Wednesday, June 28, 2017

SearchResearch Challenge (6/28/17): How can you see across time?


Seeing a place once... 

... and then seeing it again 10 years later is often a shock, but also sometimes a revelation.  Things change, places are transformed, the new washes in--and if you look over a long enough period, you can see the planet change.  

As an example, here's a place that's not far from my old work location from 2007: 


Of course, this is California, so things change quickly.  This is the same place 8 years later.  



And this happens at larger scales as well.  Here's San Francisco in 1938: 


And SF a 21 years later: 



In the course of doing my research on various SRS Challenges, I've done a lot of looking for images at time X and then the same shot a few years later.  But even after I've found them, the problem of comparing them is always problematic.  I can sometimes put them up side-by-side, like this: 


While that's handy, it's really hard to compare individual locations.  I end up using two fingers to locate the same spots on both images, then flicking my eyes back and forth.  

This leads me to ask you for help.  Our Challenges this week are:  

1.  Is there any way I can make a web page that lets me have two pictures side-by-side and then have a slider that let's me easily move a divider between one image and the other?  (Here's a mockup of what I'd like. In this illustration, you can click on the circle and drag the divider back and forth to see more of one image or the other.) 



2. In this same vein, I'd like to see a nice time lapse of a place--ANY place.  (You can probably find an aerial time lapse of any particular large city.)  Can you find a worldwide tool that will let me see any place on the planet with a roughly 10 year timelapse view? I'm looking for something that will allow me to see this: 


More particularly, can I get a time-lapse of other places?  (Say, Antarctica, Tahiti, or the Canary Islands.)  

So, class... we're looking for tools this week.  Can you locate these?   (And are there other tools that can help us look at time-based images for comparison?)  

And, if you manage to find a timelapse tool, what's the most interesting place you've found?  

As always, let us know HOW you found the answer (and, for this week), what's the most interesting!

Search on!

_____________________

Addendum:  Regular Reader Judith dropped me a note to say that there's a bit more to the "floaters" story that I should have mentioned in our last Challenge.  She wrote to me with a great comment: 

"Floaters that appear gradually and are there all the time are nothing to worry about.  However, if there is a sudden increase of floaters, it may be a medical emergency as this can be the sign of a retinal detachment.

Anyone who experiences an onrush of floaters should see an ophthalmologist immediately."  

Thanks, Judith.  (I'm going to edit my original post to reflect this.) 


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Answer: Seeing things?

We see things all the time...  

.. you often just don't notice.  This is part of the complexity of this Challenge--you see these visual effects often, but we almost never talk about them.  If that's true, HOW do you search for them?  



Here's what I did to find these answers.  

1.  When I went for a run a while ago, I scampered around a blind corner and smashed my forehead into a stop sign.  The impact didn't hurt much, but it dropped me flat on my back onto the sidewalk.  I got up quickly and resumed running.  Nothing was hurt, BUT this is what my visual field looked like: 




There was a relatively large C-shaped fuzzy spot just to the left of my visual center.  I fell on my back, so my eyes were untouched by the accident.  The good news is that this fuzziness went away on its own after about 1 hour.  Challenge:  WHAT is this visual disruption called?  Should I worry about it? 

As Remmij pointed out, this IS in Cupertino (when I worked for Apple), but not actually at this corner.  (I used this photo because it was really close to where the "stoppage" actually happened. But the real place is pretty unphotogenic.)  

I searched for: 

     [ C-shaped blur vision ] 

and found the Wikipedia article about scintillating scotomas, which are shimmering regions of the visual field that are often C-shaped and associated with migraines.  Here are two images from the Wikipedia article that illustrate this.  




These both are C-shaped in the same way as my blurred vision, and my visual effect did scintillate a bit, but this clearly wasn't a migraine.  Could a fairly simple head trauma cause this?  

As I read the article, I found a link to scotoma without the "scintillating" and found that this effect is sometimes caused by preeclampsia (a disorder sometimes found during pregnancy, not my problem), poisoning, demyelinating diseases, or migraines.  

