Digital Archiving

Digital archiving has reached an urgency as more records begin in digital format, and older ones are digitized. Jan Zastrow in Information Today introduces Top 10 Digital Archives Blogs (July 5)  There is much for the archivist or records manager to investigate here and some for the individual interested in personal archives and genealogy..

Here’s a list of bests to help you sift through the noise—online journals, blogs, and RSS and Twitter feeds—to keep you abreast of what’s happening in the quickly evolving world of digital archives, electronic records, digital preservation and curation, personal archiving, digital humanities, and more. Some are sponsored by august institutions, while others are more informal, idiosyncratic offerings from thought leaders in the industry. A caveat: These are all U.S.-centric, English-language sources, which do not span the universe of ideas about digital cultural heritage globally (for that, get started at the World Digital Library; wdl.org).

Evernote’s surprise

Evernote shocked its user base with an emailed announcement that it is raising the price of Plus and Premium without adding features, and that Basic users will be restricted to using the app on only two devices. Annoyingly Evernote never states the rates in its emails. It took Taylor Martin at CNet to unpack what this means for users.

Is Evernote Premium’s new price worth it? (July 1)

This is a very useful guide showing prices and features – and providing guidance to Basic users. I do use the app on more than two devices – but I think I can get by with using online access. He does point out that there is always OneNote, a very easy to use clipping and note taking tool – and it is free.

At LifeHacker, Thorin Klosowski has a guide to How to Jump Ship From Evernote and Take Your Data With You. He describes how to export notes, but more specifically, he shows how to move everything to OneNote or to Apple Notes.

My Activity at Google

There may be some advantages to being able to see your activity on all the Google properties – and on pages that serve up Google ads. This would especially be the case if you are researching a topic across media and need to keep a trail. Or you need to confirm something you found earlier.

Google’s new My Activity page lets you see all your Google history in one place, Napier Lopez, The Next Web (June 28)

Nonetheless, it’s a bit scary to realize that Google could track all activity rather than just web search and therefore deliver more ads. But it might also be true that the ads will be better directed. “Mainly, you can control which kind of ads show up everywhere, across various devices and websites.”

You can find this through “My Account” – or go directly to https://myactivity.google.com/

Longer Titles in SERP

Google is showing slightly longer titles in its search results partly because the left column in desktop results is narrower. Search Laboratory ran several tests to assess extent of change.

GOOGLE EXTENDS RESULTS COLUMN WIDTH (June 27)

Title matters a great deal to SEO and to searchers – “Longer titles and descriptions also allow more room for targeting the long-tail keywords that customers search for when they are closer to taking action, making them all the more valuable to marketers.”

Socratic Search

Socrates Search directs us to think as Socrates would in order to explore and examine – not just accept the first result. Ted Hunt, a graduate of the Royal College of Art in the UK, has developed a search engine that is based on Google Custom Search and assists the user in applying the Socratic method. These are: Seek Clarity, Challenge Assumptions, View Evidence, Explore Alternatives or Consider Implications.

Socrates Search Engine

Results do differ – or at least are reordered according to the button clicked. The custom search might be selecting  particular sources, or perhaps adding search terms. Would be nice to be able to see under the hood. For now – an interesting approach – and a reminder that we would do well to apply the Socractic method.

See Ted Hunt’s Socratic Search invites Google users to question their assumptions in dezeen (June 24)

Bibliometrics

It’s not often that we come across an article that compares Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar, and Microsoft Academic for citation analysis. Google Scholar Digest posted this study by Anne-Wil Harzing of Middlesex University, UK (June 13, 2016) Microsoft Academic versus Google Scholar, Scopus, and Web of Science: Anne-Wil Harzing’s case.

This article assesses Microsoft Academic coverage through a detailed comparison of the publication and citation record of a single academic for each the four main citation databases: Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, the Web of Science, and Scopus. Overall, this first small-scale case study suggests that the new incarnation of Microsoft Academic presents us with an excellent alternative for citation analysis. If our findings can be confirmed by larger-scale studies, Microsoft Academic might well turn out to combine the advantages of broader coverage, as displayed by Google Scholar, with the advantage of a more structured approach to data presentation, typical of Scopus and the Web of Science. If so, the new Microsoft Academic service would truly be a Phoenix arisen from the ashes.

Spoiler alert: Microsoft Academic was found to be stronger than Web of Science for publication and citation coverage, and at least equal to Scopus. “Only Google Scholar outperforms Microsoft Academic interms of both publications and citations.”

Importance of words

In web searching, as I said many times in my classes, it’s all about words – picking the exact ones for locating what you need. Dan Russell at Google shows how true this is in  a search challenge to find terms that would have been used in earlier times.

What was that word again? Effective searching with old terms. SearchResearch (June21)

the language of the past is somewhat different than the one we speak (and write) now.

As a consequence, when you’re trying to search for historical content, you sometimes (often?) have to shift your language to accommodate the way authors in the past would have written.

He lays out three examples – the strategies – types of sources to look for, the search terms, and results.

RankBrain update

Gary Illyes from Google talked with Danny Sullivan at the SMX conference about Google’s search operation, ranking methods, points of interest to SEO masters. Barry Schwartz summarized the points in . Key takeaways from the Google AMA: RankBrain, Panda, Penguin, bots & more.

RankBrain is of greatest interest. It is Google’s application of machine learning to improve its understanding of the query and ranking of results. Danny Sullivan explains in
Google uses RankBrain for every search, impacts rankings of “lots” of them (June 23)

… what we’ve understood about RankBrain: it seems largely used as a query refinement tool. Google seems to be using it now for every search to better understand what that search is about. After that, another aspect of RankBrain might influence what results actually appear and in what order, but not always.

Mistrusting the algorithms

Thoughtful look by Nancy K Herther at Gaming the (Google Search) System (Newsbreaks, June 21). Google denied manipulating search results to suppress hostile content about Hilary Clinton. There is no way of knowing. But scrubbing results and removing content happens frequently. It makes us mistrust the system.

A recent BBC report notes that “with more than 90% of the market in much of the world, Google’s dominance in the vital and lucrative business of searching the internet is clear. But does its mysterious and ever-changing search algorithm have too much power? Does this one force exert excessive influence over the information we all access, the success or failure of businesses, the reputation of individuals and even which political ideas triumph?” Maybe Google should begin to embrace transparency in the search.