The search for quality

Information Today publishes a range of journals, newsletters, books and blogs in the information space, including a wealth of online content. Here we bring you recent highlights that you may have missed first time round.

Search engines on the front pages

In Search quality, content farms and conspiracy theories, Paula J Hane reflects on the recent media coverage that has seen the quality (or lack of it) of search engine results become a news story.  The stories, including this one about how negative reviews actually helped a retailer rise in Google research results, and the expose of JC Penney's SEO practices (both published in the New York Times) ensured that Google would attempt to make positive changes to its search algorithms.  Google has also stated its intent to push 'content farmed' content down results pages.  Google's attempts to improve search results are not without challenges, as highlighted by SearchEngineWatch. Google acknowledges it is still a work in progress.  Meanwhile other search engines, Paula writes, are working on the spam/quality problem too, including DuckDuckGo and blekko.

Blekko is subject to a more detailed exploration by Greg R Notess in Blekko: a new search approach.  Greg explains why he thinks Blekko, which offers rich sources of data about ranking, is a fascinating resource for professional searchers.  He outlines blekko's search features and recommends spending time on the site to fully understand its capabilities and its potential uses at work. 

Conferences by proxy

Most of us, being time- and budget-pressed individuals, are usually able to attend only a small proportion of the professional conferences and networking events that are on offer around the world.  We rely on our trusted networks and resources to help keep us informed and bring us the highlights.  In his excellent Conference Circuit blog, Don Hawkins reports directly from conferences and interviews speakers, exhibitors and delegates to bring the best of the event to his readers. 

In February, for example, Don was able to hear Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine speaking at the TOC (Tools of Change for Publishing) 2011 conference.  Kelly's presentation on key trends in the publishing industry is summarised clearly by Don here.  Margaret Atwood, the author of dystopian novel The Handmaiden's Tale, also addressed the sell-out conference, giving an author's eye view of the state of publishing.  Other fascinating papers at the conference and summarised by Don, cover new publishing models; innovation; ‘reading revolutions'; accessibility.  Don summarises the entire conference in this article. 

More recently, along with about 150 delegates, the Conference Circuit has been covering the Personal Digital Archiving conference in San Francisco.  Topics covered include the preservation of family digital records; personal archiving in academia; the economics of personal data; user behaviour and image capture and data liberation. 

Don's next stop will be Washington DC for Computers in Libraries 2011, which you can follow on his blog and on Twitter (#CIL11).

Conferences in person

Of course, one assured way of attending a professional conference for free is to be a speaker!  The call for speakers at Internet Librarian International is outlined in detail here

Image courtesy of Olarte.Ollie via Flickr