Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Aggregation and the researchers of the future

One of the frustrating things about doing research and teaching involving Google is that Google changes all the time.  I remember teaching a class about search skills, and explaining the concept of stop words.  Fortunately I tried a few out on Google before the class and was surprised to discover that Google will now search for pretty well anything that's entered in it.  Enter the word "the", and Times Higher Education Supplement tops the list.  Try "and" or "by" and you'll get dictionary entries.  "A" gives a Wikipedia entry on the first letter of the alphabet, and "at" gives another Wikipedia entry on the country code for Austria.

Robert Villa's introduction to aggregated searches drew attention to yet another development in the world of search engines.   I was interested to learn that click-through rate for images remains the same wherever they are on the page.  This will, I'm sure, be of interest to advertisers and I'm sure it's just a matter of time before sponsored links come with images.

Liz Brewster revealed to us all that she is a Generation Y researcher.  Discussion followed on who used what technologies and why.  There were one or two mutterings of surprise when I revealed that I rarely use bookmarks (and so have no need for Delicious).  Surprise turned to shock when three of the twelve people present revealed that they did not use Facebook. 

Next month's discussion will focus on research methodologies, particularly those used by Father Brown and Dr Hood in G.K. Chesterton's "The Absence of Mr Glass".

Hope to see you on 9 June

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