Monday, August 27, 2007

spelunking the deep web

There's been a lively discussion for the past couple of weeks on Teachers Teaching Teachers on whether the locked databases that our public libraries have access to are worth the trouble. Paul Allison does a nice analysis of the results of his search:
For me, databases start with three strikes against them: * they aren't easy to access * sources from them can't be collected in an RSS reader (EBSCOhost seems to be an interesting exception, but how do you become a member of EBSCO?) * links to sources found in a database won't work for the general reader.

Weblogs & Wikis & Feeds, Oh My!

Those a three big drawbacks to using these "deep web" resources. Maybe I've been reading too much Orwell, but what if in the future all knowledge is owned, and the only way to locate it is to learn how to navigate the labyrinthine ways of these independent databases. Take public records for instance: if we're to be citizens in a participatory democracy, we've got to teach and learn ways to get to this information (and I don't think it's readily available via a Google search). Lifehacker has a post about finding public records online.
You can use the web to find lots of things: information, videos, books, music, games, and yes, even public records. While our most private information can (usually) not be found online, you can track down items like birth certificates, marriage and divorce information, obituaries and licenses on the web. Keep reading to learn where to find public records online.

Technophilia: Where to find public records online - Lifehacker

I'm thinking that even though deep web resources can't be linked to, they can at least be excerpted from for now. And I'm also thinking that researching via RSS isn't enough, even though it may not be worth the effort.

1 comment:

Tom Goodman said...

Thanks great bblog post