Friday, February 5, 2016

Teaching beginners how to search--lessons for teachers


Next time I won’t react with such a blank stare. 

I was surprised when a student in my Internet Search Skills class at the public library asked a question 30 seconds into my class:

 “Umm… when you say that the presentation is linked off your home page… I need to know… What’s a home page?”

Now my home page isn’t exactly hard to find. It’s the first Google result for  [ Dan Russell ].  A click takes you right there.  

But in the context of a “how to use Google better” class, it was surprising to find a student that didn’t have any idea what a personal home page was. How was it possible to live in the heart of Silicon Valley and NEVER hear about a “home page”? 

Things were about to get more complicated. 

I found 4 students who didn’t know you needed to have spaces between the query terms (e.g., [ DanRussellGoogle ] vs. [ Dan Russell Google] ). I found students who couldn’t accurately click on a query box and enter the search.. and I simultaneously found students who have been using advanced operators in their searches.  

Hmmm.  This was going to be a challenge.  

I was teaching a class of twenty students how to do basic internet search.  My class is offered regularly at the Santa Clara public library, and attracts students with a wide range of search skills.  I’ve taught this class about 25 times, each time with a broad cross-section of students.  I’ve had classes of kids (ages 7 to 17), classes of older adults (ages 55 to infinity), and mixed classes with both kids, parents and older learners.  In other settings, I’ve also taught advanced search skills classes to school teachers, librarians and even rocket scientists at NASA Ames. 

But this class of real beginners crystallized my thoughts about teaching search skills.  Here are some things to keep in mind as you think about teaching search and basic information skills for the average student / user.


Screen layout and behavior is really complicated to someone just learning.  To searchers without a lot of practice looking at web screen layouts, even something as simple as the default Google home page STILL has too many places to look.  When you’re teaching beginners, you really have to show them where everything is and what those things are called.  They won’t remember the names, but for the duration of the class, you can direct attention to specific places on the screen. 

As one example of complexity, a student was wondering why there are three places to enter a query (toolbar, chrome search and address bar).  I pointed out that they’re really different.  “But they’re not,” he protested, “when I type my search into any of them, they all do a search!”  And he’s right.  Except when it doesn’t work.  An entry like [ sofa ] in the address bar does a perfectly fine search.  But an entry like [ whitehouse ] might not—it can take you to whitehouse.gov landing page if it autocompletes. 

My favorite example is when a student entered “blackberry” into the Address bar (in IE) and was taken to Blackberry.com, the makers of a particular brand of smartphone.  “Why did it do that?” she cried, “I just wanted more information about pies!”

Her previous query had been [ blueberry pie ] (also in the address bar, which works just fine in IE).  When she entered “blackberry” into the Address field, the behavior was utterly different, and she didn’t know why. 

Yes, she didn’t understand the difference between the Address bar and the chrome search box.  Question is, should she have to? 

As you teach, take the time to give orientation.  


Even managing the typing is hard for some.  We don’t think about this much, but older folks and people who haven’t used computers much find entering text to be incredibly tricky.  They don’t know about the subtleties of where to click, when to press-and-hold the mouse, or even how to select a whole word.  And once an input zone is selected, they’ll accidentally click the mouse one more time, or move the input focus without even knowing they did something wrong. 

For my true beginner classes, just teaching the mechanics of how to enter search terms is a major challenge.  As a teacher, it takes a huge amount of patience to slow down enough to guide the hand, coordinating the arm, wrist and finger motions—but it’s absolutely necessary.  If the student can’t select and enter their search, they can’t do anything.  

For students having these problems, you need to slow down and manually show them how to move, how to click. 



Basic find (control-F) isn’t widely known.  I ask every class I teach if they know how to locate (or find) a specific word on the page.  I illustrate with an example.  I’ll go to a random page (say, whitehouse.gov) and then spot a word that appears on the page (but not in caps).  Suppose it’s the word “energy.”  Then I’ll ask  “can anyone find if the word ‘energy’ appears on this page?”  I go through this elaborate process to avoid cuing them with words like “find.”  It usually take a minute or so before someone finds the word.  I then ask that person how they did it—usually they say “I used control-F.”  That’s when I ask how many people know this trick?  (Or using the edit menu to do a find.) 

