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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ALEC on Homeland Security
The American Legislative Exchange Council has launched a page of Homeland Security legislative actions taken by each of the fifty states. This summary can be reached from ALEC’s homepage at http://www.alec.org/, or by going
directly to the site at http://www.alec.org/viewpage.cfm?pgname=4.292.
In addition to anti- and bio-terrorism, topics include hazardous material, electronic surveillance, cyber-security and more. I clicked on transportation and was greeted with the option to have an Excel file downloaded on my machine. Columns on the table include State, Bill, Sponsor, Summary and Status notations with dates.
Some states start with actions to secure appropriations, while others go straight for the nitty-gritty. Florida is looking at revising laws relating to the safety of its highways and seaports. New Jersey, Massachusetts and others
are focusing on protecting air travelers with such actions as running criminal checks on employees and permitting aeronautic offices to carry firearms.
e-Gov FirstStop, at http://www2.ctg.albany.edu/egovfirststop/, provides
information resources needed to begin e-government initiatives. The University of Albany’s Center for Technology in Government sponsors the resource list which focuses on three subject areas: policy, strategy and technology aspects. (There are also “General” and “Pending” sections which deal with general and pending issues as you might have guessed.) Only resources that are available via the Web at no charge are referenced on this site.
The Strategy Focus Area addresses the overall approach of an e-gov project and such strategies as performance goals, implementation frameworks and leadership. The Policy Area explores the issues an initiative may have on public policy, like balancing rights and legal questions. And the Technology area provides information on models and strategies to implement government online.
This is an interesting resource, not heavily populated, but worthwhile materials are here. One tip: for a description of the resource, click on the title. For the resource itself (I saw both direct links and PDF files) click on the icon to the left of the title.
EDRI stands for the European Digital Rights. It’s a group of 10 organizations from 7 EU countries focusing on the protecting European civil rights in today’s information and communications age. Their URL is http://www.edri.org/.
There’s not much available here yet. You can learn more about the board and about the organizations behind the site. Visitors are offered two subscription options: one to receive news and announcements and one to join an un-moderated discussion list.
Study Gives Online Campaign Edge to GOP
U.S. Newswire: June 10, 2002. A study by The Bivings Group finds the GOP challengers for Federal offices are using the Internet more than the Democratic challengers. The study evaluated Web sites of more than 1000 Congressional
candidates and scored content and visibility on each site.
The study also reported Republican campaign committees were 20% more likely to have Web appearances, and it was 33% easier to locate the Web site of a Republican challenger. As for content, the GOP challengers were more likely to offer contact details, give volunteering information and accept donations. http://www.usnewswire.com/topnews/first/0610-143.html
(NOTE: Please, no pies from the Dem’s who read this. We just reports ’em, we don’t necessarily agrees with ’em.)
Web Conference Debates Records Management
TechNews.com: May 28, 2002. One of the “hot- button issues” at this year’s National Archives and Records Administration Conference was which parts of an agency’s Web site should be considered federal records. Other issues at
the May meeting of FebWeb 2002 were the Government Paperwork Elimination Act and security requirements.
According to the deputy director of NARA’ s Modern Records Program, both site and back-end information constitutes official records and are subject to retention and disposition guidelines. Another panel member felt paper documents (ie, Federal Register) entries were not public records and a third panel member stated that all electronic documents on the site she manages are federal records. Consensus was not reached. Get the full story at
AltaFresh — Query Recent Additions to AltaVista
AltaVista’s been talking a lot lately about making their search index fresher and tapping new sources to build their index. I talked to them some about this last week. While they have very nice date-based searching on their advanced
search, I wanted more. Why not, I asked, have an interface that allowed you to choose today or yesterday from a pull- down menu and get a very small group of search results?
Well, they don’t have that so I wrote one. Try it out. http://www.researchbuzz.com/toolbox/altafresh.shtml.
GooFresh — Query Recent Additions to Google
Meanwhile, Google does not support their daterange: syntax and their advanced search allows you to search only pages indexed within the past three months, past six months, or past year. But I’m obsessed with the daterange: syntax so I wrote a date-based search form for Google too. Try it out at http://www.researchbuzz.com/toolbox/goofresh.shtml.
AltaVista Launches New Search Engine Features
AltaVista (http://www.av.com) has launched several new tweaks, features, and upgrades to their search engine. And, as usual, the one they’re making the most noise about isn’t the one that’s really captured my interest.
But we’ll start with that one anyway. The new feature they’re talking so much about is called AltaVista Prisma. It’s sorta like clustering technology and sorta like refining suggestions, but not really either. Here’s how it works: enter a query. AltaVista “AltaVista Prisma instantly scans through the text of the most relevant Internet search results to select the 12 most strongly associated words, phrases, names or concepts, called ‘AltaVista Prisma terms'” No more than a dozen are available at a time.
Pick one, and it’s added to your query and another set of Prisma results is added. You can select from Prisma results twice, and it doesn’t matter how general you are. Thus, whether I do a search for something as general as cat —
>kitten–>rescues, I still only get two sets of Prismas, just as if I did something as specific “neural tube”–>Spina Bifida–> fetal surgery. I think that’s a mistake. I think there should be varying levels of Prismas available.
I think there should also be Prisma “stop words” that don’t show up, since there are only twelve results delivered at a time. Some of the Prismas are great, very useful, but some of them are not. Take for example the “neural tube” search. Some of the Prismas, like Anencephaly, are very helpful. But
So that’s AltaVista Prisma. But what am *I* finding interesting with the new AltaVista? They’re finally offering default AND. No OR or AND based on how many query words you’re using and all that stuff. Default query is AND and
that’s it. Thank goodness. Unfortunately case-sensitivity remains a bit complicated.
Here’s the summary on case-sensitivity: items in quotes are case-sensitive (where there is a case; all lower-case still matches everything.) Items not in quotes are not case sensitive. So:
Washington — not case sensitive
“Washington” — case sensitive
Also new from AltaVista — an updated index of over 1.1 billion items (AltaVista does not index other types of files, like PDF files), updated AltaVista news, a “freshnessinitiative” (more about that tomorrow) and an AltaVista Webmaster page at http://www.altavista.com/webmaster.
EngineHawk News Search Engine In Standalone Flavor
Due to popular request, a standalone version of EngineHawk (that doesn’t require Perl) is available at: http://www.researchbuzz.com/toolbox/enginehawk.zip. It’s zipped up.
Instructions on using it are at
Please let me know how you like it, what you’d like to see in the future, etc. If you want a copy of the code so you can tweak it and do Cool Things you can grab it at http://www.researchbuzz.com/toolbox/enginehawk.txt.