Since this was a one time event, I wondered if my scotoma could be caused by hitting my head.  It's quite possible that I hit the back of my head on the sidewalk when I was abused by the stop sign. 

My next query was for: 

     [ scotoma head trauma ] 

I used the medical terminology "trauma" rather than "hitting my head" in order to get more medical results in my SERP.  

The second result led me to the page "Visual fields in brain injury" I learned something even more specific: that scotomas that look exactly like mine are also called Unilateral Temporal Crescent Scotoma or Half Moon Syndrome.  The page indicated that this can be caused by head trauma, so I modified my search to include this new descriptive term: 

     [ unilateral temporal crescent scotoma head trauma ] 

and found a few more pages (such as this one) that describe the visual effects after "traumatic brain injury" (TBI).  Clearly, I just had a whack on the head, and not really a serious brain injury.  But this IS one of the ways that your visual system can be disrupted.  

Bottom line: I had a scotoma after whacking my head pretty hard on the concrete.  Luckily, it resolved itself pretty quickly, so I never developed any of the more outrageous forms of the effect.  

2.  Unrelated to Challenge #1, I noticed recently that whenever I look up into a clear blue sky (or at a blank white wall) I see lots of small circles and a few "threads" kind of wandering around.  They're not big enough to obscure anything, and I don't notice them during the ordinary course of the date... but they're kind of odd.  Again, WHAT are these things called?  Should I worry about them?  
For this one, I did the query: 

     [ circles threads in vision ] 

which gave me a BUNCH of results about "floaters."  I mean, everything was about "floaters."  What are they?  Clicking on a few links (here's a good one from Eye Health Web) taught me that they are also known as vitreous floaters or eye spots, are tiny specks, circles, or thread-like clouds that appear in your field of vision. They are a common occurrence, and they can appear periodically or they can be around for quite a while.  

Eye floaters usually vary in size and shape. Although they can appear in youth, most people who experience eye floaters are over the age of 50 (that would be me).   Eye floaters can usually be seen when looking at plain, light-colored backgrounds (such as a wall or the sky) and may appear black, gray, white, or “see through.”

So, nothing to worry about, they're just a side-effect of having aging eyes.  Nothing to worry about.  

3.  Unrelated to #1 or #2:  Even though I have lots of experience seeing the world, I also noticed that when I close my eyes for a second and then look downward rapidly without opening my eyes, I see a fairly large circle appear and then disappear in a couple of seconds.  I'm surprised I've never noticed this before, but I have no idea what this visual effect is called or what causes it!  Can you tell me?  (And let us know if you see this circle appearing when you look down with closed eyes.)  

For this visual effect, my search was: 


     [ ring of light when I close my eyes ] 

which led me to a slightly gossipy site (Huffington Post) with a somewhat glib article about "rings of light"... but also had another word:  phosphene.  Since I didn't know that word, I did a: 

     [ define phosphene ] 

which told me that it was a "a ring or spot of light produced by pressure on the eyeball or direct stimulation of the visual system other than by light."  

Interesting.  So I changed my search to: 


    [ ring phosphene when I close my eyes ] 

which led me to Optometry Forum, which has an article on exactly this phenomenon.  That article suggested I do a search for: 

     [ phosphene entoptic phenomena ] 

which in turn led me to the Wikipedia page on Entoptic Phenomena (there IS such a page?).  There I learned more about floaters (confirming what I learned above), and more mentions of phosphenes as the probable cause of the rings I see when closing my eyes and looking down. 

--- Update to this page (June 28, 2017) -- 
As Regular Reader Judith pointed out:  

"Floaters that appear gradually and are there all the time are nothing to worry about.  However, if there is a sudden increase of floaters, it may be a medical emergency as this can be the sign of a retinal detachment.
Anyone who experiences an onrush of floaters should see an ophthalmologist immediately."  

She's right.  If you normally do NOT see floaters, but all of a sudden see a bunch of new floaters, get yourself to a doctor.  


