JiscMail Logo
Email discussion lists for the UK Education and Research communities

Help for WRITING-AND-THE-DIGITAL-LIFE Archives


WRITING-AND-THE-DIGITAL-LIFE Archives

WRITING-AND-THE-DIGITAL-LIFE Archives


WRITING-AND-THE-DIGITAL-LIFE@JISCMAIL.AC.UK


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

WRITING-AND-THE-DIGITAL-LIFE Home

WRITING-AND-THE-DIGITAL-LIFE Home

WRITING-AND-THE-DIGITAL-LIFE  September 2005

WRITING-AND-THE-DIGITAL-LIFE September 2005

Options

Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password

Subject:

Re: googling WDL blog, the dangers of Google

From:

Sue Thomas <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 19 Sep 2005 13:04:55 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (267 lines)

Hi George
The blog is completely public and widely publicised.  The signing in
is for those who are actually on the writing team, like yourself, who
need to log on to the admin interface to create posts.
best
Sue


On 19/09/05, George P.Landow <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Since this is a private group blog that requires members to sign in,
> why would we want it to be easy to find on Google?
> 
> gpl
> 
> On Sep 19, 2005, at 6:04 AM, Millie Niss wrote:
> 
> > I have twice in recent days (since I just moved between my two homes,
> > and
> > don't have access yet to my old internet bookmarks and old mail)
> > Googled the
> > WDL blog to try to find it.  I was alarmed to discover that it is
> > quite hard
> > to find the blog on Google.  The first few results (if one gives search
> > terms such as "thomas", "digital" and so forth in addition to "WDL",
> > which
> > has many other meanings) are references to the blog, but most are from
> > discussions of the blog before it ever existed, so they do not lead to
> > the
> > blog's address.  The correct blog link is somewhere well down on the
> > list,
> > and is only there at all with certain choices of search terms (I had
> > to try
> > several to find the right ones).
> >
> > I don't know if Sue can do anything to make the blog easier to find on
> > Google -- as you know, getting good search engine results for sites is
> > now
> > an entire profession although the tricky part is supposed to be making
> > the
> > client's website come up at the top when relevant general categories
> > are
> > searched; it is really unfortunate that searching for the site by its
> > actual
> > name doesn't work very well...  But aside from what my experience means
> > about marketing the WDL blog, it is worthwhile to consider that Google,
> > usually much-praised for good reason -- may be the weak link in the
> > web's
> > status as a useful and reliable research tool.
> >
> > If the only way -- or at least the usual way -- to find anything on
> > the web
> > is to Google it, sites which are not easy to Google can simply become
> > lost
> > on the web.  Not only won't they get new visitors who find them through
> > Googling, they will slowly lose their old visitors because people will
> > forget to bookmark the site and then will be unable to find it again
> > when
> > they want it.  This is bad enough when you know the site exists and
> > know
> > many details about it, but in that case you can start asking around
> > for the
> > URL and searching in cleverer ways so you could find the site again,
> > but if
> > someone puts up a valuable and excellent web site that isn't widely
> > marketed, people will not discover it if Google doesn't lead them to
> > it.
> >
> > This problem wasn't quite as bad when there was more competition in the
> > search engine market, so that if Google didn't lead you to the site, at
> > least the people who used some other search engine might get there,
> > and many
> > people even used multiple search engines for the same search to get
> > wider
> > results, but now Google is completely dominant and many other
> > apparently
> > distinct search sites are actually "powered by Google" so they won't
> > give
> > unique results.
> >
> > I don't blame Google for this state of things -- it is understandable
> > for
> > them to try to beat their competition and they actually do provide a
> > better
> > service than most other search engines (and they aren't known for
> > eliminating their competition in dishonest and/or unfair ways, the way
> > Microsoft does), but I think it could become a really bad problem,
> > especially regarding use of the web for academic and other serious
> > research
> > purposes.  Too often, a web search forms the primary basis of initial
> > research, even published research in journals, so that someone could
> > conceivably write a survey article on something that completely omits a
> > major point of view or even a major set of facts, if the omitted
> > material
> > isn't easily accessible by Google.
> >
> > If the researcher were instead to use a library, subject-specific
> > databases
> > on CD ROM, indexes to periodicals, actual journals and their indices,
> > published collections of abstracts, and so forth they would be much
> > less
> > likely to miss something major because those sources of data have
> > systematic
> > indexing systems designed by librarians (even if the index seems much
> > less
> > flexible than a computer search) and are also edited by human beings
> > so as
> > not to omit things.  (The academic field I studied was math.  In math,
> > there
> > is a monthly publication called "Current Math Publications" and it
> > lists
> > every paper in many journals, so that if you search the CMP index, you
> > will
> > find every paper on the your topic, not just the ones which happen to
> > accrete to search terms on Google by the secret algorithms of the
> > Google
> > webspiders.)
> >
> > I really fear that there will be an increasing number of "literature
> > survey
> > articles" or even supposedly scientific "meta-analyses" which purport
> > to
> > draw conclusions about an actual subject (not just about the state of
> > the
> > literature that is on the web about a subject) by analyzing what all
> > the
> > different papers one finds on the web say about the subject.  For
> > example,
> > there is a respected tradition of "meta analyses" in the medical
> > research
> > literature, where all the studies ever done on a certain subject are
