Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Google Books Options (Was: Disappearing cities)

Posting to Autocat

On Wed, 29 Sep 2010 11:36:48 -0500, Ted P Gemberling wrote:
>I thought that was an interesting example of how keyword searching keeps one "stuck in the box" of individual character strings. Actually, I think it shows the need for controlled vocabulary. David Weinberger (in Everything is miscellaneous) thinks that keyword searching liberates us from structured search systems, but in reality, it puts us in a different box. Our new "box" is not the subject heading system we're using, but the text strings of our language. If you do a subject search in the SAF, you'll find that Sunrise, Florida has been set up as a heading since 1983. If you use LCSH, you're not going to confuse Sunrise with Sarasota.
>I'm not saying that we should stop doing keyword searches on Google. But as Karen suggested, libraries are the place to go if we can't find information that way.
I agree. There are many traditional tools that would be highly useful to the new services such as Google. In a lot of ways, Google admits this now, with the additional methods of refining the search that you find in the left-hand column, by dates, sites with images, shopping, and that eerie Wonder Wheel, which I find completely baffling!

Incidentally, I discovered something new in Google Books I haven't seen mentioned anywhere. If you do a search for e.g. the Venerable Bede:,bkv:f,sbd:1&prmd=b&source=lnt&sa=X and look down the left hand column, you will see the subjects extracted from what appears to be the metadata appended to the records, in this case, we can see what looks to be our subjects, e.g. Great Britain/ History/ Anglo Saxon period, 449-1066, and are perhaps BISAC descriptors, e.g. Gift books. When you click on one of these, it refines your original search, "venerable bede" by that term, e.g. venerable bede --> cathedrals. But if you click from within that set of records, e.g. into "Education", it appears to give you not venerable bede --> cathedrals --> education, but venerable bede --> education. Of course, I keep saying "appears" because I am not sure at the moment.

In this way, it seems they are creating a Worldcat-type interface, although so far it is only with subjects. It also doesn't work completely in every display, and the results are strange, e.g. a search for "julius caesar" provides only the subjects: drama, fiction, literary criticism. But if you limit it to "full view" (we can see much less full view in italy than in the U.S.), the subjects switch to: gaul, great britain, rome. But if you limit to "preview and full view" you get: drama, fiction, history, literary criticism.

Rather incoherent at the moment.

Also, the url for Google Books was always Although this still works, you are switched over to a new url:

I just noticed this yesterday.

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