 Search Lessons 

A couple of lessons here.... 

1. Sometimes you must go deeper.  In Challenges 1 and 3, we had to do an initial search, then decide what to learn from our initial results (usually additional terminology) in order to do a better search that will get us to higher quality results.  Pay attention to the language used in the results you find.  Even if that particular result isn't of high quality, it might well give you a search term or two that you CAN use to improve your searches.  

2. Use medical terminology for medical queries (but be sure you know the right terms to use).  In the scotoma example, I used the term "head trauma" to improve the quality (and targeting) of my search.  As always, be positive those specialized terms mean what you think they mean.  (Use define and friends to verify that you really know those words.)  



Not to worry, my vision is fine.  (So far at least.)  Hope you enjoyed this small medical mystery! 

Search on! 

Monday, June 26, 2017

A slight delay of game...


Hi folks... 

I'll be back tomorrow to answer our SRS Challenge from last week.  (I forgot that I'd be speaking at a conference today, so today is full of preparations for that talk.)  

It's not all work, work, work though.  The conference is on a lovely beach.  Here's a picture from this morning's run. 


And here is the track of my run, as recorded by my phone's GPS tracker.  


As you might recall from an earlier blog post about the errors in GPS and maps, I really don't (yet) know how to run on water.  

But I'll be free to write up my thoughts tomorrow morning.  See you then! 

Keep searching... 


Thursday, June 22, 2017

"You want to do what??" A commencement address for the I-school at the University of Maryland (2017)


It's graduation season. 

Last month (May, 2017) I was fortunate to be asked to give the commencement address at the University of Maryland's Information School.  As you might know, I hang out there from time to time talking about information-y things, and it was a real honor to be asked to impart some wisdom to the graduating class as they head out the door to the start of their post-graduate life.  

This is what I said to those students.  I thought you, my fellow SRSers, might enjoy reading this.  





May 22, 2017 * U. Maryland, I-school Commencement Address  


"You want to do what?"  



I've been thinking a great deal about the genre of commencement speeches over the past month.  And I did what anyone from Google would do… I went to YouTube and did a search for: 

     [great commencement speeches] 

over the past couple of years. 

I then sat down to watch about 50 or so.  

I recommend you never do this.   And I mean it: Do NOT do this.  

Basically, they’re an unending series of platitudes and tropes that are either blindingly obvious, or something your parents have already told you.  You’re heard them before.  

They say things like:  

   Don’t give up.  
   You become strong through adversity.  
   Be the best you that you can be.  
   Follow your dreams. 
   Listen to your inner voice. 
   Be true to yourself. 
   Your future is limitless.

Those are all fine things to say, but they’re all very yadda yadda yadda...

And by the tenth video, you’re thinking that these people have to find something new to say.  I got it already. I suspect that these kinds of maxims just wash over the new graduates leaving few dents in their nearly graduated skulls.  

Of course, commencement speeches are like toasts at weddings—you never hear them back-to-back.  They’re occasional speeches never intended to be heard in a row.   

However, I DID learn something. I found a pattern to all of these speeches.  Here it is.  Each speech has 5 movements:  

1. Give thanks to the wonderful people who brought you here. 

2. Tell a touching personal story about how you rose from adversity to be the kind of person who gives commencement speeches. 

3. Mention the name of the university sports mascot and gain instant acclaim.  

4. Draw a high moral lesson from your experience that you really never thought about… until you had to give a commencement speech. 

5. Close with stirring words intended to bring a tear to the eye and elicit a standing ovation.  


Got it?  That’s the pattern.  You may now sleep through the next 100 commencement addresses. 

Except for this one. 

Because I was thinking… What value can *I* bring to you based on my background? 

Let me follow the pattern and first tell you MY touching personal story….

I grew up as the son of a poor family in Southern California.  That meant many meals of white bread and catsup sandwiches because you could feed a family of four for a dollar.  

It was a family that had no academic background at all. I was the first to go to university from my family, and the first to get a graduate degree and a PhD.  

