Digital History

The availability of digital resources on the Web fraises new issues for historical research . The February 2016 issue of the American Historical Review has five articles concerning “reviewing digital history.”  The Introduction by Alex Lichenstein  discusses the state of digital history today and  introduces reviews of two new sites.

“Both of these exchanges remind us that the burgeoning world of digital scholarship deserves fuller critical engagement through these kinds of in-depth reviews. “

Background and issues are given in Googling History: The AHR Explores Implications of Using Digital Sources for Historians (May 16) on the American Historical Association blog.

That article refers to a list of online collections of primary sources — Digital Primary Sources – very eclectic – useful for browsing to see the types, and you might find something related to your research interest.

BBC Recipes

The BBC decision  to remove 11,000 recipes from its website reminds us of the ephermeral nature of web content and the consequences.

BBC unveils shake-up of online services including recipes website, BBC (May 17) — “The BBC has announced that a number of websites, including BBC Food and Newsbeat, are to close as part of plans to save £15m.”

UK Web Archive blog reported that it will archive the recipes from the food pages — Saving BBC Recipes Website (May 17).  So will three other archiving services: Internet Archive, Library of Alexandria and the National Library of Iceland.

BBC announced the next day (May 18) that it would move most of the content to BBCGoodFood, its commercial food site. Publishers are not happy. BBC’s recipes U-turn is a cynical move, say its rivals observed the Guardian (May 18)

Mike Jeffs at Branded3 looked at the change from another point of view — How will removing BBC recipes affect search? Other recipe sites will rank more highly in searches especially on niche items.    BBCGoodFood which already has had larger visibility than the BBC food section will gain 1.8 million keywords to optimize on.

Search “assistants”

Google had much to say about the new “Google assistant” at its annual developers’ conference, Google I/O. It has AI capability and will be built into apps. Danny SUllivan explained in Meet Google assistant: A new search platform, rather than a gadget or an app (May 18)

“So what is Google assistant, in the end? Google assistant combines two things: Google’s expertise in extracting information from content across the web and from partners plus its machine learning smarts to understand what people are asking.”

Broadly, these are called digital assistants. Others are Siri from Apple, Cortana – Microsoft, Echo in ALexa – Amazon. Paul Hunter at State of Digital asked Will Digital Assistants Replace Search? No – because the assistants are most useful for directions, shopping – the kinds of questions spoken to a smartphone – not deeper research into a topic or need. Hunter closes with “Voice search and digital assistants are definitely going to become a big factor in digital, but will it be the end of search? I doubt it.”

Sundar Pichai, Google’s CEO, sees Google’s next stage to be in the realms of artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Google’s CEO sums up his AI vision: “Hi. How can I help?” CNet (May 17)

Products that reflect this and were shown at the I/O conference:

… a messaging app (which suggests comparisons to Facebook Messenger), a voice-activated speaker and smart home control hub (sort of like Amazon’s Echo), a video chat app (think Apple’s Facetime) and a new hardware and software system for VR built around a smartphone (shades of Samsung Gear VR).

The assistant will be “baked in” to new products. Google Home is a smart home speaker – talk to it anytime and use it to manage the house. Allo is a messaging app that will compete with Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Kik.

Google Translate News

There have been at least two important postings about Google Translate in the Official Blog.

Ten years of Google Translate (April 28) – yes Translate has been with us for 10 years. It now handles 103 languages.

One of the bigger developments is Word Lens – using this app on your mobile phone for “reading menus, street signs and more” – works for 28 languages.

Translate where you need it: in any app, offline, and wherever you see Chinese (May 11) – announces Tap to Translate on Android – copy the text and get the translation.

Posting also announces offline mode for iOS – download the language package and be able to translate when offline.

Recipes with IFTTT and Reddit

Tara Calashain shows how to use IFTTT (If this, then that) to set up automatic search queries on Reddit where its 8.5 million users post millions of news stories. In it she shows how to set up a recipe for receiving an email whenever a Reddit search mentions online museum. She found it was a much better way than using Google Alerts on Reddit items.

Keeping Up With Reddit: Use IFTTT, Not Google Alerts, Research Buzz (May 10)

IANA Transfer

This September, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the organization hat has been overseeing domain names on the Internet, will pass the responsibilities of its Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to a global body. It’s been called the IANA Transfer. Some worry about the loss of U.S. Government control of domain naming and aspects of infrastructure; others feel that cooperation among nations will be easier.

Deadline looms for U.S. to cede control over Internet naming conventions, Stephen Karmazyn, Globe and Mail (May 8)

Google Scholar – journals and citations

Google, to my amazement, produces Google Scholar Metrics (GSM) for authors to use to ” gauge the visibility and influence of recent articles in scholarly publications” (From FAQ). It shows for a journal its five-year h-index and h-median metrics. These are measure of journal impact. The h-index ” reflects both the number of publications and the number of citations per publication” (Wikipedia). Searchers may use these lists to identify journals that Google Scholar has indexed, the articles and number of times cited. Current data is for 2015.

But GSM shows only a small portion of the journals. Enter Journal Scholar Metrics from EC3 Research Group: Evaluación de la Ciencia y la Comunicación Científica. Universidad de Granada. It displays data for Social Sciences and Humanities (SS&H) journals included in Google Scholar Metrics (GSM). Journals are classified by subject and country. For Canada, as an example, there are 210 jounrals listed showing the h-index and with links to Google Scholar content.