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Dean's Digital World
Sources 50

Leaning Forward, Looking Back

By Dean Tudor

Dean Tudor

The Publisher wondered if I'd care to make some comments about Sources' 50th issue. I can remember issue number 10, back in 1982, my first appearance. It was a quid pro quo: Barrie Zwicker, then the Publisher, lectured to my students and in return I exhorted Sources' users to begin their searching with the index to Sources. I still look like my picture, and so does Barrie -- still looks like his, of course, not mine. And we have both moved on from these jobs: we both retired early to free-lancing. No more teaching and no more indexing! For many years, it was a slice. I moved up to Informatics Consultant from indexer guru, moving through computerized data-bases, the differences between offline and online, hypertexts, E-mail, and bulletin board systems (BBS: remember those???) such as GuildNet. Then I began writing a column and reviews in 1994, just as the Web was breaking free from from text (gophers, lynx browser: see below) and moving to graphics (Mosaic, Netscape).

And now I have settled comfortably into a twice a year column for Sources -- with one regret. My semi-annual updates tend to be broad, and may only be useful for awhile. My emphasis has always been on the big picture, mainly because of this awful time delay. But I think that broadness might be fragmenting with the need for uptodate news, faster than ever before.

An example of time passing me by: in the list of wine resources I wrote about in issue Number 49, one of the Web sites was dead by the time the issue came out, and another one has died since publication, and two more have since merged, sortof...

I'd like to report on the exciting Google News service, now in beta (this is April 2002 as I write this). But it may be something else by the time you read this in September or October 2002 -- and the URL will also have changed. The beta URL has been <www.google.ca/news/newsheadlines.html> and will probably end up being something like <news.google.com>.

Previously, I've been using my Yahoo account to access the news. I go over to <ca.my.yahoo.com> and my page opens with nine headlines from each of a variety of sources (Reuters, AP, CP, New York Times, Rolling Stone, CNET, Editor and Publisher) in a variety of subject categories -- limited to 20, so that's 180 headlines with links, all North American publications. More customization gets me three comics, weather, sports results, wine data, nutrition, health, business, technology, entertainment, Canadian news, stock markets, recipe of the day: a whole pile of miscellaneous matter. You don't even need to have an account; just go over and get the default of three headlines in a variety of categories plus other links.

But Google covers headlines that are updated hourly, in categories such as top stories, world, US, business, entertainment, technology and sports. There are hundreds of news sources from the Web, including newspaper, broadcast, and Internet sites. Canada is included (torstar.com, canada.com, canoe.ca, globeandmail.com, cbc.ca, etc.), as well as the International Herald Tribune, the BBC -- so long as it is in English. But that will change. You get a lead followed by a bunch of similar stories in different sources. There is also the famous Google search mechanism, which will go through the headlines for a week back and pull up any subject matter. A search on "chardonnay" found four relevant articles, no more than one day old. Searches can also be done "allintitle:" "site:" and "allinurl:".

Google has certainly been moving ahead. It has all the DejaNews/UseNet archives, entry to current newsgroups, millions of sites dealing with "images" (photos, illustrations) retrievable by subject, plus a phonebook in beta mode (US only at this point, but soon the world) which will furnish you with an address and phone number for a residence and/or business (just key in lastname and city).

For most of these searches (that is, all but for images/graphics) I often use the Lynx browser, which is the text browser for Unix servers. It downloads rather quickly, and all you get are texts. NO ADS!!! No useless graphics; hence the speed. And you can cut and paste easily into any open document. There is a 32bit DOS version which can run on any Windows PC. Just go to <www.trill-home.com/lynx.html> where you can find all about Lynx, get the links, and download the 32bit version for installing on your PC. Just a few tweaks for homepage location, and you are away to getting all kinds of text...