Words like “matriculation” and “registrar” meant a trip to the dictionary.  My parents were curious people with a desire to know more.  They passed that gift to me… along with a used dictionary from a second-hand bookstore. Did you know that previously used, out-of-date edition dictionaries are quite inexpensive?  They’re awfully handy when  you want to figure out what “matriculation” really means.  

But I was also lucky enough to grow up in Los Angeles where your parents could take you to the free museum of science and technology,  and you could boost an old radio or TV from the trash (for a little disassembly and practical electronics).  With the help of some fantastically inspired schoolteachers, a poor kid could pick up enough background knowledge about science and tech to get into the University of California.

So when I graduated with my degree in Information and Computer Science, I had to explain what that was.  Back then I spent all my time talking about computer science because that was the easy to understand part of my degree.  

Only years later, I realized that the information part was the important bit.  Sure the computer science-y algorithmic thinking is important, but that class on archaic Token Ring networking protocols…   not so much.   

What WAS important was learning how to learn—be it word definitions or how to reconstruct a radio from junked parts.  

Mulling over my story made me realize the moral lessons that hadn’t occurred to me…  until I had the chance to give a commencement speech.  

Here are a few insights about the world just ahead of you.  


1.  The world you’re graduating into is different than what’s gone before.  

Yeah, students have always said this  “You just don’t understand… the world is different now.”  Well, you’re right.  In one sense, that’s trivial..  things change.  But I mean it seriously. 

Roughly half of all the jobs you students will have in 10 years are not yet defined.  Another big fraction of the jobs you think you’re aiming for just won’t be there in any recognizable form.  

You’re going to have to be flexible because single-track lifelong employment is rapidly going the way of the Hollerith punch card.  

When I was a lad I dreamed of running a punch card sorter.  The moment I learned how was the moment that they became obsolete.  Punch card machine operator:  Talk about a useless skill for today… Moral:  Stay flexible.  


2.  Your future will be determined not by what you know, but what you can learn between now and then.  

Your ability to LEARN – to be an autodidact (go ahead.. whip out your phone and look it up) will be a major, major key to your success in the future.  

We all know what the information explosion of the past few years has meant.  Yeah, there’s a lot out there—but you need to not just throw up your hands and complain about information overload.  Look, we’ve ALWAYS had information overload.  People have been complaining about this since the dawn of writing.  A big part of what makes you special is that you’ve got some understanding about how the information world is put together, and what to do with all that knowledge.  In other words, 


3.  The I-school has uniquely prepared you to fit into this strange new information world.  

You are an INFORM-ATARION.  Your I-schooling has given you the concepts and tools to understand how information is organized, how it works, who owns it, and how to find the information you need to be a better employee, a better person, a better citizen.  

You’ve learned what a database schema is, and you can use one in hand-to-hand combat.  You know to avoid clickbait and how to critically read through fake news.  

But to the outsiders—the NON-INFORMATION-ATARIANS… The term “information science / management or technology” can be a bit squishy and fuzzy around the edges.  

Yet we know that I-technologies-and-sciences are at the heart of the revolution that is powering many of the economic and social changes worldwide.  

So what does it mean to get a degree in “information science” and why do you want one?  

As my parents asked me:  You want to do WHAT? 

You’ve chosen to be an INFORMATION-ATARIAN… At the very core, that means that you understand what information is, how it’s created, interpreted, transformed, used, and lost or damaged.  

However, it also means you understand not just the scientific and technological basis, but also deeply understand the humans at the center of it all.   

It turns out that this squishy stuff—INFORMATION—is what drives companies like Amazon, Facebook, Lyft, Disney, NASA, the CDC, and Google.  It’s what drives social networks to have billions of active daily users—it’s what allows YouTube to serve over 1 billion hours of video each day.  Sure some of it is funny cat videos, but a LOT of that traffic is educational content that’s bringing knowledge to the world.  

