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browsable lists

Browsable Lists

Collections of Internet resources supplement and compliment Internet indexes: Yahoo, A2Z, WWW Virtual Library, etc.

Subject-based, hierarchial collections of Internet resources have a number of advantages over searchable indexes.

First of all, the end-user does not have to mentally articulate any sort of information need; they do not have to know what they are look for in order to find something. Second, the end-user does not have to know any sort of searching syntax. All they have to do select items from the screen. Third, browsable collections offer the ability to see the entire collection at a glance and it is very easy to find "other items like this one." Finally, browsable lists are easy to construct since they require little technology to create. Anybody can do it, and almost everybody does.

But there are a number of disadvantages as well. Browsable lists assume an underlying classification scheme. These classification schemes represent conceptual models of information/knowledge that may or may not fit the end-user's conceptual model. Consequently, browsable lists may force end-user's into a framework they don't understand. Furthermore, these conceptual models must be flexible enough to accommodate the addition of new ideas but at the same time the models must be formalized enough to be consistent. The models must be dynamic and thus any model time limited.

The items below describe and list collections of browsable Internet resources. Of particular interest are the items by Duda, Notess, INFOMINE, the Argus Clearinghouse, and the Librarians' Index to the Internet since these items speak more to the academic subject listings.

BROWSABLE LISTS

Title: C&RL NewsNet Internet Resources
Remote HTML
Description: This is a list of Internet subject guides regularly published in College & Research Library News since June of '96. The Internet resources from these columns, chosen by subject experts, could easily form the basis of any college or university's collection of Internet links.

Title: Excite
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Ease of use: Easy
Data types: HTML files; news; USENET newsgroup posting;
Search features: phrase searching; Boolean logic; relevance ranking; "concept extraction";
Description: Excite's search engine is much like everybody else's. Its power search form simply spells out the search features on a more descriptive manner. The features include phrase searching, Boolean logic, and relevance ranking. Excite uses the same "concept extraction" technique of locating documents a Magellan becauase Magellan is owned by Excite. The site also hosts pointers to other search engines as well as collections of Internet resources on popular subjects.

Title: Hotbot
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Ease of use: Easy
Data types: HTML files; image files; sounds; USENET newsgroup posting;
Search features: date ranges; field searching; phrase searching; Boolean logic; domain;
Description: HotBot uses an almost purely forms-driven interface to its search engine. A unique feature of HotBot is its ability to select a wide range to Internet media types to seek. For example, it includes: Image, Java, Acrobat, audio, JavaSript, VB Script, Video, ActiveX, Shockwave, VRML. Some these media types can be located in other services through the command line, but not all. HobBot also provides access to a number of specialized databases on the subjects of USENET, top news sites, classified ads, domain names, stocks, discussion groups, shareware, businesses, people, email addresses. HotBots browsable lists of Internet resources merely points to Wired's Cybrarian <URL:http://www.wired.com/cybrarian/frame/tech/web.html>. While HotBot has a lot of features, feel a bit out of control when I am limited to only a forms interface.

Title: INFOMINE
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Description: "INFOMINE is intended for the introduction and use of Internet/Web resources of relevance to faculty, students, and research staff at the university level. It is being offered as a comprehensive showcase, virtual library and reference tool containing highly useful Internet/Web resources including databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, listservs, online library card catalogs, articles and directories of researchers, among many other types of information."

Title: Infoseek
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Ease of use: Easy
Data types: HTML files; news; USENET newsgroup posting;
Search features: phrase searching; Boolean logic; relevance ranking; domain; field searching;
Description: This site does not have "power" search feature, nor does it have complicated forms interface for completing queries. All queries are from a simple command line. The command line supports the usual suspects: Boolean operations, phrase searching, and a few field searches. Its collection of Internet resources looks just like everybody else's too. The only difference is they publish a collection policy; "Infoseek Select sites are chosen by our editors from the index based on their editorial value, traffic and the number of links to the sites." Like Yahoo, once you are browsing a particular subject area you can use the searching mechanisms to find resoruces from that area.

Title: Librarians' Index to the Internet
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Description: "The Librarians' Index to the Internet is a searchable, annotated, subject directory of close to 3,000 Internet resources chosen for their usefulness to the public library user's information needs." Originaly developed by a librarian, Carole Leita, this site has grown from a gopher bookmake file into what it is today. If you're nice to her, then maybe she will give you her Perl scripts and you can start your own collection.

Title: Lycos
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Ease of use: Easy
Data types: HTML files; sounds; image files; bibliographic citations;
Search features: phrase searching; Boolean logic; natural language;
Description: Starting out in academia (Carnegie Mellon University) and then going commerical, Lycos is the grand daddy of the Internet search engines. It is also the service that really built a name for itself by rating sites as the "Top 5%" and awarding sites the distinction of displaying the Top %5 badge. The serivce's search features rely greatly on variations of phrase searching, but the service also has a reputation of locating more hits than the other services. As evidenced by a visit to its home page, Lycos is becoming more and more like commercial serivce offering more than simple Internet searching and advertisements. Lycos also offers search links to Barnes and Noble as well as UPS. Obviously, this service is thinking the bigger picture and is quickly leaving academia behind.