Thankfully, I was not caught short by the recent crush of convergences (my crystal ball was correct on that one!), but many firms were trapped in a vicious "value" cycle. Between the time convergers were first announced and when they were actually consummated, the value of all deals plummeted, sometimes by as much as 40%. And equity shares have fallen by as much as 55%, as investors have questioned many of the assumptions behind the mergers. The synergies were just simply not there, and it has proved a disaster for AOL Time Warner, Vivendi, Bertelsmann, BCE, Quebecor -- just about everyone. The first item to be trimmed was staff, often as much as a third. A major reason for lack of success in the convergence business is that advertising simply did not follow. I am not sure what exactly the converger moguls were smoking, but who in their right minds would think that advertising levels would remain stable with convergence? Cutbacks are cutbacks. While TV broadcasting revenue in Canada increased by 2.5% in 2001, newspaper revenue dropped 2.8% in 2001. So convergers "stood still" -- yet still managed to pay for digital channel launches, trim staff (Corus Entertainment cut 325, Alliance Atlantis cut 80, BCE cut 150, CanWest sloughed many in bits and pieces through the year and added others), and play around with Internet Dot Coms. Spare me...

The best thing I can give you right now is to reveal my sources. Should I? In journalismland we are not supposed to, but what the hell, I've retired early from that grey area of education. Here is where I get all my data from the Internet via E-mail to my inbox (no effort on my part, not even clicking on links), and now you too can write your own column each and every day (by the way: I'll continue with this column, but I cannot promise to be as up-to-date as I'd like to be) ...

These are not necessarily in order of importance, but they are all free, and they'll arrive in your mailbox once or more a week. Most are -- or can be -- in HTML format. So click away:

1) NEWS-ON-NEWS/The Ifra Trend Report.
The Ifra Trend Report is a weekly executive summary of global trends, strategies and innovations influencing the future of news, newsrooms and news publishing. Editorial and research services are from the Center for Mass Communications Research at the University of South Carolina College. Recent stories have included: Convergence Changes Competitive Landscape; Print's Future Not Promising; Value Investors Want Editorial Quality; Wireless Portables Third Wave For Newspapers; Audio, Video To Stream To Mobiles; New Integration Technology Hits Newsrooms; Nightly Newscast Could Retire With Anchors. Sources include Washington Post, Online Journalism Review, various technical and Internet journals, with URLs. Read the Ifra Trend Report in styled format at <www.ifra.com/website/ifra.nsf/html/ITR-HTML> Archives are also there. To subscribe automatically by E-mail, send a message from your E-mail account to join-ifra-trendreport@kbx.de.

2) lii.org: Librarians' Index to the Internet
Another great weekly service, listing recent Web site discoveries, all annotated and described. About 10 a week, mostly databases and directories, with more in a supplement at the Web site. Some examples:

world-newspapers.com: World Newspapers, Magazines, and News Sites in English <www.world-newspapers.com> A searchable directory of online world newspapers, magazines, and news sites in English, from the customary to the bizarre, including alternative online publications. In addition, the news is searchable by magazine, newspaper, news, and television photo galleries.

bitterlemons.org: Palestinian-Israeli Crossfire <bitterlemons.org> This is "a website that presents Israeli and Palestinian viewpoints on prominent issues of concern. It focuses on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and peace process, but other, related regional issues are also discussed." Visitors may subscribe to weekly updates.

Fonetiks.org: The Online Language Laboratory <www.fonetiks.org> This "archive of human speech sounds" is a resource for people learning a language who want to really sound like a native speaker. There are audio clips demonstrating sounds in French (and French-Canadian), Spanish, German (and Swiss German), Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese (Romanji), Indonesian, and Thai. Students of English can hear the accents of American, British, Australian, Canadian, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh speakers.

David Baldwin's Trauma Information Pages <www.trauma-pages.com> This site is all about traumatic stress issues and their treatment, with links to full-text articles, related online databases, professional organizations, workshops, electronic journals, E-mail discussion lists, support resources, and mental health/disaster handouts.

lii.org (Librarians' Index to the Internet) is funded by the Library of California. To read lii.org New This Week on the Web, go to: <lii.org/ntw> To see MORE resources added this week, go to: <lii.org/mntw> To see over 10,000 other resources, go to: <lii.org> To join this list for delivery to your mailbox go to <lii.org/search/file/mailinglist>

3) Edupage
A news alert from Syracuse, home of Educause, dealing with applied technology in American universities, and gives summaries of articles from newspapers and magazines. Comes into my box twice a week, with such topics as: Group Considers GovNet and Other Security Measures; Support for ID Cards Waning; Antiplagiarism Sites with Questionable Ties to Paper Mills; Software Flaw Leaves Linux Vulnerable. Subscribe by sending an E-mailto listserv@listserv.educause.edu, with the message: subscribe Edupage Yourfirstname Yourlastname Or, to subscribe, unsubscribe, or change your settings, visit <www.educause.edu/pub/edupage/edupage.html>

