Sunday, September 17, 2006

"Square One"

"Square one" for me entailed reading up on the Essentials of Google search and Advanced Search made easy. Why had I not taken the time to learn about this stuff before? I could have saved a good deal of time and frustration in my research last year had I known, for example, that Google searches are not case sensitive, that they exclude common characters, and that they allow for excluding certain annoying, unwanted terms that would invariably appear, tainting my search results. Last year, for example, I was trying to find a particular German woman with the last name "Fischer." Now, unfortunately for my purposes, she shared the same name as a new, "virtual army officer" representing the German Ministry of Defense online. The "virtual" Fischer appears much more frequently online than does the very real woman I was searching for - but a simple "-army", or "-military" qualifier in my search, I happily discovered, weeded out most unwanted references.

I also found some bizarre results using Find Forward's search grid - a tool I had never used before. Now, I thought I had searched endlessly online for information about, and opinions on, Berlin's new Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Just last week I finished my Master's thesis on the production of, and interpretation of history at the darn thing. My Find Forward search, however, took me to a page I'd never come across. Truth be told, it wouldn't have been very helpful for my purposes, but it is interesting in that it reminds me how many different "takes" we can have on one subject. There is a whole article on the Memorial in "Concrete Quarterly" magazine - yes, I bet you didn't know there was such a thing as "Concrete Quarterly", but there sure is. It looks very sleek. And it boasts a searchable archive from 1947 to date. Ah, fans of concrete, rejoice!

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