Consistently, I’ve been finding that right around 25% of the class knows this basic skill.   More generally, when I ask this question in larger groups, it drops to 10%.  Somewhat to my surprise, I also find that even when I teach technically advanced audiences, not everyone knows this.  Almost all librarians (skilled searchers) know this—but surprisingly, it seems to be around 85% know this, which continually baffles me. 

For the love of Pete, teach EVERY class about Control-F / CMD-F!  


Scoping a search to focus on the topic of interest isn’t a common skill.  I always ask my class to do some searches of their own—things that they really want to look up.  As the class works away on this, I go from person-to-person and talk with them about what they’re trying to do.  I want to understand their intent (in their own words) and see what they’re doing. 

Some times a student will say “I want to learn about the Civil War.”  And then do a query like [ Gettysburg ].  That’s a great search to find out about that particular battle or the famous oration, but not a good search for general Civil War information.  For beginners, this isn’t a crazy approach—it’s a way to get a start on a topic when they don't know what else to ask. The problem is that they’ll get stuck in the corner of the topic they already know, and not learn about the rest of the topic.  

Contrariwise, a student might start that same search with [ Civil War ], which is a good beginning, but then they need to figure out how to reduce the scope of the search.  That’s a problem with such a huge topic—how to focus in on the part (or parts) you really want.

When you think about it, a good part of expertise in learning about a topic is coming to understand what the scale and scope really is.  And doing a search on a topic, especially for a beginner, a wildly divergent thing to do. 

Talk about scoping a search explicitly.  Not everyone knows... 


Choosing query terms is not an obvious skill.   It’s striking to talk with a student about what they’re trying to discover and hear the mismatch between what they’re thinking about, and what they actually type in for search.  For those of us who have used search engines for years, it’s so obvious as to be transparent.  But for someone who’s new to using a search engine the question is often “how do I start my search?” 

“I just want to find a cheap hotel for my vacation.”  He’d entered [ cheap hotel ] as the search query, and was puzzled to not see any mentions of hotels in Chicago, where he was planning on travelling.  I suggested he add the name of his destination, and all was well. Although he was still surprised why Google didn’t understand that  he was interested in Chicago.  “I’ve been looking for all kinds of things to do in Chicago—didn’t it see me doing all of that?” 

This kind of dropping of terms implies that some beginning users see the search process as a kind of conversation rather than as a stateless transaction. 

Have a unit just on "query term selection."  



 “Google” as a concept is often confused with “the internet” or with “the browser.”  We see this kind of misconception all the time in the complaints Google gets in the mail.   (“Why can’t you fix my phone bill?” a dissatisfied user will ask, not realizing that we’re not AT&T, we’re just the search engine that got you there.) 

But people often confuse the tool with the embedding ideas.  When I worked at IBM we’d constantly get complaints from people about why they kept getting viruses on their laptops.  Of course, that’s not IBM’s issue—but to the end-user it doesn’t matter—IBM is the logo they see on the laptop and hence who they know to contact (of course, it’s not Lenovo, but that was then).  When you think about it, who SHOULD own the virus problem? 

In a similar vein, Google is the home page for many people—it’s the first logo they see and recognize on a web page, so the conflation of “the internet” or “the browser” with Google is natural. 

Of course this raises Cain with a user’s idea of how things work when they learn that you don’t need a Google email account to use Google services, or when they get an instruction to close their browser, but the browser isn’t on a Google page.  (“How can I close the browser?  It’s not showing me a Google logo because I’m looking at another website.”  It sounds incoherent, I know—but this is the way I hear many people reasoning.) 


It’s difficult to learn a coherent model of how a search engine works.  When you use something, it’s good if you can have a coherent model of what it is and what it does when given certain inputs.  Unfortunately, Google behaves wildly differently when you give it slightly different, sometimes imperceptibly different queries. [ hunt ] vs. [ hunting ] are pretty different; but something like [ Ron ] vs. [ Ronnie ] are sometimes bafflingly different to beginners.  For users with some experience, the difference is clear.  But when a beginning user does a search and then doesn’t  find one of the terms on the page, it’s a mystifying moment. 


