Study Week Slacking

It being study week and all, it�s time to take a little breather and let our hair down on the BRAIN_blog. With that in mind, we bring you tools for searching for music, memes, means of escape and a few resources thrown in just to up the carefree quotient. [inset photo: all quiet on the e-Library front this week. Kinda lonely in here.]

1) But first�
Before we go all footloose and fancy-free, we just had to mention a great article in the latest issue of the newsletter The Teaching Professor: �Google No More: A Model for Successful Research �. Written from a professor�s point of view, it laments students� dependence on Google as a research tool and encourages the use of the Library and the many quality resources you can find there! Gives me the warm and fuzzies! (Note: log in with your staff number and PIN if accessing this article from off campus.)

2) Meme madness
Yet another new web tool to let you know about�.this one tracks breaking news stories and the latest cultural phenomena. Called meme trackers, these tools are updated very frequently�some, every 5 minutes. I know what you are thinking, �whoa there missy, just what exactly is a meme?� American Heritage Dictionary defines meme as: �A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.� Basically, a meme is a trend that everyone is talking about!

There are many meme trackers on the web. Each tool uses its own combination of algorithms to define a breaking story, er, meme�some use the number of bloggers that are currently discussing the meme, some use the frequency of the meme�s appearance on news web sites. Memes in the area of technology and politics are tracked but some tracking tools include other topics such as health and law. Memeorandum is clearly the best of these sites right now. It tracks technology and politics memes and is a great tool to keep you in-the-know!

Blogrunner is another tracker that is interesting�it tracks only stories from The New York Times. For each breaking story, an annotation of the article and links to blogs that host discussions of the article are noted. The site ranks the stories by how often they are discussed. Stories are grouped by author and topic. Check out the Top Articles Charts to see what stories are the hottest on the web right now. Topics covered include books, philosophy, law, economics and more.

There are lots of these critters on the web so you might want to check out these reviews of meme trackers before you decide on the one that is right for you: The TechCrunch blog and Read/Write Web both feature reviews. Now if these tools don�t give you fodder for all those study week cocktail party conversations then I don�t know what will!

3) More fun with music
A few new music tools online this month! is a new tool that mixes concert listings with music listening�enter a (U.S. only unfortunately at this time) city and see concert listings for that city. Included are MP3 music files for each band that is coming to town.

Wolfgang�s Vault provides a stream of music from 40 years of concert recordings�live and uncut from a huge variety of artists. From the site: �Vault Radio is now playing selected tracks from these concerts in an FM-quality, 128K digital radio stream. Songs will be added to and removed from the radio show on a regular basis.� Also included on the site is a store where you can buy hard-to-find and rare music memorabilia.

And last but not least, you can now search for information on your favourite musician in a quick and easy way using Google. Enter the name of an artist and the word �music� (sometimes works without entering the word �music�) and you�ll get an album cover and a link to further music resources as your first result in your result list. Click on the artist name link and you�ll get an information page with links to sites about the artist, a discography, track listings and links to sites where you can buy tracks. Groovy!

4) Means of escape
Planning a trip for study week? Ever wonder which travel search engine to use? There are lots out there but which one will find you the best fare? This
(free!) report from Consumer Reports reviews the big engines such as Yahoo Farechase, Cheapflights and more! Watch this space for a review of a new travel search engine soon to hit the air waves� flyspy promises to compare across engines and compare fares across dates travelled so you get the cheapest fare from the cheapest source! I get goose bumps just thinking about it!

5) Those other Games
Don�t forget to check out our list of
Olympics resources on TheBRAIN! Go Canada go!

6) More fun and frivolity�
A new site called EgoSurf pumps up or demolishes your ego in a matter of seconds. Type in your web site�s URL and see how many ego points you get! Points are based on how your site ranks in a Google search and how many times your site is linked to from other sites. My ego is positively bursting at the moment as the BRAIN_blog got 5215 points! I have no idea how it all works or if that�s high or low�but does it matter, really? 5215 points! Not that I�m competitive or anything.

7) Francesca�s Digital Dish
This issue, we�re linking you to a site whose goal it is to make information, books and other materials available to the general public in forms that a vast majority of computers, programs and people can easily read, use, quote, and search. Sound useful to you? Well,
Project Gutenberg allows you to search for and read digital documents online, and its all free of charge (ok, some items are listed as �close-to-free� of charge, lol). You may recall that we�ve written about Project Gutenberg in our past posts on e-book collections. Well, enough has changed since then (way back in �04) and PG is such an awesome site, that we just can�t help but tell you even more about it!

The digital items on PG are divided into three categories:

  • Light Literature, such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Aesop�s Fables, etc.
  • Heavy Literature, such as the Bible or other religious documents, Shakespeare, Paradise Lost, etc.
  • References, such as Roget�s Thesaurus, encyclopedia, dictionaries, etc.

Project Gutenberg�s simple layout and presentation of information are perfect if you�ve not yet reached the level of digital research expert. But you�ll get there, with our help of course!

Also, as promised, today we�ll talk a little about using expanders to enhance your BRAIN digital magazine/journal/newspaper database searches. Expanders let you broaden the scope of your search. If you find you�re not getting enough results, or no results at all, expanders widen your search to include words related to your keywords or include the actual text of the full text results in your search. Expanders appear below the Refine Search sub-tab and can include the following:

  • Also Search for related words – Select this option to expand results to include the synonyms and plurals of your terms.
  • Search within full text articles – Select this option to search for your keywords within the full text of articles, as well as abstract and citation information. This applies only to words not qualified by a field code.
  • Include all search terms by default – Select this option to search for all terms you entered, in any order within the text. Your terms are automatically “anded” together. If you surround terms with quotation marks, the phrase within the quotation marks is treated as one term.

To create a search using an expander, in the Find field, enter your search terms.
Select the expander you want to use from the Expand Your Search section of the Refine Search sub-tab. Click Search. The Result List appears. Happy searching!

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