SEQuRAmA Search Project

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I stumbled across this web-search aggregation project called SEQuRAmA being put together by Will Gilreath. In his own words the project “has the goal of more efficient search–search using other search engines but at a single point–a locus or nexus. The operation is query many a search engine, accumulate and aggregate the results.”


Even though I’m not sure Will is planning on releasing this, it’s still an interesting read, finding out how he’s approaching things and what his aims are.

I particularly liked this quote on his blog: “Seek and you shall accumulate, aggregate, and then find.” ūüôā

Edited 12/08/2014

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Discover Organize Share – A new blog

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I’ve created a new information based blog at¬†http://www.discoverorganizeshare.blogspot.co.uk/ . The new blog will focus on search tools, content creation, curation, aggregation and discovery ie more online information and less¬†library focus.

To tie in with this I’ve also set up another Twitter account @a_p_8¬†, which will focus on similar areas as the blog.

I’m avoiding the angle of content creation, curation, aggregation as a money making marketing tool and focusing on it as an information tool. I say this because so many of the articles I’m finding are purely focused on information = money, but if they still have an interesting information angle I’ll share them.

I’ve also set up a Google Play account (AP8), as I’ve created a few low key information based Android apps, which are on there. They are:

Library Jobs U.K. (an aggregated feed of UK based library jobs from a range of sources)

Surrey MIX (an aggregated feed of news, events, photos, videos from Surrey, UK)

Hot Poppi (a search experiment using Yahoo Pipes and social bookmarking services)

I’ll still share techy ideas on this blog, but I’ll also cross-post them on Discover, Organize, Share too.

 

Popular Bookmarks Yahoo Pipes Search Experiment #MashLib

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A while ago I experimented with Yahoo Pipes to put together a search tool that aggregates¬†links¬†everyone has saved to social bookmarking sites Digg, Pinboard and Delicious and returns the most popular recent sites based on a simple keyword search. NB: I’m not talking about only the bookmarks I’ve saved, but all bookmarks saved by the communities on these sites.

So, if you enter the phrase “technology” you might get the following results list:

http://www.nytimes.com [13]

http://www.theatlantic.com [13]

http://www.theverge.com [9]

http://www.youtube.com [7]

…etc

The results are displayed in popularity order and the number in square brackets indicates the number of times anyone has bookmarked the site recently on Digg, Delicious or Pinboard. Each of the sites that appear in the results list also act as a clickable link to that site.

As it’s been created in Yahoo Pipes you can also get a variety of useful data formats as output, including RSS, JSON and PHP.

I decided to put it together as a way of discovering new sites, based upon sites other people had recently found useful. It’s doesn’t currently provide a comprehensive list of sites, but it does offer an alternative way of discovering sites that I might not have been returned by¬†big name¬†search engines.

It’s something I’d like to develop, but had forgotten about it until @AgentK23 mentioned something¬†to me recently about collaborative bookmarking.

How I’d like to develop it…

  • Include as many¬†social bookmarking sites as possible as part of the aggregation process to improve the¬†comprehensiveness of the search results. The 3 mentioned are ones that I could easily generate a hackable and useful search/result query url for. For example, I couldn’t do anything useful with Diigo bookmarks, as it limits the results of community RSS feeds to 20 items (Edit: See positive update at foot of blog post). I’d be happy to receive¬†suggestions about other social bookmarking sites I could tap into¬†in this way.
  • The clickable links to the websites mentioned in the search results currently just go to the home page of those sites, but I’d like to work out a way to go directly to relevant articles on the site instead. Because different websites have different search query structures¬†I couldn’t turn the links into¬†ones that just focus on the search keyword that had been entered. For example, the New York Times link for the “technology” search mentioned earlier goes to www.nytimes.com , not http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch/#/technology
  • Yahoo Pipes is a useful tool to try out ideas like this, but I’m still not sure about its reliability.¬†So, I should think about developing this without relying on Yahoo Pipes.

Here’s the link to it if you want to try it out. Any feedback would be appreciated… and remember, it’s just an experiment and not a commercial¬†product.

As most search tools have a daft name I thought I’d call it “DiPiDel POP!” – An abbreviation of Digg, Pinboard, Delicious Popular. ūüôā

Update:¬†Thanks to¬†Marjolein Hoekstra¬†who followed up on this post and got in touch with Diigo about my issue. They have now extended the RSS feed to 100 items, which is very responsive of them and great news too, as I can now use the site as an aggregation source. As well as including Diigo in the aggregation process, I’ve also now included Blogmarks and Bibsonomy. Thanks to Marjolein for suggesting them too.

NewsNow News search engine

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I wanted to¬†give a mention to one of my favourite news search engines that I’ve been using for some time now – NewsNow.co.uk.¬†It’s¬†straightforward to use – type your¬†search into a box and it gives you a list of news items from across the world matching that search.