I don’t mean to paint a dire picture here.  For the most part, students are incredibly happy with Google—they find things they could only imagine in their dreams. 

At the same time, for a portion of the population (probably the vast non-technical majority), using a search engine isn’t like falling off a log; it’s a highly technical skill that’s full of mysteries and not a small amount of worry. 

What’s perhaps most worrisome is that there’s no good way for beginners to climb up the learning curve.  Of course, they could look for online materials and tutorials, but these people are beginners at search, it’s not the first (or last) thing they’d consider. 

Of course, they could take my class.  And while I always have a full class (and always with a waiting list), just my teaching doesn’t scale.  (Which is why I offer the scalable version of my classes at PowerSearchingWithGoogle.com -- that's always open and available for free.) 

We really need to figure a way to get people over the hump of first time use to become reasonably good, reasonably proactive searchers.  Once they can search for their own help materials, we’ll have a self-sustaining population of new users.  We just need to figure out a good way to get them over the initial hurdle of not-knowing. 








Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Search Challenge (2/3/16): Mysteries at universities


As I travel around... 

... I often visit different universities to give talks (often about SearchResearch), to visit with faculty members, or to teach classes.  It's a part of my job that I really enjoy--I love teaching, and I'm lucky to have a job that lets me do this fairly often. 

However, as I travel around, I often spot various mysteries at these universities that beg for an explanation.  Often I find these things while on my run through campus, so I'm usually alone, without a local guide to tell me what these strange things might be.  

Can you help me identify these mysteries? 

The Challenges this week are pretty straightforward, but might require a bit of sleuthing: 


1.  What IS this strange animal perched on the edge of the building?  And what's the story that led to it being installed on a university campus?  (Yes, you could call it a gargoyle, but can you be more specific than that?)  






2.  What's this odd pattern of bricks over the window?  Why is it there?  





3.  What's this? Where is it? And how long has it been there??   



The Challenge here is to go from the image to the answer.  Can you do it?  Everything you need is out there on the web. 

Tell us HOW you found the answers! 

Search on! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

PowerSearchingWithGoogle MOOC restarting on Feb 8th, 2016!


I'm happy to say... 

.... that we're re-opening the PowerSearchingWithGoogle.com MOOC.  As you know, this is the online course that covers a lot of basic search skills (such as advanced operators) and a bit of intermediate skills (such as how to evaluate the quality / credibility of a resource you find online).  

The newest incarnation of the course starts on Feb 8th and runs for two weeks.  

After that, I'll be running it every two weeks until the middle of June.  (Between you and me, my hope is to get at least 100K people to register for the course.  I'd really like to change the way people search online!) 

In any case, please let your friends (especially teacher and librarian friends) know about the course. 

The course is free to anyone who wants to take it.  


Register now and be a better SearchResearcher in just two short weeks!  

I'll look for you in the course.  

Promo Video 




Sample Video from the course. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Answer: Questions you should know the answer to


None of these are especially tough... 

... but they're all small things that you'd think you would have learned along the way.  But somehow, there's no course to take in this.    

1.  You're driving a rental car and driving into the gas station. How can you tell (without getting out of the car) on which side the gas cap is on?  Is it on the left or the right?  (It's really annoying to have to get out of the car, walk around, and discover it.)  
The answer is obvious, once you know.  But I had to look it up.  Here was my query. 




Interestingly, this also led me to a Snopes.com article asking if the gas cap side was indicated by which side the pump handle on the ICON was on.  I hadn't thought of that.  But no, it's the triangle that points to the correct side.  

(BTW, what's the correct term for that part of the car where the gas cap is located?  What's it called?  By doing the query [ gas cap diagram ] I ended up finding out that the gas cap is on the "fuel filler hose" that leads to the fuel tank. Another term I didn't know!)  

2. What was the original design for Mount Rushmore?  Was it what we see today? How different is the original design?  
 My query:  [ Mount Rushmore original design ] led to a number of sites, all of which pointed out that the original design was as shown in the photograph below.  Of course, it was also going to be at a different location (at the "Needles," not far away), and Jefferson was originally supposed to be at Washington's left, until they found that the rock there wasn't suited for sculpting.  