4) ResearchBuzz
This site tracks and reviews changes, improvements and deaths of Internet research resources, including search engines, ask-an-expert sites, directories and Web portals. Tara Calishain, the owner, also tells you how to use and get the maximum benefit from the sites. Some examples:

The National University of Singapore Library offers Statistics on Singapore at <www.lib.nus.edu.sg/bib/ss/sscont.html>

Editorial Cartoon Database Available at GALILEO: 2,500 of 8,000 cartoons are now available online at <dlg.galileo.usg.edu/baldy.html> The cartoons cover 1946-1982 and cover US and international politics and issues.

Guides to sites that can reduce math anxiety (always a good idea for writers): <www.colormathpink.com> which is a math site designed for middle and high school girls. Southwest Texas State University's math anxiety sheet at <www.counseling.swt.edu/math_anxiety.htm> and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's bibliography of print and Web-based math anxiety resources at <www.uwm.edu/People/kal/anxiety.html>. MathNerds is another one <www.mathnerds.com> as is Mathpower <www.mathpower.com> which is oriented toward adult learners in community college who might be having problems with math anxiety. "Math in Daily Life," <www.learner.org/exhibits/dailymath> uses everyday situations like cooking, managing bank transactions, and home decorating to teach math concepts. Coolmath <www.coolmath.com> describes itself as "an amusement park of math." Math Forum <www.mathforum.org> includes "Ask Dr. Math," a Q&A column.

Subscription instructions are available at <www.researchbuzz.com>

5) Neat New Stuff
A weekly E-mail alert from Marylaine Block, free-lance librarian, with trendy Web sites and annotations such as:

Alternative Lord of the Rings <www.flin.demon.co.uk/althist/auth.htm> Suppose it had been written by Raymond Chandler? Dylan Thomas? A.A. Milne?

BOPCRIS - British Official Publications Collaborative Reader Information <www.bopcris.ac.uk> Search or browse official British documents from 1688-1995.

Nationwide Artistic Responses to the September 11 Tragedy [National Coalition Against Censorship] <www.ncac.org/projects/art_now/main.html>

Scholarly Electronic Publishing Weblog <info.lib.uh.edu/sepb/sepw.htm> Charles Bailey's useful daily blog monitors journals, listservs, and major projects for new developments in online scholarly communication. You can also access here his complete bibliography on scholarly electronic publishing.

To subscribe, go over to <marylaine.com/neatnew.html> Six months worth of NeatNew are available at the Web site.

6) Search Engine Report
One of the original alerts, the Search Engine Report is in two separate mailouts. One covers the industry, the other covers what's new in Search Engines. Everything that you have ever wanted to know about how to use a search engine properly, with plenty of "compare and contrast" examples. It also provides alternative search strategies for specific needs. Much more material is at the site. Subscribe through <searchenginewatch.com>

7) Browsers.com Update
All you ever wanted to know about your Web browser. CNET will alert you to new browsers and security holes. Subscribe <www.cnet.com/internet/0-3773.html>

8) Spyonit
"Spyonit simplifies life online by helping you stay on top of things. You tell a 'spy' what to watch for on the Internet, and when something changes, it reports back to you wherever you are: by E-mail, instant message, mobile phone or PDA." Subscribe at <www.spyonit.com>

9) The End of Free
"Chronicling free to fee and beyond." Weblog tracks Internet content, services, etc., that have gone fee-based <www.theendoffree.com> 10) The Informant

This free service will do Web searches for you, and E-mail you the results. At a periodic interval you specify, up to 60 days, the Informant uses the Altavista and other engines to find the 10 Web pages that are most relevant to your searches <informant.dartmouth.edu>

10) Yahoo What's New
A daily list of new additions to the Yahoo directory <dir.yahoo.com/new>

For more news alerts by E-mail, try award-winning journalist Bill Dedman's PowerReporting site <www.powerreporting.com>

Dean Tudor, Professor Emeritus in School of Journalism, Ryerson University.
Wines, Beers and Spirits Site: <http://www.ryerson.ca/~dtudor/www.htm>
MegaSources Site: <http://www.ryerson.ca/~dtudor/megasources.htm>


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