And for someone with your degree, you have the kind of knowledge of how information works… and just as importantly, how HUMANS understand, use, abuse, and misunderstand information.  


Following my commencement talk pattern, I’m going to close with two pieces of advice.  One practical, and one intended to bring a tear to your eye.  

FIRST comes the emotionally important part… this is the eye tearing, emotionally connecting part… 

Let me ask this question again—You want to do what??  This isn’t just about what’s next for your job… but what are you going to do with your life? 

I know, I know… I sound like your parents… and like all of those other commencement addresses.  

But seriously-- what is worth your time and attention?  I mean this broadly. 

4.  THIS is that big moral teaching that is part 4 of the commencement speech pattern.  

Later today, when you find yourself staring into the bottom of a red plastic Solo cup, puzzling out the next steps in your life, think about this:  YOU have the remarkable power to design your life… with all of your individual choices about what to focus on and what to ignore.  And you have to do this every hour, week, year, for the next several decades.  How will you choose to spend your time?  How will you choose to spend your precious attention?  

In a world of even more information, and ever more ways to distract you, the only really limited resource is your personal, human attention.  

In those choices you make about what to attend … you are designing the landscape of your life.  

     And you have to be careful 
     about what you do 
     with the best parts of each day… 

I want you to think about where you put the Heart of Your Day.  

There are only so many hours in each day when you can be fully present, fully engaged, fully woke. 

If you’re working in a full-time job … it’s really only about 4 hours.  Where do you want to place your bets with your time? 

Probably not on clickbait and fake news or all of the attractive widgets that intend to steal your attention.  

Think of it this way:  What are the clickbaits in your life?  Is it college basketball?  Celebrity news?  Fashion?  Twitch gaming?  

Here’s an important Life Hack I’m going to hand down to you:  

Every so often (say, every week or so) you want to interrupt yourself from the terribly important things you’re doing—washing the dishes, playing your two-thousandth game of Angry Birds, League of Legends, or Candy Crush.  Stop and ask yourself—Is this the best way to be spending my time?  Is this where I want my attention to go?   Reflect on each week with care.  It’s the only week you’ve got—live it with attention.  

My advice:  Design your life as though it was your greatest piece of art.   Because it is.  Be conscious of how you spend your attention and where your heart goes… because that’s going to determine what the art of your life actually becomes.   


BUT SECOND comes an important big of incredibly pragmatic advice.  Here it is.  

Nothing makes you lose status in the information world—among your fellow INFORM-ATARIANS  like having a massive loss of personal data.  It tells us that you learned nothing in the I-school.  

So make me proud, make your I-school faculty proud, … and let me give you perhaps the most important piece of advice you might ever get from the I-school: 

Don’t suffer a data loss.   

Back up your files.  




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

SearchResearch Challenge (6/21/17): Seeing things?


Seeing is complicated and subtle.  


Of course, it works really well most of the time.  We see colors, textures, print, cats, people, silver moonlight on the river, smiles, and that expression from your beloved.  

But sometimes vision gets more complicated than we'd like.  This is our topic for this week--When you see things, what's going on (and how concerned should you be)?  



These three Challenges really happened to me, so I am, naturally, very curious about what you'll discover!  

1.  When I went for a run a while ago, I scampered around a blind corner and smashed my forehead into a stop sign.  The impact didn't hurt much, but it dropped me flat on my back onto the sidewalk.  I got up quickly and resumed running.  Nothing was hurt, BUT this is what my visual field looked like: 


There was a relatively large C-shaped fuzzy spot just to the left of my visual center.  I fell on my back, so my eyes were untouched by the accident.  The good news is that this fuzziness went away on its own after about 1 hour.  Challenge:  WHAT is this visual disruption called?  Should I worry about it? 

2.  Unrelated to Challenge #1, I noticed recently that whenever I look up into a clear blue sky (or at a blank white wall) I see lots of small circles and a few "threads" kind of wandering around.  They're not big enough to obscure anything, and I don't notice them during the ordinary course of the date... but they're kind of odd.  Again, WHAT are these things called?  Should I worry about them?  