The original design had presidents shown to their waist. But you stop when you run out of funding, as the project did in 1939. Photo from Library of Congress


3. How do you know which is the "right" side of a towel? (Yes, there's a right side and a wrong side.  Have you been doing it wrong all these years?)  

Yeah, who knew?  But my query was [ towel right wrong side ], which found many articles telling me that side with the long loops (and therefore more surface area) is the side meant for drying.  The side with the short loops is meant for everything else (maybe sitting on the beach).  As with many things like this--use the side you like...  Enjoy.  


4. People keep saying things, but I don't know what they mean!  What does “one fell swoop mean”
 Again, the search is easy, but finding the answer at PhraseFinder tells me that it means "a sudden action" and comes from Shakespeare's play Macbeth.  The original use was in this big of dialog: 

MACDUFF: (on hearing that his family and servants have all been killed)

     All my pretty ones?
     Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
     What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
    At one fell swoop?

The "swoop" is when a raptor (such as the "kite" mentioned in line 2) makes a sudden, rapid descent from on high, usually called a "stoop" today, the stoop is the way raptors stun and kill their prey.  "Fell" as an adjective here just means "evil" or "fierce."  Today, this phrase has come to mean "a sudden stroke, action, or attack."  

5. While we're on this topic, what does "heavens to murgatroyd" mean?  And who says this anyway?  
 Our friends at PhraseFinder have a story for this too.  They claim it was first said by Bert Lahr (an actor best known as the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz movie) in the 1944 film Meet the People. Dick Powell and Lucille Ball star in this WWII-era movie. Ball plays a popular but stuck-up Broadway star who leaves the bright lights to become a welder in a shipyard. Here she meets and falls in love with coworker Powell. This being a wartime musical, the plotline is periodically abandoned for the guest-star turns of the likes of Virginia O'Brien, Bert Lahr, Spike Jones and His City Slickers, Vaughn Monroe, and Mata and Hari.

I tried, but wasn't able to find the script.  So we'll keep looking for that in the background.  But it seems plausible.  

It was, as Regular Reader Jon points out, popularized by the 1959 cartoon character Snagglepuss, a pink mountain lion with grand aspirations to be an actor. 




6. In the story of David and Goliath, David kills the giant with a single stone from his sling.  Is this really possible?  What kind of a slingshot could do that? 
A simple query:  [ David sling ] or [ David slingshot ] leads to a wealth of information about the "traditional sling" (as opposed to the surgical tube version shown in the illustration last week).  A traditional sling is just a length of twine (or leather) with a small pocket into which you can place a stone or small projectile.  

The sling is simple to make and yet much more powerful than you'd think.  When I was in high school I read a very interesting article in Scientific American on "The Sling as a Weapon"(1973).  Being a teen, I made one and proceeded to test it out.  I chose a smooth stone about 1 inch (2 cm) in diameter, whirled it around my head a couple of times and let it fly.  The stone hit the side of our wood-sided garage, and went THROUGH the wall! 
Fascinated, I quickly found that I could easily put such a stone through 1/4 inch plywood at 20 paces.  (I quickly stopped testing in my backyard because I realized a missed shot could easily break windows and potentially really hurt someone.) I ended up flinging stone out into the ocean, and got them going fast and far enough that I'd often lose sight of them before they hit the water.  
One of the best sources I found is Slinging.org, which has an extensive list of publications about slings and their use.  
While there is a great debate about whether or not the stone actually killed Goliath by striking him in the forehead (wasn't he wearing a helmet?),  there's no doubt that sling could seriously injure, and quite possibly kill someone.  As found in Eric Skov's article on slinging, a lead bullet flung by a sling could easily penetrate the skull.  

Search Lessons

The real lesson here is obvious: 
1.  Look up stuff that's interesting / unknown / unclear.  Learn to recognize the small annoyance that you can re-frame as a small research question. In my case, the hassle of getting out and looking for the darn gas cap was annoying enough to make me wonder "Has anyone else had this problem?"  Hence my query above.  And hence all of these queries today.  None of them are difficult, so it really shows how much great content is available, if only you go and look for it! 