> > collected and the results are presented in aggregate, generally with
> > some
> > statistical methods which are supposed to measure how reliable the
> > results
> > are and weight better or bigger studies more heavily in the analysis
> > and so
> > forth.
> >
> > Hopefully the mathematics improves the quality of the results, but
> > clearly a
> > simple minded meta analysis could yield truly worthless results.
> > Suppose one
> > did a meta analysis of whether internet use causes insanity.  The meta
> > analysis collects a bunch of published studies on this topic.  One
> > study
> > might be a randomized clinical trial in which a well-balanced sample of
> > 10,000 random people was compiled, and each person's amount of
> > internet use
> > was correlated with their reported episodes of mental illness and also
> > with
> > the results of a standardized psychiatric examination.  A second study
> > might
> > be a study of 10 psychotic murderers (out of a bigger group of 30
> > psychotic
> > murderers where the 10 were the ones who consented to be interviewed)
> > whom
> > an untrained investigator has asked whether or not they liked to go
> > online
> > before committing their crimes.
> >
> > The simpleminded meta alanysis would try to make a standard coding for
> > all
> > the studies (all two of them in my example) and would consider that the
> > aggregate results of the studies was equivalent to a single larger
> > study of
> > the total number of subjects (10,010 in our example).  Of course in our
> > example the two studies are not at all comparable -- even though they
> > purport to answer the same question.  Our results would not be total
> > garbage
> > only because the second, much less reliable study used many fewer
> > subjects,
> > so it counts for less in the final statistics.  But the result of the
> > meta-analysis would be substantially LESS reliable than the results of
> > the
> > better study.  (Note that the 10 psychotic murderers would mess up the
> > results more than proportionally to their number, because they are
> > cases of
> > actual insanity and many of them may have been internet users -- as
> > many
> > people in any sample are -- whereas out of the 10,000 people there
> > would be
> > maybe 100 psychotic people and perhaps no people AS psychotic as the
> > psychotic murdereres, and the study method would also fail to identify
> > many
> > people who really were psychotic despite being well-designed.)
> >
> > Thus we can see that a simpleminded meta analysis will give very lousy
> > results.  But a respectable meta-analysis has a systematic way off
> > compiling
> > the studies it uses, for example every study published in every issue
> > of a
> > large group of journals during a fiuxed time period is included.  It is
> > hoped that by looking only at (supposedly) reliable sources for the
> > studies,
> > and then by including all of them that meet the set criteria, one
> > exercises
> > some quality control over the studies and does not omit important
> > results,
> > and also it is thought that problems with one study that alter the
> > results
> > in one direction will be balanced out by errors in other studies that
> > cause
> > an opposite bias.  I find the whole process to be rather suspect and
> > can see
> > a lot to criticize in it, but the point is that there is an accepted
> > methodology for doing these meta analyses, and it tries to address all
> > the
> > major problems with the process.
> >
> > Now imagine that the meta analysis gets all the studies it uses by a
> > Google
> > search.  You can immediately see that there will be big problems if
> > Google
> > leaves out a lot of important stuff, overrepresents other things, and
> > so
> > forth.  The method I am describing (especially using Google) sounds so
> > terrible that it may be hard to believe that anyone would consider it
> > to be
> > a valid type of medical research, but unfortunately this is really the
> > case,
> > and some of the studies really do use internet searches.  This, then,
> > is a
> > case where Google's faults could lead to people getting the wrong
> > medical
> > treatments, if decisions are made using results of meta analyses.
> > (Fortunately, most medical authorities don't rely much on these kinds
> > of
> > studies, but they are increasingly being performed and published,
> > precisely
> > because the internet makes these studies easy to do!)
> >
> > Millie Niss
> >
> > **********
> >
> > * Visit the Writing and the Digital Life blog
> > http://writing.typepad.com
> > * To alter your subscription settings on this list, log on to
> > Subscriber's Corner at
> > http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/writing-and-the-digital-life.html
> > * To unsubscribe from the list, email [log in to unmask] with a
> > blank subject line and the following text in the body of the message:
> > SIGNOFF WRITING-AND-THE-DIGITAL-LIFE
> >
> >
> George P. Landow
> Professor of English and the History of Art
> Brown University
> 
> www.landow.com
> 
> **********
> 
> * Visit the Writing and the Digital Life blog http://writing.typepad.com
> * To alter your subscription settings on this list, log on to Subscriber's Corner at http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/writing-and-the-digital-life.html
> * To unsubscribe from the list, email [log in to unmask] with a blank subject line and the following text in the body of the message: SIGNOFF WRITING-AND-THE-DIGITAL-LIFE
> 


-- 
http://travelsinvirtuality.typepad.com

**********

* Visit the Writing and the Digital Life blog http://writing.typepad.com
* To alter your subscription settings on this list, log on to Subscriber's Corner at http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/writing-and-the-digital-life.html
* To unsubscribe from the list, email [log in to unmask] with a blank subject line and the following text in the body of the message: SIGNOFF WRITING-AND-THE-DIGITAL-LIFE

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

JiscMail Tools


RSS Feeds and Sharing


Advanced Options


Archives

November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
July 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
July 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005


WWW.JISCMAIL.AC.UK

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager