October 10th, 1995

Using the Internet to Find Information

10/10/95 RMIUG Meeting Minutes - Using the Internet to Find Information

The 20th RMIUG meeting, October 1995, started at 7:00 with Dan Murray welcoming over 100 people in the audience. This addressed using the Internet to Find Information.

There are currently 961 members of the rmiug-announce, 642 members of the rmiug-discuss, and 467 members on the rmiug-jobs mailing lists.

Announcements from the floor:

  • Art Smoot (aesmoot@aescon.com) is handling the RMIUG library. There are several new books this month and people are encouraged to check out books. Many thanks to O'Reilley and Associates for their generous donations. We are also looking for someone to step up and become the librarian, remember the librarian has first choice of the new books.
  • Dan Murray (dan@rmiug.org) announced the desire of the RMIUG committee to include an addition to the RMIUG web page providing information on Internet training locations. He asked for a volunteer to provide the same service Tom Bresnahan provided when he built the "Tom's Internet Providers List". Alan Fleming volunteered after the meeting to put this list together and publish it on our web page.
  • Randy Holt (rholt@rmiug.org) announced the December meeting as a panel of "expert" members, and how they are connected to the Internet. The idea is to include people using various methods to access the Internet and present a panel discussion to help other members initially connect, or change their connection method. If you are experienced in a personal Internet connection and want to share your experiences with others, please send mail to rholt@rmiug.org.
  • The citizens for Slow Growth announced their web page location. They can be found at "www.slowgrowth.org/slowgrowth"
  • A member announced his delight with a new Java based search engine. This engine searches other search engine databases. Check it out at http://metacrawler.cs.washington.edu:8080/
  • A free Internet newspaper, "Internet news" is now available, and will appear every other Monday with 8,000 copies distributed to 200 high-traffic locations throughout Boulder County. Contact crew33@aol.com or Market2@ix.netcom.com for more information.
  • Dan Murray announced that he is looking for HTML designers to work at Customer Comunications Group.
  • Dan Murray presented the idea list for future RMIUG meetings and asked for suggestions from the members. Immediately following is the list presented followed by the ideas suggested at the meeting. If you see a subject you would like to address, or if there are any ideas you find interesting, please send mail to rmiug-comm@rmiug.org.

    Current Cache of Member Meeting Ideas:
    Elements of Good Web Page Design. speaker: William Horton
    HotJava talk/demo.
    Political/freedom of info/privacy/etc.
    City-oriented Internet Initiatives in Colorado.
    Transactions on the Internet (Visa/MC/Netscape/DigiCash/E-cash,...).
    WWW Search Engines.
    Political Initiatives on the Net.
    CARL on the Internet.
    Education on the Internet.
    Healthcare on the Internet in CO.
    The Spot (www.thespot.com),
    Ideas Brought up at Meeting
    Financial information on the Internet
    How to write HTML
    How to perform legal searches using the Internet
    Legal liability of Internet providers
    News Groups; what they are and how to use them effectively
    How to configure mailboxes
    What browser should I use and which one will be the most popular
    How do copyrights affect what is on the Internet

Dan introduced the first speaker: Susan Brandes - susanb@inedge.com

Susan has her MLS (Masters in Library Science) from DU and her MBA from University of Colorado at Denver. She has twenty years experience as an information professional in medical libraries, and in 1993, founded her own company, InfoEdge. Accessing both commercial databases and Internet resources, she specializes in on-line research covering such topics as market research, competitive intelligence, and business. Susan's presented her information taking the tact of "searching for business intelligence" and how to find information like a company's market data, executive information and import/ export percentages.

Susan offered the following search tips and search engines she finds useful.

  • Know what to spell what you are looking for. You can waste a lot of time if you do not have the exact spelling of a search item
  • Know something about what you are looking for. If you are looking for the Firestone winery it is important to know they are a different company than the tire company.
  • There are some search engines that charge a fee. Some for searches and some for access. Usually the information provided by a fee based search engine is more up-to-date and thorough. You get your money's worth.
  • Keep track of where you have been. If you find a web page that is useful make a hotlist or bookmark entry. Finding it again can be very time consuming. Also keep track of less than useful web pages and don't waste time going there again.
  • Check on the update status of the information. Some web pages are not updated very often and the information presented may be out-dated and misleading.
  • Once you find the geographical location of a company you are researching, look to a local publication for more thorough information. There is usually access to full text newpapers columns available and you will find information not available in national publications.
  • Do not overlook Gophers, FTP sites and newsgroups. There are often real gems

Favorite Search Engines:

Infoseek (http://www.infoseek.com/Home)
Webcrawler (http://www.WebCrawler.com)
Lycos (http://www.lycos.com)
InfoMarket (http://www.infomkt.ibm.com)
WWW Worm (http://www.cs.colorado.edu/home/mcbryan/WWWW.html)
Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com)
Categorical Catapult (http://www.clark.net/pub/cargui/lins.html)
McKinley (http://www.mckinley.com)
WWW Virtual Library: Subject Catalog (http://www.w3.org/hypertext/DataSource/bysubject/Overview.html)
Internet Public Library - Reference Center (http://ipl.sils.umich.edu/
All-IN-ONE (http://www.albany.net/~wcross/all1www.html#WWW)
CUSI (http://web.nexor.co.uk/public/cusi/cusi.html)
Internet exploration Page (http://www.amdahl.com/internet/meta-index.html)
Savvy Search (http://www.cs.colostate.edu/~dreiling/smartform.html)
EasyNet (http://www.telebase.com)

