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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Information Trapping, Real-Time research on the Web, book review

This excellent book by Tara Calishain is worth every penny. She is the autor of ResearchBuzz, a website with news about search engines, databases and other information collections.

When I walked in to this book I remembered her name from other excellent books so I had a look inside. Immediately I was seized by her examples of how you could use information trapping. In my case I just started a blog about depression and electroconvulsive therapy and related psychiatric subjects. I was wondering how to keep up with all the information on the web. For my job as a psychiatrist, teacher and researcher keeping up with all the new articles, websites, scientific papers is an every day struggle. Since I am very interested in getting as much information with the least effort for my work and now my blog this book seemed to me an excellent introduction in how to use the computer to gain these goals.
After the first introductory chapter about information trapping the book starts of with three other important chapters in which RSS feeds, page monitors and e-mail alerts are explained and how they can help you finding information in different ways.

These chapters are full of examples with their advantages and disadvantages. After explaining how you can find RSS feeds and which websites are of help she continues in explaining the two different types of feeds and more important which feed to use and when. This chapter ends with a description of the most important feed readers and their characteristics.

The next chapter about page monitors was new to me. The most important web based and client based page monitors are described including their costs. Chapter 4 is about e-mail alerts and useful e-mail alert services.
The next chapter is about building queries. This surprised me since I already tried all the services she explained before this chapter. Building a good query is usually the starting point after which you can decide to gather the result by RSS feed or e-mail alert. She explains this order of chapters by pointing out that you first need to know the tools of the information trapper's toolbox before you learn what to trap, where to trap it and when. To me that was a little confusing, already started working. Maybe in the next book a note in the first chapter about this order of chapters. The chapter about building queries is again very well written with important tips and tricks as can be expected from this authority on search engines and their use. Made me curious about her book about search engines.
Chapter 6 is an important chapter about "Who's linking to your site". Information about who's linking to your blog or website is internal information, external information is anything else. Knowing who is linking to your blog can enhance your content and services. Knowing what people think of your website can improve your writing and if know who is linking you can approach sites like these and ask them to link to your blog as well.This chapter discusses Google and Yahoo for finding out which inbound links are there to your blog. Technorati and the new kid Icerocket are discussed as well.
Chapter 7 is the core chapter of this book, it is also the largest chapter in comparison with the other chapters.It is all about trapping information from external sources, mainly search engines. This chapter desribes a lot of different kind of search engines.General search engines, news search engines, blog search engines, commercial search engines, trapping government information, monitoring international sites and some more. All engines are descrbed with how to build your query for that typical search engine , trapping information and possibilities. Kebberfegg is a special kind of power search tool, delivers a lot of information, is not yet very user friendly. It is developed by Researchbuzz. Chapter 8 is about trapping podcastst, video and images. Chapter 9 discloses the use of tags and conversations. A lot of information about flickr, and others. Chapter 10 addresses the issue of organizing all the information that is filling your inbox. This is an excellent howto for the use of Gmail. Chapter 11 has two examples in two case studies as well as how to get rid of information if it's not to your liking.Chapter 12 is a very useful chapter about organizing all the information. Organizing the information on a single computer with google or yahoo desktop. The organization tools in browsers and online organizing options. Some of the software is not vailable anymore but using the keywords bookmark managers or information organizers in Google or Yahoo will keep you up to date with the newest possibilities in this field. The last chapter is about publishing your information.

In conclusion it's a very good book, sometimes overwhelming with all the possibilities that are mentioned but on the other hand a lot of suggestions to try and see what fits your needs. So far the best book written about this subject. I tried to find the author on internet but she was hard to find. Finally after reading her book and using her advice a could finally trap a picture of her. I thought someone so famous as author who is hard to find on the internet besides her books, probably doesn't want to be found. So buy the book and go search for yourself!

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