Thursday, 18 December 2008

Turning the page on turnpages


So Detroit newspaper executives have announced a massive restructure - they're not the only ones!

Part of the restructure will see:
  • The Detroit Free Press (Gannett-owned) printed on Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
  • The Detroit News (MediaNews Group-owned) printed on Thursdays and Fridays.
  • A paid digital-replica subscription service on other days.
  • A paid thinner editions sold on newsstands on other days.
Phew ... but it's the "digital-replica" part which got me thinking. You can take a look at the Detroit Free Press version here.

Lots of news(paper) outlets put out e-editions of their print editions, but why?

There's a few reasons that I can think of, off the cuff.

The first is that e-editions are loved by advertising sales reps. What's easier than saying to a customer (advertiser - if you are one of these people who call readers 'customers') that their ad will appear online. Added value for the advertiser, surely. Well, not quite. How long will it be before advertisers start to ask just how effective e-edition advertising is?

The second is that it's fairly easy to do. Why not offer the online reader the chance to see the print edition in all its glory? But while they are getting the print edition online, they aren't getting the benefits of online - ie no interactivity, limited search capability, clunky interface.

And the third reason we use turnpage suites is because they are a comfortable bridge from print to a 'kind of digital' for people who haven't yet discovered the wonders of the web and all it can bring - that includes readers and staff members. Subs get to see their finely created pages online (design is indisputably something we need to see more of online), traditional 'print journalists' see something familiar on screen and the reader can access the pages of their favourite read anywhere in the world.

But the novelty soon wears off when they realise the web is better than that.

The Detroit titles have opted for an interesting interface for their e-edition, while my turnpage suite of choice is Issuu - yes that's right, it's free.

I have plans to upload back-dated editions of some of the titles currently under my remit, to create an archive of pre-web editions. But aside from creating a digital archive, I wonder just how long the newspaper industry will desperately cling on to this print/web hybrid safety blanket.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

BarCamp Liverpool - brilliant speakers, brilliant event


BarCamp's first visit to Liverpool was fantastic.

If you haven't heard of BarCamp (and until a few weeks ago I hadn't), it is described as "an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment". Social networking in its truest form.

The event attracts movers and shakers and anyone interested in social media, the web and all things digital. And BarCamp Liverpool attracted people from around the country.

The way it works is that attendees are also guest speakers. You then fill your time how you like by choosing which talks/demonstrations/workshops you want to attend.

And I attended some crackers.

Some of the highlights were:

  • Turning an idea into a business - with Andy Brown
  • Setting up a news site on WordPress - with Dave Coveney
  • Won't somebody please think of the users - with Ian Pouncey
  • How to create a killer screencast - with Don McAllister
  • Open source law - with John O'Shea
  • Networked democracy - with Rob McKinnon
  • Public data online - with Julian Todd and Aidan McGuire


All absolutely brilliant.
I'm already looking forward to the next BarCamp.

And while I'm still wading through a packed notebook, I'm sure I'll be revisiting one or two BarCamp themes in future blogs.

Quick tips to search the web like an expert - How to use Google

Tip 28:

Try a different search engine

Google is a very useful tool, but it does not always find the pages you want, so it is just as well to keep some alternatives handy. The main ones include stalwarts Alta Vista and All The Web, plus Vivisimo Vivisimo.com and Teoma. There are also "metasearch" search engines such as Dogpile and Metacrawler, which will send your query to several search engines at once. Google knows you have a choice, and it doesn't hurt to exercise it from time to time.