3.  Unrelated to #1 or #2:  Even though I have lots of experience seeing the world, I also noticed that when I close my eyes for a second and then look downward rapidly without opening my eyes, I see a fairly large circle appear and then disappear in a couple of seconds.  I'm surprised I've never noticed this before, but I have no idea what this visual effect is called or what causes it!  Can you tell me?  (And let us know if you see this circle appearing when you look down with closed eyes.)  


Let us know what you figure out... let's SEE if you can answer my Challenges! 

As always, let us know what you discover--and just as importantly, HOW you found out what you did.  

Search on! 


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Two upcoming talks I'm giving this weekend (ALA and IRE)

A Public Service Announcement for librarians, reporters, and editors...  

I'm giving two different talks this weekend.  If you find yourself at either event, please come up and say hi!  (It's great to meet SRS readers in the real world.)  


_______________

Saturday, June 24, 2017
American Library Association (ALA)  

where:  Chicago Convention Center, McCormick Place, W180

time:  1PM – 2:30PM 

title:  “What do you need to know? Learning and Knowing in the Age of the Internet
abstract: What does it mean to be literate at a time when you can search billions of texts in less than half a second? Although you might think that "literacy" is one of the great constants that transcends the ages, the skills of a literate person have changed substantially over time as texts and technology allow for new kinds of reading and understanding. Knowing how to read is just the beginning of it -- knowing how to frame a question, pose a query, how to interpret the texts you find, how to organize and use the information you discover, how to understand your metacognition -- these are all critical parts of being literate as well. In this talk I’ll review what literacy is in the age of Google, and show how some very surprising and unexpected skills will turn out to be critical in the years ahead. 


_______________

Sunday, June 25, 2017

where:  JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge.  Grand Canyon 11-13 (conference room)
time:  9 - 10AM

abstract:  It's happened to you--you need to do a story on a topic that's completely outside of your experience.  Surely there's someone more qualified?  The answer is usually NO.  Now what?  Now you have to come up to speed on that topic ASAP.  In this mini-course I'll show you the strategies and tactics I use to learn a domain as rapidly as possible.  You won't be an expert, but you'll have a bunch of tips and methods to get to competence quickly.  I can't make you pass the PhD exam in quantum physics, but a little knowledge about learning and Google search strategies can get to through that story.  



Monday, June 19, 2017

Answer: What's difficult for YOU to find?

As you might have expected, there are many answers.   

I'm not surprised, but the variety of answers (and questions) DID surprise me!  


SRS readers have a wide variety of interests!


 This week's Challenge is about what kinds of SearchResearch questions come up for YOU in your average week.  To restate it: 


1.  What kinds of things do you find tough to research?  In an average week (however you define that),  what topics and questions do you find yourself trying to research?  

Here's what I found (from the 67 different replies I got--not just from the blog, but from other surveys as well).  

I broke the replies down into two groups.  Well, here's my summary of each category.  


A.  Easy searches.  Things we search for all the time (but aren't especially difficult to find).  This is mostly just plain old finding stuff.  Samples include:

   - word definitions
   - how to something (often looking for a YouTube video) 
   - validating interesting things we've heard 
   - simple programming questions
   - recipes
   - street addresses
   - business hours... 

Of course, sometimes these searches turn out to be harder than we expect, and they move into the difficult category.  (Keep reading...)  


B.  Difficult searches.  Things we search for, but ARE difficult to find.  These often take multiple searches, drawing on many information resources at the same time.  Some examples are: 

    - medical procedures
   - vacation information 
   - chemical structures 
   - competing interpretations of events 
   - search for quantitative information 
   - finding information about companies... 

What makes these tasks more difficult?  

There's no simple answer (of course), but based on what I see when I help people solve these kinds of search tasks, there are 4 sources of difficulty.   


