914-1918: A new website that brings all sides of World War One together launches in Berlin, featuring 10,000 items from the British Library’s collections, Press release (Jan 29)

Europeana 1914-1918 is full of original source material – digitised photographs, maps, diaries, newspapers, letters, drawings and other content that can be used by teachers, historians, journalists, students and interest groups to create new resources.

WW1 Canadian Expeditionary Force – digitization

LAC seems to be receiving funds to digitize personnel service files from World War 1.

Library and Archives Canada to Digitize 640,000 First World War Service Files (Jan 27) “As part of the centennial commemoration of the First World War, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will digitize 640,000 personnel service files of the First World War’s Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) members.”

Virtual Library on International Resources

VLWWW Virtual Library is still a resource to check.  This is as old as the Web itself and began as a “virtual library” of recommended resources on topics developed and maintained by academics.

Professor Wayne A. Selcher at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania has been one of these experts. His collection is on International Resources.  He reports that it “now has over 2000 carefully selected, annotated links in 35 international affairs categories. It is frequently maintained and should be of use to, students, professors, researchers, and website visitors, among others.” Explore the collection at http://www2.etown.edu/vl/

This guide is a premier tool for finding the best resources related to international affairs, for digging into the authoritative resources in this specialty, and for getting out of the Google search trap.It will direct you to scholarly  journals, search guides, specialized search engines, news sources, and other web resources.   Unfortunately, the subject guide/directory is  a dying breed because of the labour needed to check, assess, and stay abreast.  Make use of this one while you can.

Wikipedia needs booster shot

Big, featured story in MIT Technical Review (Oct 25) on The Decline of Wikipedia by Tom Simonite.  It’s the sixth most used web site but volunteers are falling away and new content tends to the trivial.  Wikipedia Foundation is trying to change this.

The foundation’s campaign will bring the first major changes in years to a site that is a time capsule from the Web’s earlier, clunkier days, far removed from the easy-to-use social and commercial sites that dominate today. “Everything that Wikipedia is was utterly appropriate in 2001 and it’s become increasingly out of date since,” says Sue Gardner, executive director of the foundation, which is housed on two drab floors of a downtown San Francisco building with a faulty elevator. “This is very much our attempt to get caught up.” She and Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, say the project needs to attract a new crowd to make progress. “The biggest issue is editor diversity,” says Wales. He hopes to “grow the number of editors in topics that need work.”

We’ll hope for the best.

Canadian Pacific Railway in British Columbia

History and railroad buffs will appreciate  The Canadian Pacific Railway Collection of digital photographs available from the Vancouver Public Library.  The 1,500 photos date from 1880s to 1950s.

These images provide a fascinating insight into the role of the railway in the development of the province. The pictures portray rural and urban railway stations; railway bridges that are true engineering feats reaching out across the challenging topography of the province; the workers who laid the tracks and manned the locomotives; the passengers who travelled on the railway; and a myriad of buildings, hotels, yards and ships, all of which were part of the Canadian Pacific Railway in British Columbia.

Updated CI guide

Sabrina Pacifici at LLRX.com has updated her guide to web resources on competitive intelligence — Competitive Intelligence – A Selective Resource Guide – Completely Updated – September 2013 / It’s a valuable resource for finding specialty sites and search engines. I quibble with a few choices – such as Exalead for search (not as fresh, doesn’t rank as well as Google, Bing or Duckduckgo), and any of the Infospace metasearch products (Metacrawler, Dogpile). And I would add Bing Video search and Bing Image search – both of which are challenges to Google’s. This guide is an excellent starting point for people new to legal and business research, and a refresher for those who are stuck on old favourites.

The Very Best from Scout

Best-of lists always save time and usually delight.  This is true of the Internet Scout’s list of the very best sites they have reviewed in the past academic year. This year’s has some history, art, architecture, technology – digital, health, education, and calming sounds from Seaquence – fascinating “experiment in musical composition” – must be tried.  Peruse at Best of the Scout Report.