  1. Graball - http://www.graball.com/ Search two different search engines side by side and compare results.
  2. Use 'site search' to search within a specific, individual site or to a particular type of site e.g. UK government sites. Especially useful for sites that have poor navigation or awful internal search engines. Use the site: command, for example site: gov.uk or use the Advanced Search screens of the search engines.
  3. Use file format search to limit your search to one or more file formats, for example PDF, PPT, XLS. A good way of focusing your search: many government and industry/market reports are published as PDFs, statistics in spreadsheet format, and PowerPoints are a good way of tracking down experts on a subject. Use the Advanced Search screens or the filetype: command, for example filetype:ppt
  4. Intelways - http://www.intelways.com/. Type in your search once and then run it through individual search engines one by one. The search engines are grouped together by type, for example Image, News, Reference. A useful reminder of what else is out there other than Google and that perhaps you should be thinking of searching different types of information.
  5. Numeric Range Search. Available only in Google and searches for numbers within a specified range. The syntax is 1st number..2nd number. For example:
    TV advertising forecasts 2008..2015
    or
    toblerone 1..5 kg
  6. Alacrawiki Spotlights http://www.alacrawiki.com/. Extremely useful in providing reviews and commentary on industry specific web sites that have statistics, market research and news. Invaluable if you need to get up to speed on key resources in a sector or industry.
  7. Panoramio. http://www.panoramio.com/. Now owned by Google. A geolocation-oriented photo sharing service with uploaded photos presented as a mashup with Google Earth.
  8. Wayback Machine - http://www.archive.org/. For tracking down copies of pages or documents that have disappeared from the original web site. Type in the address of the web site or the full URL of the document, if you know it. Note: this is not guaranteed but worth a try for older documents that are unlikely to be in the search engine caches.
  9. Google Book Search . Useful for searching within books that Google has been allowed to scan, and in particular older text books.
  10. Use anything but Google! For example - Ask.com, Exalead.com, Live.com, Yahoo.com . For a day, try out other search tools to see if you can survive without Google. You may go back to Google as your first port of call but at least you will have discovered the strengths and key features of the alternatives.
  11. For current news try Google News and its alert service (it's free!). And don't forget blogs, for example Google Blogsearch, Ask- Blogs, Blogpulse, Technorati.
  12. Blogpulse trends. Click on the graph icon on the results page to see how often your search terms have been mentioned in blog postings over time. Used by many of us who monitor competitor or industry intelligence to see what are hot topics and when. Many of the 'peaks' will tie in with press announcements: it is those that don't that are really interesting. Click on the peaks in the graph to see the postings.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Quick tips to search the web like an expert - How to use Google

Tip 27:

Syntax Search Tricks

Using a special syntax is a way to tell Google that you want to restrict your searches to certain elements or characteristics of Web pages. Google has a fairly complete list of its syntax elements at www.google.com/help/operators.html. Here are some advanced operators that can help narrow down your search results.

Intitle: at the beginning of a query word or phrase (intitle:"Three Blind Mice") restricts your search results to just the titles of Web pages.

Intext: does the opposite of intitle:, searching only the body text, ignoring titles, links, and so forth. Intext: is perfect when what you're searching for might commonly appear in URLs. If you're looking for the term HTML, for example, and you don't want to get results such as www.mysite.com/index.html, you can enter intext:html.

Link: lets you see which pages are linking to your Web page or to another page you're interested in. For example, try typing in link:http://www.pcmag.com.

Try using site: (which restricts results to top-level domains) with intitle: to find certain types of pages. For example, get scholarly pages about Mark Twain by searching for intitle:"Mark Twain"site:edu. Experiment with mixing various elements; you'll develop several strategies for finding the stuff you want more effectively. The site: command is very helpful as an alternative to the mediocre search engines built into many sites.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Quick tips to search the web like an expert - How to use Google

Tip 26:

Use Google's Other Specialized Searches

The Google Directory isn't the only alternative Google offers to its main search engine. Depending on the type of search you're doing, you may get better results by using one of Google's more specialized search sites. These include:

Google Apple Macintosh Search searches the main http://www.apple.com domain and other Apple-related sites.

Google Blog Search searches blogs and blog postings.

Google Book Search searches the full text of hundreds of thousands of fiction and non-fiction books.

Google BSD UNIX Search searches a variety of sites that specialize in the BSD version of the UNIX operating system.

Google Groups searches the UseNet archives for relevant articles and postings.

Google Linux Search searches a variety of Linux-related sites.

Google Microsoft Search searches the main http://www.microsoft.com domain and other Microsoft-related sites.

Google News searches a variety of news sites for up-to-the-minute news headlines—as well as historical newspaper archives dating back two centuries.

Google Scholar searches a database of scholarly journals, articles, papers, theses, and books, as well as select university and research libraries.

Google U.S. Government Search searches a variety of U.S. government websites—which makes it the best place to search for official government forms, information, reports, and the like.

Google University Search searches a database of more than 600 university websites—great for finding course schedules, admission information, and the like.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Quick tips to search the web like an expert - How to use Google

Tip 25:

Search the Google Directory

Google indexes billions and billions of web pages in its search database - which more often than not produces an overwhelming number of search results. The quantity is there, but sometimes you'd rather have a few quality results.

