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Indexing is political

One of my favorite publications is Lapham’s Quarterly, “a magazine of history and ideas,” created by Lewis H. Lapham, formerly editor of Harper’s Magazine. The magazine’s blog, Lapham’s Quarterly: Roundtable has a fun article on back-of-book indexing.

  • Back Matter, by Moira Donovan, Lapham’s Quarterly: Roundtable (April 13, 2012).

Donovan quickly outlines the history of indexing books. Then she makes this parallel to search engines and the internet and how they affect how we view information:

The power of the index was twofold. Not only was it a microcosm of a more protracted body of knowledge, but it could also be intensely political. With the formalization of the profession in the eighteenth century, an author’s choice of indexer required a discerning judge of human nature. One nineteenth century writer warned of books “whose indexes, compiled by unscrupulous enemies, have been their ruin.” Although an index considered ‘good’ by the standards of the profession could never express any overtly political bent, a shadow of authorship is inevitably cast. In the same way that modern search engines filter content, the index shows that the organization of information, no matter how straightforward, is never neutral. Information retrieval may not change the content of the information sought, but it certainly affects how that information is viewed, shifting physical and psychological perceptions.

Scroogle shuts down, citing DDoS attacks and Google throttling

Scroogle, since 2003 my go-to search engine — it queries Google search, but anonymizes search results, does not store cookies on users’ computers, and strips out all the google ads on the search results page — may have finally gone to the big search engine in the sky. Created by “privacy militant and self-appointed Wikipedia watchdog” Daniel Brandt, Scroogle had recently been enduring round-the-clock [[Distributed_Denial_of_Service|distributed denial of service]] (DDoS) attacks on its servers as well as throttling of its service by Google. For those that are interested, there are other options for privacy-protecting search engines.

There IS a connection to and a concern for libraries here. Anyone building digital archives needs to be concerned about this type of action. The best way to thwart DDoS attacks is to host digital content on many servers and have built-in redundancy of content and infrastructure. Collaboration is key!

[HT to /.]

Science.gov Goes Mobile Plus New Databases Added!

Via INFOdocket:

First, Science.gov Mobile is now available at m.science.gov as a web app. No download required.

Second, Science.gov added three new databases today that are available when searching either at Science.gov or m.Science.gov.

The new databases:

  • Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) (EPA) under Environment and Environmental Quality
  • DOE Data Explorer under Math, Physics, Chemistry (a product of Science Accelerator)
  • Energy Science and Technology Software Center (ESTSC) DOE (a product of Science Accelerator)

Science.gov now provides access to more than 45 databases that can be searched one at a time or simultaneously and can also be a very useful discovery tool to learn about U.S. government science databases accessible to the general public.

(Update) Official: Google Shuts Down Uncle Sam and GovSearch.Google.com

A quick update to a post from Monday that mentioned Google’s specialty search tools (including Uncle Sam and GovSearch.Google.com) were offline.

It’s now official both of these sites as well as four other specialty search tools that Google offered for at least a decade are NO LONGER AVAILABLE.

Search Engine Land has posted a brief article* (written by your truly) with info and a couple of quotes from Google about the end of the services.

The article is linked to from INFOdocket or you can go to the article directly.