Teachers: 
This should be obvious, but making a sling is NOT something you want your classes to do.  It could very quickly get out of hand!  Literally.  
On the other hand, this topic of "looking up things that seem obvious" is a great activity to get students introduced to the idea of doing SearchResearch.  
Some rewarding things to do are (a) look up the definitions for words that you're not really certain of; for instance peruse or tangential or affect vs. effect.  You can also do a few other things to check out the commonplace and everyday:  Why are footballs sometimes called "pig skins"? Or how are baseballs really made?  


Search on! 


 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Learning to love the moment when you realize you don't know...

Every so often... 
something happens to make me worry that I missed something really big in my education. That happened again earlier this week. It shot a cold, sharp spike down my spine.
It started innocently enough with a radio story on NPR about children’s toys, and how adults are continually increasing the amount of structured-by-adults playtime. I was just driving to work, listening to the story and enjoying myself.
That was all fine. But then the interviewer starting talking with social psychologists about “executive functions” and “self regulation” and how well-known tests could measure the efficacy of task and attention management in schoolroom settings. I understood the terms well enough, but as the learned experts kept talking, I realized that I didn’t know this area of psych very well at all. Had it changed all that much since I studied it? It was abundantly clear that there was an established set of knowledge about how people manage themselves, their tasks and their focus of attention… and I didn’t know all that much about their world views on this. I suddenly felt a bit like a New Guinea highlander dropped into Times Square — all the words made sense, but I didn’t really know the landscape, the people or the buildings — it was all consistent and sensible, just slightly foreign.
At that moment in the back of your mind you begin to panic just the tiniest bit; what do I not know, and how long have I not known it? A minor birdsong of doubt starts singing annoyingly.
I’ve done professional research in this area! How could I NOT know this literature?
That’s part of the problem: it’s a body of work, a “literature” that refers to itself, is contained within its conferences and scholarly papers. Knowing that is also part of the fun (and cause of panicky moments) in research studies. If it’s not something you continually monitor, it will change and grow larger and richer while you’re not looking.
I no longer am stressed by the notion that there is a literature about executive functioning. Once I started reading, I also started recognizing names, concepts, universities, and even a paper or two on the topics that I could mentally link with.
But there it was… just a few, bald, slightly embarrassing moments when I suddenly felt a bit like a fraud, as though all my training and background reading had failed me.
Ah, but you’ve got to love moments like this, when you suddenly realize that the world is bigger, broader and much more interesting than you might have believed. And this is the time and point to start to do a search to learn something new. We live in a search-enabled world where you can self-educate on a moment’s notice.
When I watch my kids struggling to learn something new, I see that the natural tendency is to shy away from the learning moments. Face it — learning is hard, painful and makes you feel dumb. You’ve got to believe that the time and effort invested in the abrasive parts of the learning process will pay off in the end. It’s absolutely essential that you know that fact, recognize feeling that way, and can recognize those moments of learning. When you feel dumb, awkward and slow is the way you know you’re learning. But you’ve got to believe that working through it can and will lead you to proficiency.
It’s counterintuitive. And it might even be slightly pathological, but if you’re at all curious, you’ve learned to recognize the struggle and pain as a bona fide “good thing.” We’ve converted that pain from an irritant into a friend. And that’s probably the hardest lesson of all. Learning that the moment of discomfort leads to finding out something new about the world, and growing as a consequence.
And that moment, my friends, is when I start to search... 



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Search Challenge (1/27/16): Questions you should know the answer to...

A few questions to keep you searching for a bit... 


... questions that seem straightforward enough, but ones to which you might not know the answers.  


1.  You're driving a rental car and driving into the gas station. How can you tell (without getting out of the car) on which side the gas cap is on?  Is it on the left or the right?  (It's really annoying to have to get out of the car, walk around, and discover it.)  

2. What was the original design for Mount Rushmore?  Was it what we see today? How different is the original design?  

3. How do you know which is the "right" side of a towel? (Yes, there's a right side and a wrong side.  Have you been doing it wrong all these years?)  

4. People keep saying things, but I don't know what they mean!  What does “one fell swoop mean”? 
5. While we're on this topic, what does "heavens to murgatroyd" mean?  And who says this anyway?  

