WW1 Prisoners of War database

Here’s another resource of war records for the  researcher into World War One  – the names and information about people held in the prisoner-of-war camps.

New, Free Website Has Millions of World War I Prisoner of War Records, Genealogy Insider (Aug )

Records were collected by and are made available through the International Committee of the Red Cross — http://grandeguerre.icrc.org/

Records include the ledger entries for prisoners, some postcards or pictures of camps, and a few personal accounts.

Must have been a mammoth job to digitize it all – see the video at http://grandeguerre.icrc.org/en/MakingOf

Information Retrieval Techniques

It takes experience and discipline to be skilled researcher. Judith Tinnes, in this article on the art of searching for terrorism literature, presents a very thorough and clear description of the research process and types of online resource and provides sound advice on how to track down the best material. It is the best article I have ever read on information retrieval techniques: It instructs the reader in matters of approach and tools, and includes detail on techniques such as those of snowballing, citation searching, and citation analyses. You don’t need to be researching terrorism literature to benefit from this, but the topic does give it an extra frisson.


The Art of Searching: How to Find Terrorism Literature in the Digital Age
by Judith Tinnes, Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol 7, No 4 (2013)

This guide provides an overview of information retrieval techniques for locating high-quality literature on terrorism and counter-terrorism. Starting from general considerations on conducting a literature search – taking into account the specifics of terrorism studies – instructions are provided on how to find particular literature types by using different search methods and information retrieval systems, followed by information on how to refine a search by employing focused search strategies. The explanations are enriched with numerous links to recommendable resources. The included examples are focused on terrorism studies, but the general search mechanics can be applied to other research domains as well.

Wikipedia Affected by Right-to-be-forgotten

This has become ridiculous. Why did the people who objected to entries in Wikipedia not go directly to it and seek removal?

“Right To Be Forgotten” To Blame For Removal Of 50 Wikipedia Links From EU Search Results, by Amy Gesenhues, Search Engine Land (Aug 6)

“According to a release today from the Wikimedia Foundation, 50 links to its Wikipedia site have been removed from Google search results in Europe on account of the recent Right to Be Forgotten legislation.”

Reference Works Online

Reference sources have been moving to online for several years. This article in Online Searcher takes a good hard look at the pros and cons of online reference products. Ease of access has  greatly improved, but authority may not be clear and the online version of a reference work may not be complete.

The Ebb and Flow of Reference Products , By Denise Beaubien Bennett, Online Searcher (July / August 2014)

“Have reference sources eroded in quality in the online era? We’re all aware of the challenges facing us and our users in vetting (or not) the authority and credibility of free sources available online. But the quality of contemporary vetted sources is worth examining in its own right.”

Many excellent online reference works are commented upon in this article.

Google features

Google features come and go – almost always without explanation.

Jon Wiley, a search designer at Google, spoke briefly about this – mostly it is to avoid bloatware. Removing features, he said, “is one of the toughest but most important parts of designing products – deciding what to trim as you move forward”

Google Search Designer Explains Why Some Features & Tools Get Axed, Search Engine Land (Jul 28)

And – Google may have added a new timeline to the Knowledge Graph.

Google Testing Timeline View In Knowledge Graph, Search Engine Land (Jul 28)

“Google is testing a new knowledge graph interface for showing a timeline of data, facts and knowledge in the top carousel section of the Google search results.”

Whether to use the Boolean OR

Aaron Tay in this blog post takes on the thorny topic of whether using the Boolean OR in a search query is really worthwhile even at proprietary databases such as Web of Science of EbscoHost. He is so daring as to write, “that I believe increasingly such a search pattern of stringing together synonyms of concepts generally does not improve the search results and can even hurt them. ”

Why Nested Boolean search statements may not work as well as they did, by Aaron Tay, Musings About Librarianship (Jul 14)

I have been teaching very selective use of OR in web searching. Mostly it’s not needed and when used can muddy the results. But it is still beneficial for the searcher to analyze the question to identify concepts and know when to expand a concept. We no longer need to expand for spelling variations and less so on synoymns EXCEPT when we want to control the word use.

Article seems to give balanced account of need to use OR in some databases (such as PubMed), and the much looser approach with the Web.

Predictive Search on your Smartphone

The future is nearly upon us. Smartphones come with very smart digital assistants. Google has been in the lead with Google Now on Android and iOS. Microsoft has launched Cortana available on Windows Phone 8.1 and Nokia phones. Danny Sullivan identifies the difference between the digital assistant and predictive search. Google Now, and to some extent, Cortana do both. Apple’s Siri only assists.

“Predictive search is easily confused with digital assistants. They’re not one-and-the-same. Siri, Google Now and Cortana are all digital assistants that will add reminders to your calendar or help you do certain things with your phone, like sending a text, playing a song or setting an alarm.”

Life With Cortana, Microsoft’s Predictive Search Challenger To Google Now & Siri, by Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land (Jul 21)

Read on for detailed comparison and some tips on how to use Google Now and Cortana. Want one?

Toxnet online course

Health sciences librarians and health or environmental sciences professionals in the United States will be interested in this new online course – Discovering Toxnet – by the US National Library of Medicine (Oct 20 to Nov 14, 2014). Note: Open only to residents of the United States.

“TOXNET is a web-based system of databases covering hazardous chemicals, environmental health, toxic releases, chemical nomenclature, poisoning, risk assessment and regulations, and occupational safety and health. The independent modules cover TOXLINE, ChemIDplus, TRI, TOXMAP, Hazardous Substances Data Bank, IRIS, Has-Map, LactMed, WISER, CHEMM, REMM, LiverTox and more. You’ll learn about the resources through videos, guided tutorials, and discovery exercises”

Google Instant Translate

Google shows a new “instant answer” box for translating passages. Enter translate as a keyword – followed by what to what – example: translate french to english. Google displays a box for entering (or speaking) the text. Can also hear the translation.

Google Translate as an instant answer box

Google Translate as an instant answer box

New Google Translation Tools: Edit Text, Change Language & Hear Translation Directly Within Search, Amy Gesenhues, Search Engine Land (Jul 16)

Managing your email

Good advice about managing email in this article:

  • don’t check email every 10 minutes; 4 or 5 times a day is sufficient
  • it can be ok not to reply immediately
  • short is good – 5 sentences should cover it
  • inbox is not a to-do list (this will be the hardest to do)
  • organize messages into folders
  • handle a message only ONCE
  • cut out the pointless – unsubscribe from those notices

E-mail isn’t the problem. You are by Harvey Schachter, Globe and Mail (Jul 14)