Title: Yahoo
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Description: This is the most reconized of the browsable collections of resources. Surely its collection seems to be one of the largest catoring to popular culture as well as many academic needs. What more needs to be said?

Author: A2Z
Title: Sites from A2Z
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Description: This site, in my opinion, is well-designed if you have a particularly fast network connection. It is one of the older collections based on one of the grand daddies of Internet search engines, Lycos. Like is other commerical brethren, this service divides it resources amoung popular culture as well as more academic needs. What every happened to Dewey?

Author: Aldea Communications
Title: InterNIC Academic Guide to the Internet
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Ease of use: Easy
Data types: HTML files;
Description: "The InterNIC Academic Guide to the Internet is the Internet guide created especially for the higher education community. Our mission is to develop the primary Internet resource of and for the research and academic community."

This is an organized collection of Internet resources chosen for the academic community. The collection surrounds the sciences rather than the humanties. Each resource is accompanied with text and icons describing the content. The service is indexed with Harvest and provides opportunities for user commentary.

Author: Argus Associates
Title: Argus Clearinghouse
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Ease of use: Easy
Data types: HTML files;
Description: The Argus Clearinghouse started out in a classroom of the Library and Information Studies school of the University of Michigan. It was here that Lou Rosenfeld assigned students the task of organizing Internet resources into study aids. The collections he and his students created became quite popular for their thoroughness and focus.

Since then the Argus Clearinghouse has become a commerical enterprise specializing in authoritative resource guides. The guides are intended to be academic in nature and (for the most part) up-to-date. If you have a specific topic of interest and that topic is listed at the Clearinghouse, then you will have a head start on locating the information you seek.

Author: Duda, Andrea L. editor
Title: Untangling the Web
Remote HTML
Description: This is a "Proceedings of the Conference Sponsored by the Librarians Association of the University of California, Santa Barbara and Friends of the UCSB Library" from April 26, 1996 University Center, University of California, Santa Barbara. The linked abstracts and papers describe all aspects of World Wide Web developement in a library setting. Of particluar interest are "Yahoo! Cataloging the Web" by Anne Callery, "Spinning a Web Search" by Mark Lager, and "Spiders and Worms and Crawlers, Oh My: Searching on the World Wide Web" by Ann Eagan and Laura Bender.

Author: Louisiana State University Libraries
Title: Webliography: A Guide to Internet Resources
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Description: This is a list of Internet resouces organized by academic subjects: business, engineering, government, humanities, science, social science, reference. The business, government, and humanities listings have the Argus Clearinghouse "seal of approval." What is exciting about this site is that it demonstrates that you do not have to have the largest of physical collections or budgets to create significant collections of Internet resources.

Author: McKinley Group, Inc.
Title: Magellan
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Ease of use: Easy
Data types: HTML files;
Search features: Boolean logic; nested queries; phrase searching; relevance ranking; "concept extraction";
Description: The strength of this service lies in its Internet reviews. Using a 4 point scale, Magellan reviews Internet sites and ranks them in subject lists accordingly. Unfortunately, we don't know what their "collection management" policy is, so we can not determine how or why they have picked particluar items for the collection nor what they look for in particular resources. The search engine itself is divided into three parts: reviews, entire web, "green light". When you select reviews you only search the reviews. When you select the entire web, you search that. The green lights section are items that have been deemed appropriate for children. An uncommon feature of this service is its "concept extraction." This is billed as a sort of controlled vocabulary/thesarus that locates items on "senior citizens" when you search for "elderly people." Again, Magellan does not describe how this works, so you have to take their word for it. Literally.

Author: Munson, Kurt I.
Title: World Wide Web indexes and hierarchical lists: finding tools for the Internet.
Citation: Computers in Libraries ISSN:1041-7915 June 1996, v16, n6, p54(4)
Description: Indexes and hierarchical lists are two types of search tools for locating information on the World Wide Web and other Internet resources. Indexes, such as Lycos and Open Text, provide access to records by matching search terms against descriptive cataloging. Hierarchical lists, such as Yahoo!, use descriptive and subject cataloging to group common resources by location.

Author: Notess, Greg
Title: Search Engines Showdown
Remote HTML
Description: "This site summarizes, reviews, and compares the search features and database scope of the Internet search engines and finding aids." It does this by dividing its content to the following nine parts: search engines, directories, multi-search, USENET & others, strategies, statistics, reviews, definitions, and bibliography. The bibliography alone is worth the price of admission.

Author: Secret, Arthur
Title: WWW Virtual Library
Remote HTML
Cost: 0
Description: Here you will find a simple, flat, alphabetical list of 10's, if not 100's of subjects. For the most part, the subjects are academic in nature and represent collections of Internet resources. Each collection is loosely maintained by volunteers iwho are subject experts but not necessarily information specialists. This is not a bad place to consider looking for subject guides when begining an Internet search.


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