Goodness, gracious, there are great gobs of new e-resource developments to report on (as Jerry Lee Lewis was wont to say.) Without further adieu, we have reports on: 1) new stuff in EBSCOhost, 2) Wikipedia news, 3) Metacritic.com, 4) Loomia.com and 5) PCMagazine’s free software roundup.
1) Gobs of new stuff in EBSCOhost
There are lots of new and exciting features in EBSCOhost (the Library�s collection of online magazines and journals)! Check out these juicy tidbits of e-resource goodness:
1. Visual search: If you are a visual learning junkie then this search interface is for you! Click on the Visual Search tab at the top of the screen to initiate a search. Then throw in your keywords. And voila: a colourful diagram appears with key concepts illustrated. Just look at those pretty spring time colours! Click on the concept map to see further images of the articles. Too dandy for mere words (so check out the screencap below…click on the image to view a larger version.)
2. Helpful hints: After performing a search, helpful words appear in a sidebar next to your results. Click on a word to include this word in your search�this will narrow your search. (Your previous search appears as a link in the top left corner in brackets in case you want to return to it.) This is great if your results number in the hundreds and you need to bring them down a notch.
3. Translate the whole interface! Not only can you now translate a document into another language on the fly, but you can also translate the whole interface! Yes, it�s true. Choose from a wide variety of languages including French, Spanish, German, Turkish and some I couldn�t even recognize! Can�t speak another language? Go ahead anyway! Fun times await!
4. RSS feeds for saved alerts: Now when you set up an alert for a search or a journal title, you can also create an RSS feed for this alert. The RSS feed link is generated automatically by EBSCOhost and all you have to do is paste the URL into your RSS reader! More information about this fab new service. Need a refresher on how to set up alerts? Check out this quick movie (requires Flash): How to set up an alert in EBSCOhost
2) What�s up with Wikipedia?
There has been a lot of debate lately about the accuracy of the articles in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. In case you haven�t heard, Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone with access to an Internet-connected computer can edit, simply by clicking the edit this page link (with a few minor exceptions such as protected articles). Currently it contains 1,060,664 articles. (See more information.) It really is an amazing idea in action!
In December, an article was published in the esteemed journal Nature that compared the accuracy of respected resource Encyclopedia Britannica to Wikipedia. Independent experts were sent 50 unattributed articles from both Wikipedia and Britannica, and the journal claimed that Britannica turned up 123 “errors” to Wikipedia’s 162. This certainly made the education community scratch their collective head for a moment. Well, on March 28, Encyclopedia Britannica responded to the Nature report with a claim that Nature�s research was faulty�well actually they used the words �fatally flawed�. Encyclopedia Britannica states: �Almost everything about the journal�s investigation, from the criteria for identifying inaccuracies to the discrepancy between the article text and its headline, was wrong and misleading.�
This is all very fascinating, no? But it also confirms what we first thought� that while Wikipedia contains many comprehensive and accurate entries, it�s safer to use it for personal rather than school or professional research. We librarians are always nattering on about how you must evaluate the information you find on the Internet to ensure it is accurate and authoritative. (Don�t worry, I won�t go on�I can just picture your eyeballs glazing over, dear reader.) However, there are certain sources that we believed we could trust, Nature being one of them. While the debate still rages about who is right and who is wrong, this story does point to the fact that we should be wary of any research when a bias might be involved. Okay, I�ll get off my soapbox now. Ahem.
3) Best Unknown Database Recognized!
The information services company Information Today yearly recognizes the best unknown database with their BUDDIE award. This year�s winner was announced and it is Metacritic.com! I had never heard of this database before so it definitely fit that part of the award criteria. After taking a gander, I realized why it is also the best unknown out there! Looking for a review of a movie before hitting the cinema? A review of a book? Or perhaps music? Then, Metacritic is your site! Where has this site been all of our lives, I ask? Metacritic aggregates criticism of film, music, TV, books, and games from hundreds of Web sites.
More information about this great resource from the award citation:
�The pre-eminent criterion for any aggregated database is its content. On this measure, Metacritic is unsurpassed. It gathers reviews from hundreds of respected and authoritative Web sites, including prominent newspapers (Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and dozens of other dailies), general magazines (Entertainment Weekly, New Republic, The New Yorker, Newsweek, TIME), Web journals (The Onion, Slate, Salon.com), and dozens of special-interest publications, including Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and many gamer magazines. Most of the reviews are full text. Those not available in full text have informative abstracts.� Worth a gander!
4) Cast about for �casts
A new tool to search for videocasts and podcasts has hit the web. Loomia is a search engine for these new formats and also allows you (with free registration) to keep track of and tag your favourite �casts and share them with others. Check out �the most popular audio today� column for some interesting audio, search all available content or browse the colourful and lively categories! Hours of blissful entertainment at your fingertips!
5) There is such a thing as a free lunch, or free software, anyway
Last month, PC Magazine released their annual review of free software. Some of the highlights: Skype lets you make free long distance phone calls on your computer, PDF Creator allows you to create PDF documents without the expensive software, Audacity lets you record your voice using your computer (think: podcast), and more. Looking for something in particular? See PC Magazines� full list of free and shareware downloads. Something for the whole family!