6. In the story of David and Goliath, David kills the giant with a single stone from his sling.  Is this really possible?  What kind of a slingshot could do that? 

These are especially difficult research questions (we'll have more of those soon enough), but they're examples of things that we see, hear-about, or come-across every day, and yet we don't really know quite what's going on here.  This is one of the great features of having a search-engine on your phone--you can just ask and find out the answers quickly.  

Search on!  



Monday, January 25, 2016

Answer: Native American Languages in Arizona


Turns out they're the Tohono O'odham people... 



Yes, I know I asked about the Papago, but remember this:  Things Change Over Time.  

This is one of those things you have to remember, especially when looking for cultural identities or political bodies--states come and go, and cultures often get named one thing at one time (usually by whatever group is in power at the moment) and then renamed to something else later.  In many parts of the world, Native peoples have been reclaiming their names as they regain power.  This is what's going on with the people previously known as the Papago.    

Recall our questions from last week:  



1.  When I learned about the Papago tribe, I naturally assumed they were an Arizona tribe.  But is that really true? Where are they located?  Where are their historic tribal lands? 

I started this quest with the obvious query: 


     [ Papago ] 

and quickly learned from the Wikipedia page that what I grew up knowing as the Papago tribe has been renamed as the Tohono O’odham (pronounced TOHN-oh AUTH-um) people. 

In checking the reference links at the bottom of the article, I found a link to the official Tohono O'odham nation website.  

On that site, they describe their traditional lands as "...an enormous area of land in the southwest, extending South to Sonora, Mexico, north to Central Arizona (just north of Phoenix, Arizona), west to the Gulf of California, and east to the San Pedro River."

That cuts across parts of northern Mexico, Arizona, and California.  But, oddly, my search for: 

     [ Tohono O'odham map ] 

found several maps, many of which have this very suspicious, very straight boundary that magically aligns with the edge of the US/Mexico border.  



My search also found this really interesting map from Al-Jazeera:

From Al-Jazerah article "US-Mexico border wreaks havoc..." (May 25, 2014. Kate Kilpatrick)
That looks more like a regional homeland--no straight lines.  The political boundaries certainly aren't obvious is this side-by-side comparison of satellite views (from Google Earth, without boundaries, and with the roads and political boundaries overlay). 

Google Earth view of the traditional Tohono O'odham tribal lands,
with and without political boundaries. The white diagonal line is the border
between the US and Mexico, with Arizona above and Sonora below
(Click through to see the full resolution side-by-side image.)  

However, when you zoom in enough, the border now looks like this:  


This straight line is the artificial boundary that split the Tohono O'odham nation roughly in two.  It was one of the results of the Gadsden Purchase of the territory from Mexico in 1854 that redrew the border right through O’odham territory.  


2.  Who is John P. Harrington, and what relationship does he have to the Papago?  What is he best known for?  

Another quick search: 

     [ John P. Harrington ] 

leads to a wealth of resources.  I could write an entire article about this fairly remarkable person, but the relevant resources here are the Wikipedia article, which summarizes him as "John Peabody Harrington (April 29, 1884 – October 21, 1961), an American linguist and ethnologist and a specialist in the native peoples of California. Harrington is noted for the massive volume of his documentary output, most of which has remained unpublished: the shelf space in the National Anthropological Archives dedicated to his work spans nearly seven hundred feet."  

One of the first links in the SERP leads to the Smithsonian Collection of Harrington's notes (the National Anthropological Archives are at the Smithsonian).  The J. P. Harrington Collection of linguistic and cultural materials is one of the most remarkable holdings , including documentation on over 130 languages, many of which are now endangered or no longer actively spoken.

The next obvious search: 

     [ Harrington Tohono O'odham ]   

(It's worth pointing out that the query [ Harrington Papago] works just as well). 

This leads to at entry at the Smithsonian about his research among the Papago/Tohono O'odham.  This entry describes his trip in the spring of 1930, with assistant Henry Cervantes and Joe Moore as his auto mechanic, they began a trip following the route of the Anza expedition of 1775 -1776. They left from Salinas, California, going by way of Yuma, Tubac, and Nogales, Arizona, into to Sonora, Mexico. Harrington later reported that they had covered 872 miles of desert driving.

