I’ve spoken before about the need to teach students how to search, not just by typing keywords into Google, but by being able to validate the search results in terms of credibility. Reference extract is a new project seeking to do just that, provide credible search results by using librarians (of the human variety) to provide links to credible articles online.
Context, as well as credibility, is important in search. The example given in the project proposal involves an 8 year old asking for information about black holes. Google won’t be able to select contextually relevant information, but a librarian will because the librarian is aware of the needs of the user. This is obviously a simplified example but illustrates the point that semantics and meaning matter in search, and keywords aren’t a particularly useful means of figuring that out.
The project is only in a planning stage but I’m quite excited to see where it goes.
Here’s a link to the home page:
…and the project proposal:
The British Medical Journal published this article in December (2006), which may not seem like a long time ago in the traditional approach to academic publication but which in terms of the Internet is already old news. It asks, “Is a medical wikipedia the next step?”, a question I think is becoming more and more relevant as we see user-generated content proliferating in all spheres of our lives, but more and more frequently in the field of healthcare.
The author, Dean Giustini (librarian at the University of British Columbia Biomedical Branch), looks at the advantages of web 2.0 technologies or social software (e.g. RSS, blogs, wikis and podcasts) with particular reference to the creation of open content, improving access to information and the impact all of this has on medicine. We need to be asking ourselves how we can use these new technologies to better inform the way we teach, learn and communicate with our students and colleagues.
I think the final paragraph sums up my own opinion of the role of the Internet in influencing those of us who are creators and publishers of content:
“The web is a reflection of who we are as human beings – but it also reflects who we aspire to be. In that sense, Web 2.0 may be one of the most influential technologies in the history of publishing, as old proprietary notions of control and ownership fall away.”