Reasons why I find it so useful include:

  • It’s got a wide resource coverage¬†and picks up more local and international news than other news search engines I’ve tried.
  • It doesn’t focus on¬†high ranking news stories only.
  • Each news item appears with a little flag for the country of origin against it, so I know which part of the world the article is focused on.
  • You can choose to hide results from specific publications – this is useful to me as I’m generally focusing on UK related news and I hide a lot of international publications. There is however a limit to the number of publications you can hide.
  • The search results will indicate if any results are hidden and the number of results hidden.
  • If you set up an account it will remember which publications you’ve asked it to hide.
  • If you set up an account you can save your favourite searches.
  • It’s got a decent mobile version of the site too.
  • It’s quick – a few other news search engines I’ve tried have been incredibly slow at retrieving results.

The only area it falls down on (for my use) is lack of sharing options of results, including the fact that the search results aren’t available as RSS feeds. However if you’ve got a sharing widget on your internet browser or you have a smart phone with sharing options most of the sharing issues can be overcome apart from the¬†results RSS feed.

Library Ebook Trends on Google

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When discussing ebook use in libraries I was reminded by @ShedSue of Google Trends. This service allows you to enter keywords/search terms and¬†presents you¬†with statistics about how commonly those keywords are used in Google searches. Sue had already presented some stats on ebooks using it, but I put together a rough report of keywords that people might use when looking for ebooks in the UK, focusing on “ebooks”; “downloaded ebooks”; “free ebooks”; “library ebooks” searches. I really wanted to see how¬†commonly the phrase “library ebooks” featured ie how often people searched for that phrase compared to the others – it didn’t do very well. In fact it came a distant last to all of the other keyword searches.

The Google Trends report for each of the keyword searches¬†also provided a list of related keywords that people searched for as well as that keyword. eg When people searched for “ebooks” they also searched for the following:

  • ebooks free
  • ebooks download
  • ebook
  • ebooks kindle
  • kindle
  • ebooks for free
  • free books
  • amazon ebooks
  • ebooks uk
  • free ebook

Alongside these related keywords the report also featured “Rising searches” ie those related keyword searches that were increasing in popularity. eg For “ebooks” they were:

  • amazon ebooks
  • ebooks kindle
  • kindle
  • kindle ebooks free
  • ebooks for free
  • ebooks uk
  • pdf ebooks
  • ebooks download
  • ebook
  • free books

In all of the related keyword¬†and rising search results¬†for¬†¬†“ebooks”; “downloaded ebooks” and “free ebooks”, the thing that struck me the most was that the keyword “library” didn’t appear once.¬†“free”¬†did, plenty of times. – but no sign of “library”.

Also, even though related and rising search results from the “library ebooks” search¬†retrieved phrases containing¬†the word “library” in them,¬†there were still plenty of references to other non-library searches that highlighted people were also searching for similar keywords/phrases used in the other 3 searches. However,¬†when searching in the other 3 ways (“ebooks”; “downloaded ebooks” and “free ebooks”)¬†people¬†didn’t¬†automatically¬†consider searching for the phrase “library ebooks”.

So, it appears¬†that even though people in the UK are looking for ebooks via the internet, they’re not really considering libraries as a place to find them. If they were wouldn’t we¬†see “library ebooks” appearing in the related keyword search lists?

If we are to develop ebook services in UK libraries¬†shouldn’t¬†we be aiming to push “library ebooks” higher up those related keyword¬†search lists? The higher it is, the¬†more likely our ebook library services will feature¬†in Google search results and the more we will draw people to our library websites and to the many other library services¬†we have on offer alongside our ebook services.

The report I pulled together can be found here.

Here’s a live link to the Google Trends page these searches generated.

Disclaimer: These are just initial thoughts off the top of my head and any further input on this would be appreciated.

Emphasising Library Resources in Search

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I’ve just been looking at a presentation Stephen Abram put together for Edmonton Public Libraries in Canada. In it he states that 72% of library users trust library content more than Google content, but 81% still use Google.

I wonder if this 81% still use Google because they open up their internet browser and Google is there, ready and waiting for them?

Maybe if they thought about it they’d go elsewhere to do their searching? Maybe they’d go to a specialist search engine for their particular subject need eg. Healia¬†(health), Scitopia (science and technology) if their browser directed them there.

If they are going to Google by default, or because their browser directs them there,¬†and the majority of library users have more faith in the information libraries can provide them, shouldn’t we be trying to make this easier for them?

Most libraries are in a good position to do this if they provide their users with computers on site that allow access to the internet.

Some ideas

How about putting a start page on your computers that contains an obvious internet search function. Not a tiddly little widget, stuck in the corner somewhere, but a big box that clearly shows it’s for searching the internet.

Why not make this search box emphasise library resources your library service provides, as well as information held elsewhere on the internet?

Why not provide some weighting to sites outside your resources? eg. sites you’ve bookmarked on delicious.com that are a really useful resources in a specific subject area. Indicate that your library service recommends these resources and tell them why. Don’t make your users trawl through millions of webpages looking for a resource¬†you already know exists. You can give users the opportunity to trawl through those millions of web pages, if they really want to, if they really think they’re missing out on something by not searching Google, but try to emphasise your library service recommendations.

If they’re looking for a book via this search method,¬†offer them the book in your library catalogue as the first result, rather than pointing them straight to the Amazon catalogue. Or, if¬†you do offer them the book to buy from Amazon, create¬†it as an affiliate link from your library authority – that way you can generate some income for yourself.