In the course of this placename trip, Harrington minutely described each day's route and often illustrated it with a roughly sketched map. Included in the itinerary were stops at Casitas, Querobabi, Chupisonora, Opodepi, Camou, and Imuris--small towns along the way.  
Regular Reader Jon (the Unknown) found a wonderful obituary of Harrington.  It includes such tidbits as "He never possessed a telephone at his home, and only a very few intimate friends knew his personal address. If he thought it were becoming too well known, he changed it..."  And "He was one of the first anthropologists to realize the importance of coordinating other scientific disciplines with ethnology. He was deeply interested in the viewpoints of the various Indian tribes on natural history, and the majority of his field notes contain detailed sections on ethnogeography, ethnobotany, ethnozoology, ethnoconchology and the like. The “Ethnobotany of the Tewa Indians” (1916), a product of the 1910 field work, is a forgotten classic, far ahead of its time in its attention to native systems of classification."

What an interesting, interesting guy.  



3.  In last week's Challenge we learned about the Pacifica statue.  Can you find a connection between the original Pacifica statue and the Papago?  


As I read the previous web page, I just HAPPENED to notice that "...At a California Exposition on Treasure Island in June 1939, Harrington had occasion to record a Papago vocabulary from Manuel and Molly Williams of the Papago Reservation at Sells, Arizona..."  

But if you recall our Challenge about the Pacifica statue from a while back, we learned there that the original Pacifica statue was installed at the California Exposition on Treasure Island, so my search would have been: 

     [ Treasure Island Papago ]   or   

    [ California Exposition Papago ] 

 both of which lead to the previous Smithsonian page about Harrington visiting the Papago-speakers on Treasure Island.  Both the speakers and the statue were on Treasure Island at the same time.  (The Tohono speakers were at the "Indian Court," one of the exhibitions at the Exposition.)  

Why this query?  Because it seems really unlikely to me that Papago would have somehow been connected to the statue, but it was very likely to be at the main event--which in this case was the California Exposition, or linked to its unusual place name, "Treasure Island."  both are correct.  



4.  I'd like to learn more about their spoken language: Can you find a recording of someone speaking it? 

This was pretty easy as well.  I went straight to YouTube with the query: 


     [ O'odham language ] 

and found a good number of examples.  




The second hit is a nice extended sample of David Garcia (of Tohono.tv) speaking in Tohono O'odham.  





Search Lessons 

1.  Remember:  Names change, and your search strategy has to take this into account.  I have to admit that I knew "Papago" was an outdated term.  But I didn't know what the new/correct name was.  So I had to start with Papago, and then learn the correct name is Tohono O'odham.  

This becomes a real issue whenever you're trying to do research in history.  Some places change names frequently (example: the city of Constantinople has been known by many names over the years, including Byzantium, Βυζάντιον, Konstantinoupolis, Κωνσταντινούπολις, and Instanbul).  Remember this is also true for people and ideas.  The political party definition of "Republican" has varied a great deal over time, and some political parties no longer exist (in the US, as is true elsewhere).  When was the last time you spoke to someone who described themselves as a "Whig"?  

But sometimes the old ways linger (searching for "Indian" is often a great strategy, even though that's not the preferred term these days).  This is especially important when you start to search for changeable terms in archives?  (Note:  You might have to do a search for a decidedly non-PC term like "injun" to find references in archives.)  

2.  Dig into  the anomalies you find.  The straight-edge tribal land boundary looked suspicious to me, which is why I decided to dig a little deeper.  The fact that the Tohono O'odham people predate the US/Mexico border AND that the tribal land boundary happened to line up with the state boundary... well, that's too much coincidence.  Sure enough, there's a good explanation for the anomaly.  




For Teachers 


(This is a new section I'll add from time to time--ideas for more research for your students.)  

A.  How many Tohono O'odham speakers are there?  Who's making the estimates of the numbers?  (Remember that a US Census won't count the folks in Mexico.)  How do such population estimates get made? 

B.  Are there other Tohono tribes?  What are their names?  Did they split off from the "main" tribe once, or why would there be other Tohono speakers?  




Search on!