Christina's LIS Rant
Thursday, December 30, 2004
  Added a Gigablast site search
Like everyone else, my search needs have not been met by my little google api search box. There are several reasons for this... but I've wanted something better. So when Wackå suggested Gigablast (and I remembered a few of the Gurus talking about it), I thought, "why not?"

It might not be up to speed yet, because I just asked Gigablast to start indexing my site. We'll see!
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
  Waypath - Blog Discovery Engine
Pointed out by SC (who heard from g) .
Waypath is releasing an updated web site. Yay! They have had really neat tools but even if you knew they were there, you used to have to fumble around to get to them. Now right from the front page you get a snapshot of what coolness is available. A while ago I found out what advanced search they had through their blog, but hopefully the new redesign will make a lot of that more obvious.

Waypath (as opposed to Feedster, et al) does semantic analysis of blog post content, not just the feed. The n is smaller but the relatedness, relevance, precision is much better.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
  The 26 things meme
From Jack V.
You type in the first letter in your browser's address box, and put down what the auto-complete gives you.

a. http://asistkblogpanel.blogspot.com/ (actually, #1 is our intranet start page, but this is #1)
b. http://www.bloglines.com/myblogs_subs
c. http://christinaslibraryrant.blogspot.com/ (now I'm seeming really self-centered! chemnetbase is up there, too.)
d. http://www.dialog.com
e. http://engnetbase.com (actually our internal timesheet is #1)
f. http://www.furl.net
g. http://www.google.com/gmail
h. http://www.hotmail.com
i. http://isiknowledge.com (Web o' Science's page)
j. http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/ApJ/home.html (not actually #1, but #2, can you guess what #1 is?)
k. http://www.knittersreview.com/forum/active.asp
l. http://www.library.jhu.edu/ (a sister institution's library, not mine)
m. http://www.maryland.gov
n. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?CMD=search&DB=pubmed this is a surprise, when did I search PubMed last?
o. http://www.orbitz.com
p. http://www.professional-lurker.com/
q. http://www.quacktrack.com
r. http://repec.org (this is a cool site)
s. http://stlq.info (#1 is actually our internal SharePoint site)
t. http://www.technorati.com/
u. http://www.uspto.gov/
v. http://www.valueline.com (I'm into business searching a little now)
w. http://wotan.liu.edu/dois/(#1 is our library's portal)
x. http://www.xilinx.com/
y. (no y)
z. http://www.zylstra.org/blog/archives/001313.html
Friday, December 17, 2004
  The dumbing down of the library tools
While others seem to be celebrating the googlizing of the OPACs and databases, I have some strong reservations.

According to the database providers, end users want to find a box wherever they are (in e-mail, in word processing software, on the desktop, in a browser), put in a maximum of two words and have exactly what they need from all collections of information (the web, ejournals, books, etc.). CSA's upcoming release is a step in that direction, but what you get is more like mystery meat than the best answers from the correct source selected for you. Slight disclaimer here: it's not actually been demonstrated for me, these are my observations from playing around. For the trial it starts you on the easy search. We have the choice of subject areas: "Natural Sciences" or "Technology." Hmm. Those are real specific. It's yet another click to select which database you want.

Let's try a real world search. hypersonic AND isolator*. I know that this is in A&HT. 0 results under technology. 0 results under natural sciences -- wait , wait -- don't tell me that oceanic abstracts is the default database for technology?! Ok, I get 22 results when I select A&HT (and I get 17 in the old interface?).... ok, so now I got out of the database and got back in and now "technology" gives me the same 22? Operator error? Don't get me wrong, once you get the results the suggested terms are really cool. I also like being able to add them to the search with either AND or OR.

We also were just shown the Jan 2005 release of EV2/Compendex and it has a new easy search, too. With EV2 the library can decide what search screen the users will start with so tentatively we can just ignore the easy search like we do with Ebsco. This might be the case with the CSA product- I don't know. Another potential difference is that EV2 recommends limiters based on your search. I can see a customer actually using this as a shortcut instead of playing with the thesaurus. In general, though, my customers are very savvy information consumers and I don't think it's fair to assume they can't grasp more complicated search screens.

That really sums up my problem: web searches get hundreds of thousands of results and we know that users will seldom go past the first page or so of results. When databases have just this one block-every field in the database search and then sort by relevance... what confidence do we have that the user will find anything of interest? What if it sorts by date? You might have something completely bizarre come up first. What if you're an electronics engineer searching in the CSA easy search for "translator" and all you get are things from the polisci and literature databases when all you wanted were frequency converters! Do you call the library or just assume that there's nothing there for you? (and then go around grumbling about how the library doesn't serve engineers).

Ok, so what's my point? In a research setting like a university or research lab, offering the easy search might be attractive, but doesn't in the end serve the customers well. They will be tempted to use it and will not get the best results out of the databases. IMHO.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
  Woo-hoo, we just got our copy of Clyde's new book
It's Christmas every day sitting next to the technician who processes the deliveries from YBP!