When quality matters more than quantity, bypass the main Google search engine and use the Google Directory instead. The Google Directory is a relatively small database of web page listings, each of which is handpicked by a team of human editors. The listings in the Google Directory are then annotated and organized into relevant topic categories. You can browse the directory via category, or search for specific terms.

The Google Directory is a useful alternative to searching the massive Google web page index. Google Directory results are more focused and of uniformly higher quality than what you find in the larger search index, and also help you to get a feel of what's available in any given category. Plus, you get the advantage of browsing by category instead of searching, if that's your style.

To access the Google Directory, click the More link on the Google home page and then select Directory on the following page. Alternately, you can go directly to the Google Directory by entering directory.google.com in your web browser.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Quick tips to search the web like an expert - How to use Google

Tip 24:

Search for Specific Facts

When you're looking for hard facts, Google might be able to help. Google will always return a list of sites that match your specific query, but if you phrase your query correctly - and are searching for a fact that Google has pre-identified - you can get the precise information you need at the top of the search results page.

This includes fact-based information, such as birthdates, birthplaces, population, and so on. All you have to do is enter a query that states the fact you want to know. For example:

To find the population of San Francisco, enter population san francisco.

To find where Mark Twain was born, enter birthplace mark twain.

To find when President Bill Clinton was born, enter birthday bill clinton.

To find when Raymond Chandler died, enter die raymond chandler.

To find who is the president of Germany, enter president germany.

The answers to these questions are displayed at the top of your search results page. You get the precise answer to your question, according to the referenced website. Click the associated link to learn more from this source.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Quick tips to search the web like an expert - How to use Google

Tip 23:

Fine-Tune Your Search with Other Operators

The related: operator is just one of several operators you can use to fine-tune your Google search result. All these operators work the same way; enter the operator as part of your query, followed by the parameter for the operator directly after the colon (no spaces), like this: operator:parameter.

What search operators are available for your use?

Here's a short list:

Operator

Use

Usage

allinanchor:

Restricts search to words in the link text on web pages (with multiple keywords)

allinanchor:keyword1 keyword2

allintext:

Restricts search to the body text of web pages (with multiple keywords)

allintext:keyword1 keyword2

allintitle:

Restricts search to the titles only of web pages (with multiple keywords)

allintitle:keyword1 keyword2

allinurl:

Restricts search to web page addresses (with multiple keywords)

inurl:keyword1 keyword2

filetype:

Restricts search to files of a specified type

filetype:extension

inanchor:

Restricts search to words in the link text on web pages

inanchor:keyword

intext:

Restricts search to the body text of web pages

intext:keyword

intitle:

Restricts search to the titles only of web pages

intitle:keyword

inurl:

Restricts search to web page addresses

inurl:keyword

site:

Restricts search to a specific domain or website

site:domain

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Quick tips to search the web like an expert - How to use Google

Tip 22:

List Similar Pages

If you find a web page you really like, you can also use Google's related: operator to display pages that are in some way similar to the specified page.

For example, if you really like the articles at
InformIT, you can find similar pages by entering related:http://www.informit.com.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Quick tips to search the web like an expert - How to use Google

Tip 21:

Search for an Exact Phrase

When you're searching for an exact phrase, you won't get the best results simply by entering all the words in the phrase as your query. Google might return results including the phrase, but it will also return results that include all those words - but not necessarily in that exact order.

When you want to search for an exact phrase, you should enclose the entire phrase in quotation marks. This tells Google to search for the precise keywords in the prescribed order.

For example, if you're searching for Monty Python, you could enter monty python as your query, and you'd get acceptable results; the results will include pages that include both the words "monty" and "python." But these results will include not only pages about the British comedy troupe, but also pages about snakes named Monty, and guys named Monty who have snakes for pets, and any other pages where the words "monty" and "python" occur - anywhere in the page, even if they don't appear adjacent to one another.

To limit the results just to pages about the Monty Python troupe, you want to search for pages that include the two words in that precise order as a phrase. So you should enter the query "monty python" - making sure to surround the phrase with quotation marks. This way, if the word "monty" occurs at the top of a page and "python" occurs at the bottom, it won't be listed in the search results.