Digital Repositories – Use Them

Digital Repositories - An important research resource

Digital Repositories – An important research resource

Many scholarly materials and research reports are not easily found by the big Web search engines. Google, even with Google Scholar, may not uncover the research and discussion that is available through a digital repository. There are thousands of these repositories created by universities, research centres, and other organizations to advance the work of their faculty, students, or members, and to offer the research to the public. Our challenge is to locate these.

HathiTrust is one (http://www.hathitrust.org). It partners with research institutions and librariesin the United States and internationally  to provide smooth access to digital collections of books, serials and publications. Its metadata enables search by subject, author, language, date range, country, and format.

Many digital repositories are associated with the open access (OA) movement for providing scholarly resources that are digital, free of charge, and free of most restrictions in use. There are two major directories to open access repositories for academic research.

Directory of Open Access Repositories in the UK – OpenDOAR – http://opendoar.org. It has over 2,600 listings, searchable by country, subject, repository type, language and a couple of other parameters, as well as a keyword search on content.

The Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR – http://roar.eprints.org) reports on growth and status of repositories. It can be used to locate repositories in a country or subject which you would then search directly.

Repositories can also be found through directories to users of a particular platform. Two of the prominent platforms are:

The University of Toronto created TSpace to “preserve and disseminate” the “scholary record” of the university – and makes this freely available to all users.  Repositories might also be a digital collection on a particular topic such as the ones listed on this University of Toronto page for  “local digital special collections”.

This is just a small sampling. Whenever academic research may be applicable to your search quest, consider the repositories.  Find more just by using repository as a search term together with your topic.

Reader Mode for Chrome

The designers of the Chrome browser are experimenting with a reader-mode button that will make a web page more readable on both mobile and desktop. Hallelujah – an antidote to cluttered pages with crazy fonts, boxes, and ads.

Google is working on a Chrome reading mode, try it out, Jessica Condiit, EnGadget (Feb 25)

Posting has instructions on how to activate this using the DOM Distiller in Chrome.

There is also the Readability app.

Net Neutrality for Now

“It’s official. The Internet will now be regulated as a public utility.” FCC made the right decision in a tight 3 to 2 vote, Democrat vs Republican. Broadband will be regulated as a Title II telecommunications service. However, many cable operators, phone companies, and wireless providers continue to oppose this and are sure to take it to the courts.

Net neutrality a reality: FCC votes to bring Internet under utility-style rules by Marguerite Reardon, CNet News (Feb 26)

GenealogyInTime Magazine

People working on their family history will want to explore GenealogyInTime Magazine. This is a substantial online resource for articles, news, and resources, and ti offers  two custom search engines: the Genealogy Search Engine, and the Family Tree Search Engine. There is also a free weekly e-newsletter. In fact the entire site is free with just a few Google ads to sustain it.

GenealogyInTime Magazine site

GenealogyInTime Magazine site

The GIT team knows web search – the articles on how to use Google are very good and include excellent guidance on using advanced search features (although section would benefit from a few updated screenshots). The writers examine the presence and consequences of geographic bias of search engines and the personalization of results, and recommend strategies and tools for circumventing both;  very few guides recognize those problems.

The site has articles for getting started in genealogy, guides to finding records, and tips on “brickwall” problems – my favourite was “How to read old handwriting”.

Based in Ottawa, Canada, GIT describes itself as “one of the largest independent and free genealogy website in the world (according to Alexa the internet traffic source). People like our website because we are independent and we provide valuable, honest information. We are also much more than just an online magazine. We are a genealogy platform with tools and resources to help people find their ancestors.”

Social Media Update

Social media are now a fact of life for 28% of the world’s population – mostly on Facebook, and mostly mobile.

The State of Social Media by Eric Martin, EContent (Feb 23)

Here are the figures:

Social platforms also continue to increase and, for the most part, thrive. In order, the top 10 most popular social networking sites (according to eBizMBA, Inc.) are Facebook (900 million estimated unique monthly visitors), Twitter (310 million), LinkedIn (255 million), Pinterest (250 million), Google+ (120 million), Tumblr (110 million), Instagram (100 million), VK (80 million), Flickr (65 million), and Vine (42 million).

There is a summary and analysis of the data from the Digital Statshot 002  (Nov 3, 2014)  at the  We Are Social blog. Report doesn’t have a geographic breakdown.

Google gathers answers

Fascinating examination of a patent by Google to determine facts about some topic from patterns on Web pages.

Google On Crawling The Web Of Data by Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea (Feb 22)

Of interest:

This type of pattern-matching and extraction of facts is part of how Google uses the Web as a database of information. By extracting facts and storing them in a data repository, like Google’s knowledge graph, it makes those facts available as direct answers.

“Right to be forgotten” – Yes or No?

Here is a thoughtful examination of the issues that underpin the “right to be forgotten” and Google’s response. It’s not black and white – the many aspects make the questions we need to address quite complex.

How Google determined our right to be forgotten, Julia Powles and Enrique Chaparro, The Guardian (Feb 18)

Google doesn’t show well.

“Nine months after the European ruling, it is clear that Google’s implementation has been fast, idiosyncratic, and allowed the company to shape interpretation to its own ends, as well as to gain an advantage on competitors and regulators forced into reactive mode. It avoided a broader and much deeper reflection on digital public space, information sedimentation, and the exploration of collaborative solutions between public and private actors – such as a joint request service across different search engines, with processes for getting confidential advice from publishers and public officials.”

And we need to learn to distinguish between public and private.

“So, if we concede that the internet is public space, that the web is the public record, then Google, on its logic, is the custodian and indexer of our personal records. We must be careful to distinguish the offerings of a handful of internet services from the real public record guaranteed by law, from archives, and even from human memory itself – which will all continue to be available when the amusement park closes.”

Reading Level in Google Search

Google Operating System has reported a Google Reading Level Bug (Feb 18). Reading level is a hard-to-find and therefore easy-to-forget search feature on web searches. Find it by picking Search Tools > All Results > Reading level. When it works it helps you zero in on content that is “advanced” or scholarly, vs basic / elementary or intermediate.

Google is still identifying the advanced items but isn’t capturing them in the graph.

google-readinglevel-2015

Pinterest’s Guided Search

If you have some time for pictures and serendipity, this guide to using Pinterest’s Guided Search might be just the ticket.

How to get the most out of Pinterest’s Guided Search, Amy-Mae Elliott, Mashable (Feb 16)

The author says, “Guided Search is a clever yet easy way to sift through Pinterest’s 750 million boards and 30 billion pins to find what you’re looking for.” Posting has a short video and several screenshots. Can’t go astray.