Our second speaker was Debra Davis (dkd@knowbot.com)

Debra Davis is a special librarian by profession, and has worked in the biomedical and business information fields for over 17 years. She redefined her career as a librarian in 1990 when she founded her information retrieval and training business "Knowledge Brokers". Debra describes her relationship with clients as that of an "Intelligent Agent" or "Knowbot": she retrieves information for people who lack the time, expertise, or resources to find it themselves. Debra's philosophy is to "think outside the box", and to be on the cutting edge of information retrieval technology without falling in front of the blade. Debra's presentation was based on a search for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Debra offered the following search tips and search tools.

  • Determine what type of information is needed, a list of experts and possible articles. The time spent off-line will save on-line charges and make the search more efficient.
  • Make sure your search terms are put together efficiently. Looking for information on AIDS; make sure you use capital letters. If you enter the search term "aids" you will receive hundreds of result hits with nothing to do with "AIDS".
  • Check your source quality, and check what is being searched. The quality of the information provided is important when trying to perform an efficient search. If your data turns out to be inaccurate, and you noted the database searched, you will save time during your next search by not using the same database.
  • Most search engines will be easy, time efficient or cost efficient. You can usually pick 2!
  • Frequency of searching is important. Frequent searches results in high skill level using search engines and not a lot of retraining. In-frequent searches result in relearning search techniques and can cost money depending on the search engine.

Medical Material Engines:

Clinical Medicine Resources (Umbrella site U. of Kansas and updated) http://www.kumc.edu/mmatrix
US Dept of Health and Human Services (FDA and Disease control) http://www.os.dhhs.gov
Center for Disease Control http://www.medscape.com
Pharmaceutical Information Network (generic drug search) http://pharminfo.com

Other Medical Resources:

National Library of Medicine 800-638-8480
Knight Ridder 800-334-2564
STN International 800-753-4227
OVID Technologies 800-950-2055

Our third speaker was Barbara Wagner (blwagner@tap.com)

Barbara was trained as a biologist and librarian and has worked in specialized libraries most of her career. In recent years, she has directed the Colorado State Publications Library and the Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 Library. Currently Barbara is the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey Library in Denver. She started her company, The Access Point, in 1981. Barbara has been finding computerized information for over 22 years, and has been exploring the Internet for the past three. Barbara presented general information to making your on-line search more efficient

Plan 2 hours preparation for each hour on-line. Define information wanted: narrow/broader categories. Learn types of sources: Usenet, Sites/Nodes, Specific files and Web Sites. Assess probable payoff from each: match with info. wanted?, current?, valid? What are you looking for: opinion, facts, data, documents - verbatim or summary news. Check Alternative sources, reference book call an expert and check libraries. Decide cost/benefit tradeoffs - how much of your time: what else could you be doing? Out of pocket - dollar cost. Opportunity cost - not doing other work/play

Use search engines: WWW, older tools: e.g. gopher, offbeat sources: e.g. phone books.

Evaluate results
Found what was wanted? Value, Cost

Compare results with library research:
As Robert Runyon said: "A couple of hours on the Internet can frequently save a couple of minutes in the library." [Runyon is Director, University of Nebraska Libraries]

Q&A Panel

Q: Why have more than a couple search engines
A: Data if available to different organization at different prices and is organized differently.

Q: There has to be a better way of identifying what is available on pages
A: Noticing trend of data becoming more organized and indexed

Q: How do you know costs ahead of time
A: Several part answer

  • Some engines are good at identifying costs ahead of time
  • Some systems give cost by output and allow you to decline information
  • Some allow you to manage costs by limiting searches
  • Experience gives best idea of what a search will cost

Q: How worried about credit are you?
A: Usually call ahead of time with Card info.

Q: How about if a customer loses money because of inaccurate or incomplete information
A: Several part answer

  • Usually discussed ahead of time about possibility of error in data provided
  • Disclosure statement up front

A few reasons to use an Information Broker

  • organized, systematic and experienced knowledge base
  • research and analysis for relevancy, organizing & repackaging, delivery in a timely way
  • Usually a free initial consultation, discuss project & plan strategy upon hiring, consultant & client work as partners, and you are in "driver's seat" for cost
  • alternatives - consultant recommends: search strategies, specific sources on topic or consultant teaches how to do research.

RMIUG wishes to thank Internet One of Boulder for sponsoring the refreshments, NIST for the use of their meeting room, and XOR Network Engineering for maintenance of RMIUG's WWW site and email lists.

Suggestions/comments/feedback are always welcome - please email these to rmiug-comm@rmiug.org.

RMIUG has 3 email lists for its members. Send an Email to rmiug@rmiug.org for an auto-reply message with more info ...

We have a "hole" on our schedule, and are scrambling a bit to put together a job hunters panel for our November 14th meeting. This will be geared toward showing people how to find a job using the Internet. If you have any suggestions/comments/questions, pls send this to alek@rmiug.org

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