Tara Calishain is the co-author of Official Netscape Guide to Internet Research, 2nd Edition, and author or co-author of four other books. She is the owner of CopperSky Writing & Research.
In This Issue:
The Latest on Legal Research
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Competitive Analysis Technologies has announced the seventh quarterly release of “Power Utilities on the Internet” with data current as the fourth quarter of 2001. The database provides power industry personnel with generation and distribution information from the electrical and gas industries, with over 3100 sites divided into sixteen categories. Get more information
from the press release at: http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/011031/312025_1.html.
Ben White reports that the Office of Management and Budget will expand the amount of information it discloses online. It plans to develop a searchable
computerized system that will track regulations under review. Citizens will be able to view the regulation’s progress and additional information including
correspondence from outside interests groups.
Advocates say the new plan is a good one, especially for public interest groups and citizens that currently must rely on a Washington reading room for the latest regulatory updates. You can read the full story at
The mission of the National Center for State Courts is to improve justice. Its site, at http://www.ncsconline.org/, is a portal of information resources for State Courts. Resources on the page start with a keyword search option in the top corner, and continues to link to a science, technology & law center as well as a Best Practices Institute.
Click on NCSC Divisions for more sources like the Institute for Court Management, Court Services and Technology Services. Technology Services includes over 90 courtroom technology vendors (divided by category, plenty of information in the profiles I checked), NCSC functional standards and Information Superhighway Implementation Guidelines.
The Projects & Initiatives Page (http://www.ncsconline.org/Projects_Initiatives/index.htm) currently links to two projects — Public Trust and Confidence, and Science, Technology and the Law. Unfortunately the database connected with the PT&C project is still under construction. The ST&L site is very nice, several resource pages (resources for
judges, a current awareness subsite, etc.)
This site will fool you because it doesn’t look very deep from its first nav bar. But the “inner sites,” like the T&tL project, are filled with good resources. Worth a look but it’ll have to be a close look.
Knowledgeplex, at http://www.knowledgeplex.org, is powered by the Fannie Mae Foundation and is a portal to information about affordable housing and community development. Registration on the site offers e-mail updates, saveable searches, joining AH/CD online neighborhoods and a chance to personalize the site. (Registration is extremely non-intrusive; it asks only for a user name, e-mail and a password. However, if you want to register for the KnowledgePlex Communities, which is optional, you are asked for much more information including physical address, job title, and organization.)
KnowledgePlex’s search engine accepts searching by keyword or phrase. There is also an advanced search option in which queries can be filtered by date, document or subject areas and keywords can be more
manipulated. A search for “discrimination” put ten results on the front page but unfortunately there was no search count provided. A search for “race discrimination” found seven results with a result count. If you’re logged in you can save your searches; handy.
In addition to the information provided about Knowledgeplex, the home page provides the latest news about housing, links to the founding partners sites and direct access to its five most frequently used references. (At this writing they were all news topics, with the 3rd most popular topic being “Connecticut to receive $12M in housing aid”).
The Housing News page features a news article and categorizes other headlines under topics such as mortgage insurance, affordable housing and mortgage banking. The right column lists all of the categories for bookmarking directly to the subject of choice or search the archive by date and category.
I’m not wild about the teeny fonts on this site, and there’s a lot of information here that requires digesting. But this site is definitely worth a look.
The Center for Digital Government and Government Technology conducted the Digital Cities Survey to measure how cities use information technology to provide services. Participating cities were grouped according to population: those over 250,000, 125,000 to 250,000 and 75,000 to 125,000. City officials were questioned and Web sites were evaluated. More information on the survey is available at http://www.centerdigitalgov.com.
In the group with populations over 250,000, Honolulu scored the highest with a Web site that provides a “‘storefront’ operation” for citizens unable to visit
City Hall and contact with various city officials via e-mail. Other winners were Plano, Texas in the group with populations of 125,000 to 250,000 and Roanoke, Virginia in the 75,000 to 125,000 group. You can get more winners and more information about the survey here.
The Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography has a new version. Version 39 has over 1,450 articles, books, etc., dealing with scholarly electronic publishing on the Internet. It comes in three versions:
A little background. Weblogs.com was a place that automatically checked Web logs (including ResearchBuzz) and listed the most recently-changed
Recently Weblogs.com “turned the corner” and changed the way they operate, because of the large number of Web logs that were being checked. Now, Web logs which wish to be included in the “changes.xml” list (more about that in a minute) have to alert Weblogs.com that their Web logs have changed.
Let’s take these things one at a time. If you have a Web log and want to participate in Weblogs.com, you’ve got several options for alerting Weblogs.com that your ‘blog has changed. If you’re like me and you couldn’t
program your way out of a wet paper bag, use the manual method. Next time you update your Web log, fill out the form on this page:
http://newhome.weblogs.com/pingSiteForm. The result page will have the form filled out. BOOKMARK THE RESULT PAGE. Next time you want to alert Weblogs.com of your page update, all you have to do is bring up the bookmarked page.
Now if you do know how to program, you have several options for alerting Weblogs.com when your page changes. There’s a list of methods you can use at http://newhome.weblogs.com/directory/11/implementations. Implementations are available in Perl, PHP, AppleScript, etc. And if you are not into programming but want to do something technical and groovy, there’s a bookmarklet available at
Now, back to the changes.xml file. When a Web log reports in as changed, its added to a changes.xml file. Now, here’s the cool thing, and the whole reason I’m covering this in ResearchBuzz. Other sites can use the changes.xml file with their own Web sites. DayPop, the Web log/news search engine, is using changes.xml page to determine when its search engine should crawl Web logs. This means that in a best-case scenario DayPop can index sites ONE HOUR after they add new information (worst case, using changes.xml, is five hours.) Dan Chan, the man behind DayPop, says:
“For Daypop, supporting the changes.xml file from weblogs.com was an easy step to take. The XML file is short and simple and easy to parse. It didn’t take much work at all to grab what amounts to a list of updated weblogs along with update times and use that information to start recrawling those weblogs. This
results in a “fresher” index — one step closer to a true Just-In-Time search.”
Now why am I covering this? For a couple of reasons. 1) This technology allows a search engine to make a big step forward. 2) The final criteria for inclusion in ResearchBuzz is “would a reference librarian find it useful?” The idea that one site acts as an aggregate and generates a .xml file that another site can use is really exciting, in my opinion. I’d like to explore more examples of this; expect more coverage of such things in weeks to come if I can find ’em.