[EAS]Quality in Web Retrieval

pjk pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Fri May 11 02:16:08 EDT 2001

Subject:   Quality in Web Retrieval

Dear Colleagues -

Tutorials about how to find quality material on the Web are usually
received with as much enthusiasm as a comparative discussion of
fertilizers. With http://www.google.com and the youthful
just-in-time mentality of our students, much information retrieval
becomes a fast-food process with the expected dietary drawbacks.
Let me risk some comments about discrimination in Web retrieval,
because it's something that every curriculum should have in its
freshman year introduction to Engineering (many Schools now do),
with further affirmation and refinement during the ensuing years.

The billions of documents that litter the Web have done little to
advance the cause of serious retrieval, even though Google is a
very impressive sniffer. Sifting out scholarly information with
Google takes practice. What's easier _and_ develops that practice
is starting with concentrations of quality, those of a library. In
Engineering at Yale that means <http://www.library.yale.edu/eas/>.
The licensed electronic journals available there are part of a
hidden Web <http://www.yale.edu/engineering/eng-info/msg00724.html>
not included in google.com. The extensive links to the Web under
the low-key "Other Internet Resources" are the result of
professional choice.

At the very beginning of the Web, places I visited most often
with Mosaic were libraries. Cornell Engineering Library's ICE
<http://www.englib.cornell.edu/ice/> was one of the earliest
examples of an engineering Internet gateway by a university
library. Along the way I gave a few talks about such matters

On May 8th a group of six British universities, including the Univ.
of Edinburgh whose EEVL <http://www.eevl.ac.uk/> is another among
the oldest engineering Web gateways, launched a new educational
resource for the academic community, the Resource Discovery Network
Virtual Training Suite <http://www.vts.rdn.ac.uk/>. 

This is a set of self-study tutorials (see article at
<http://chronicle.com/free/2001/05/2001050801u.htm>) with the
delightfully anachronistic attribute of "a year of successful
testing" before release. Heck, that's longer than the whole
lifecycle of a lot of electronic products these days. My heart
warms to such testing diligence.

> The Virtual Training Suite is a set of online tutorials designed
> to help students, lecturers and researchers improve their Internet
> information skills. The tutorials offer self-directed learning,
> take around an hour each to complete, and include quizzes and
> interactive exercises to lighten the learning experience.
These tutorial resources deserve wide attention among
educators, for use in courses, projects, and informal tutorial
circumstances. Prior to this, the tutorial I often pointed
to for critical thinking about resources, one more journalistic
than specifically engineering oriented but still valuable, was <http://sosig.ac.uk/desire/internet-detective.html>.

These Web tutorials _are_ fertilizer, for the mind. May they help a
few things grow better.

[If your mail client does not provide live links, then go to an
archived version of this message
<http://www.yale.edu/engineering/eng-info/msg00854.html> where all
the links will be live.]

All best,  --Peter Kindlmann

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