Today's delivery brought Laurel A. Clyde, Weblogs and Libraries (Rollinsford, NH: Chandos, 2004. Not in open worldcat yet). Not to come across as a stalker, but I've been linking to her presentations and papers for a while (here and here recently).
This book discusses the topic 'weblogs and libraries' from two main perspectives: weblogs as sources of information for libraries and librarians; and weblogs as tools that libraries can use to promote their services or to provide a means of communication with their clients.
No time to read this from cover to cover now, but from first browse this book looks great. Clyde carefully presents positives and negatives and gives lots of examples. Her background in teaching school librarians shows as she also mentions evaluating online information. She compares and contrasts different tools and paths in neat, easy to read tables. Ok, I'm done gushing. Just go buy it already. It's only $55 for the paperback.

Update 12/17: SC points to a review in Free Pint. I pretty much agree with the review but I'm not sure more recommendations would make the book more useful. By limiting her recommendations to just the well-established a-listers, the links are perhaps more likely to still be good in a few months.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
  Internet Librarian 2004: Rita Vine, "Evaluating Search Engines & Tools"
Vine's presentation on how to evalutate new web search engines. Very practical and includes some nice tips.
  scitech library question - The Indexing of SAE Publications in Compendex - The Ongoing Discussion
I am so glad R.R. blogged this. Long story short, Compendex doesn't index SAE pubs because SAE won't let them.
--Start Rant--
SAE mistakenly believes that allowing indexing of their publications will decrease sales of their digital library. Are they on drugs? For those of us who can't afford or don't need the entire library but WILL pay up to $75 for articles -- how are we supposed to know what articles exist? Hop out of comfortable DIALOG, out of our cozy federated searches, out of EV2, and jaunt over to their crappy site? Note what happened to poor MM -- I guess to be thorough, we'll have to remember this.
-- End Rant --
Update: my rant was originally marked as a rant (but blogger tried to interpret the tags?). now re-marked
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
  Om Malik on Broadband: End of the Personal Blogger
Pointed out on the Topix blog feed 12/7/2004.
This is just one of a recent pile of articles lamenting the commercialization of the blogosphere and the fact that the money and attention is still (they say again) going to the professional marketing folks. This is the same thing that people said about the internet a while ago.

Why do you blog? I don't blog for money, but I have no problem with anyone who does as long as they are upfront about it. Blogging is a channel, a tool, a format. It does not follow that the content must necessarily be _______. Many of the columns in magazines and traditional media tell corporate bloggers to "keep it real" or to maintain an "authentic" voice to get readers. I guess it depends on your audience? Companies have gotten burned making up fake bloggers, too.

I blog for PKM, networking, KFTF... IOW I agree with Efimova's reasons (stated here and here). J points to some other reasons people blog. Most say they have similar reasons. If you pay attention, however, when a blogger notices that he/she has gained an audience, the blog changes tone. It's now someone talking to a known audience, no longer the jotting of random thoughts. I'd love to have the time to actually track over time the diction, tone, etc., in a blog to the # of subscribers or hits to the site. I bet you'd see some sort of correlation.

All of these random thoughts do have a point: blog for your purpose and audience (whether it's yourself or 5M crazed admirers). Let others blog for their purpose and audience. Don't lament the evolution of the channel, it's not becoming.
Friday, December 03, 2004
  InfoToday Blog, Online: Adding Value to An Intranet
What still no permalinks? Aack. Scroll, scroll, scroll down to "Blogs in Libraries and business Settings" by Nancy Garman. (Friday 12/3 at 4:46pm, must be GMT?). They had a blog track (like Rage Against the Machine's bomb track...). So anyone blog these sessions? (one, another (presenter) ... anyone?)

Dr. Clyde has posted her presentations: Weblogs and Libraries: The Potential and the Reality and Enterprise Blogging.

Peter Scott posted his presentation: RSS for beginners

Update: 1/3. I just noticed that Cronin-Lukas from the Big Blog Company posted her ppt presentation, "Effective use of blogs in business: How companies can talk to themselves". (Sorry- I'm the one who asked her to do it, but it dropped off my radar)
Thursday, December 02, 2004
  Trying MSN Spaces
It's a little, no let me say, a lot wonky right now. Probably because of all the traffic.

So far, these differences from blogger:

  1. allows trackbacks
  2. syndicated in rss 2.0
  3. allows uploads/storage ~10MB, integrated file management
  4. allows categories
  5. allows levels of access (don't get too excited, it's only 3 levels)
  6. statistics are included
  7. the wonky thing isn't letting me look at the templates

Update: ok, cool. it's now letting me play with the template and you can actually move stuff around and add or subtract modules -- all without using HTML, etc. But what if you want to use HTML????

Wednesday, December 01, 2004
  Read my review: Using the Mathematics Literature
Christina K Pikas, Review of Using the Mathematics Literature. E-Streams v7 n11 (November 2004). I'm not sure how long this has been up. I'm a month late in my next review, though, so no complaints from me.

Also, I'm not sure that I actually linked to my previous one, Christina K Pikas, Review of Electron Capture Detector and the Study of Reactions with Thermal Electrons. E-Streams v7 n10 (October 2004). Here.

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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
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