1.  The search task goal is unclear and requires that you learn something before you can solve it.  

This is often the case with medical search tasks.  I see people starting their search task with a statement like "I want to learn everything about mesothelioma..."  (Substitute your own medical condition in place of mesothelioma.)  But that's a huge task that's made more difficult by having a great deal of complex medical language standing in the way.  

2.  The good information isn't easily found with Google.  

Yes, I said it... For some topics you really need to go use specialized databases.  This is usually because the specific information you need is owned by a specific data provider or is aggregated by a data provider with particular interest in that topic.  This is usually the case with business data, genealogical, or chemical information.  (That's not to say you can't find some information that's open access on these topics, but sometimes you really have to pay for the good stuff.)  


3.  There's no one-stop shop for your information need--you have to pull from multiple sources. 

This is often the case for complex tasks like "searching for vacation information."  It's not a simple, easily solved query.  Even "one-stop shops" for travel information often don't have the depth of information (or a different point of view) that you might like for your search task.   This is true when you're buying something big for your home (such as "buying a refrigerator"), planning a family trip, or trying to understand how to use the Angular 2 Javascript framework in your programming.  


4.  The information you seek doesn't have an easy-to-search-for name.   

Search terms are important, especially when they're hard to give.  For instance, when you're looking for "quantitative data" about a subject (say, the negotiated sales price of a company), or something that you can recognize but find difficult to name (such as "competing perspective on a hot political topic"), the you've got a tough search time on your hands.  It's not you--really--it's the internet that's not helping you out.  It would be nice if everything was metadata tagged appropriately and correctly, but that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

So.. what can we do about these difficult search tasks?  

I don't have enough space in this blogpost to give you the answer (nor enough time this week).  

But I CAN promise to write SRS Challenges (and corresponding answers) in the weeks ahead.  In particular, I'll write up Challenges and some great methods to handle these sources of difficult in the weeks ahead.   

In particular I'll write up the following ideas: 

* how to find free business data resources (and what tradeoffs you make when you go free, rather than using subscription databases),

* how to do complex "multi-source" research tasks (I'll tell you the methods I use to pull together info from many sources and then organize it to make sense),

* how to articulate your search goal(s) so that you'll have a better chance of finding what you want and minimizing wasted time trying to figure this stuff out, 

* how to articulate the kinds of information you're searching for that's otherwise difficult to name.  


Stay tuned. 

And thanks for all the great ideas!  Your replies (and survey results) were great!  

Search on. 



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Search results sorted by date?


I wanted to highlight an interesting discussion that's been happening in the comments of last week's Challenge.  

Regular Reader Diane asked a great question: 

"... [is] there is a way to order Google search results by date?I did a search on ["search lessons" site:searchresearch1.blogspot.com ] to get a list of the search lessons you provide in the various challenges. I'd like to be able to order my search results by date, with the most recent one first. Is there a way to do that?"
After she asked that question, Regular Readers Ramón and Remmij pointed out that Diane has two options. 

First, if it's just the blog posts that Diane wants to see in chronological order, the simplest way is to look at the "Blog Archive" on the right hand side.  You can scroll down now to see them.  It looks like this:


As you can see, the entire history of SearchResearch is there, all the way back to 2010.  

(Has it really been 7 years of blogging?? My how the time flies.)  

You can also search for specific topic within all of the blog posts by clicking on the search box in the upper left: 


.. which you can then sort by date.  

HOWEVER... oddly enough, this search tool only shows you the top 6 hits.  If you do a site: search like this, you'll find many more!  

Here, I'm searching for every blog post where I use the word "polymath."  There are 22 results over the past 7 years.  





But perhaps more to the point, you can date restrict any search results by using the time filter tool.  

To do that, click on the "Tools" item (circled in the above image), then select which option you want to restrict by.  



This isn't quite showing the results sorted by time, but you can get pretty close.  Here's my search limited to just 2015.  First you specify the date range for acceptable results by entering just the dates for 2015.  


Then, when you click on "Go" you'll find that you get just the results from the blog that were published in 2015.  



This isn't quite what Diane asked for, but it's pretty useful! 

Search on!