Archive for November, 2010

Mining the web like a pro: Google and beyond

November 29th, 2010 by Jack Styczynski

Points of emphasis for critical thinking:

  1. There’s more to search engines than just plugging in words.  The best searchers use the advanced features.  There are many places to find Google tips.
  2. No mainstream search engines, even Google, search anywhere close to the entire web.  They don’t include every page, nor the entirety of many longer documents.  That’s why you need to familiarize yourself with many of the sources I’ve reviewed this semester.  You can’t rely on Google exclusively.
  3. Web sites are not all created equalEvaluate, and trust primary sources FIRST.  Sometimes you’ll want to check who owns a web site.
  4. Web pages don’t die easily.  Old pages can be treasure troves.
  5. The first breakout web search tool was a subject guide.  They are still around and still useful.
  6. In addition to the “general” search tools, there are great “specialty” engines too.  Among the best known are Google NewsGoogle Books and YouTube.

More backgrounding magic

November 27th, 2010 by Jack Styczynski

Remember the tool we used in class to find contact information for the woman with the Twitter account and web site?  Well, along with trolling the ‘net to find hints of a suspected scammer’s political leanings, you could have used it to find the domain creation date that helped sniff out the recent BirthOrNot.com hoax as well.

And speaking of scammers and backgrounding, check out some great work by my colleagues at the Times.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24th, 2010 by Jack Styczynski

At this point, everyone should have received a final grade on the research-inspired enterprise assignment.  To give you an idea how you did relative to the rest of the class, the median grade was a B+.  Good job, overall.  In particular, every rewrite resulted in a better finished product.  Thanks for your effort.

Now don’t eat too much!

Today’s bonus: Annais Morales has another byline in the New York Post, and it’s no turkey!

Job seeking tip

November 18th, 2010 by Jack Styczynski

Earlier this week, I was telling one of my former students–who’s rapidly approaching graduation–that I’ve always targeted the specific places I wanted to work (rather than just trying to find where the openings are), so I figured I’d share one of my success stories.

When I was in grad school, I knew I’d like to be a researcher in the NBC Information Center after having become familiar with it years earlier as an intern and freelancer in the sports department.  Anyway, we had a school assignment where we had to survey a library, so I set it up to spend a few hours at NBC’s version and interview the manager there.  When I finished the assignment, I sent her a copy of my report, which she seemed to like.

Several months later, as I was approaching graduation, I saw a posting for an entry-level job there, and I contacted her.  “Remember me?  I’m the guy who interviewed you.  Will you interview me now?”

The rest is history.

So the moral of this story is, even if you don’t have a similar school assignment, it might be worth faking one…or more.

And here’s a funny addendum to the story too… (more…)

Colleague watch

November 17th, 2010 by Jack Styczynski

Here’s the Wiki link for Barbara Gray’s handouts, now including yesterday’s presentation on social networking.

Speaking of which, Charles Wilson supplemented Barbara’s lesson with some people finding thoughts of his own.

Today’s bonus: Barbara also tipped me off to this article.  Rush (among others) gets taken in again.

Byline bonanza

November 13th, 2010 by Jack Styczynski

Our class has had several bylines in the last few weeks…

On the News Service, check out Bianca Seidman-Shvarts’ coverage of the College Music Journalism (CMJ) music marathon here and here. And don’t miss multimedia profiles by Jennifer Hamblett on an art-world chronicler and Yudith Ho on a restorer of antique brass cash registers.

Last but not least, Annais Morales got bylines in the New York Post here and here. Why am I not surprised to see the NYPD mentioned in the first article? I’m imagining her running toward synagogues in search of bombs.

Kudos to all!

Bonus bylines: Now that college basketball season is upon us, you can critique the teacher’s work here, here and here. Or you can just crack on the picture below. I swear I was not falling asleep! (I’m sure ace photographer Ray Floriani is humored by catching me mid-blink.)

Interviewing Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright at Big East media day.

Interviewing Villanova basketball coach Jay Wright at Big East media day.

Blekko: a new search engine

November 12th, 2010 by Jack Styczynski

Here’s an article and a video (below) that serves as a good lead-in to my next and final lesson about “Mining the web like a pro.”  I don’t plan to cover Blekko specifically, but it nonetheless serves to show you how web searches, whether using Google or another engine, can get quite advanced.

blekko: how to slash the web from blekko on Vimeo.

Today’s bonus: I’m pretty sure it’s a new era when Newsweek and The Daily Beast merge.

Answering Annais

November 10th, 2010 by Jack Styczynski

While investigating the question Annais posed yesterday about translating job title codes on the New York City Civil List, I came to the conclusion that the easiest way to do it is just use SeeThroughNY’s City of New York payroll database.  Using yesterday’s example of Thomas Farley, SeeThroughNY lists his position as Commissioner of Health rather than the job code number of 94357 on the Civil List, not to mention it gives his entire first name rather than just a first initial.  I would still check the Civil List to confirm a salary since it is the primary source, but SeeThroughNY is definitely the more user-friendly tool.  Also note that the Civil Lists go back farther than SeeThroughNY if you need to check salaries from past years.

Backgrounding resources

November 9th, 2010 by Jack Styczynski

Points of emphasis for critical thinking:

  1. Backgrounding people is crucial. For example, you never want to write a friendly story about someone, only to be burned by not doing proper backgrounding.
  2. Never trust any person—no matter who it is—as your sole source of information, even about him or her self…and sometimes ESPECIALLY about him or her self (e.g. people lying about their age).  Always verify!
  3. Last but not least: there’s some information generated about people that won’t be available. As an example, consider Presidential candidates. What information about them is released only at their discretion?