CCC Online: March 2007 Archives

Then I could tell you that those letters stand for "crushing seasonal headache." The news round these parts is that the temperature reached into the low 60s today, which has been good for The Melt, but bad for My Head. When seasons change, the corresponding shift in pressure typically renders me unable to focus for 2-3 days at a time, bringing with it dull, throbbing headaches of the sort that quite literally make my eyeballs sore. Needless to say, sleep becomes something of a chore, rivaled only by the effort that goes into being awake. Not the happiest of times.

I've been giving some thought to the presentation I'll be giving at CCCC this year. Inspired in part by last week's snarky little entry, which itself prompted me to add "snark alert" to my categories, I've been dialing back my expectations for what I'll accomplish in this presentation. It's hard, having been working on CCCOA for two-plus years now, to imagine that there aren't folks in our field who remain unfamiliar with it, and yet, my guess is that this is actually a fair description of most folks in our field. The speed of change in the 'sphere--and on the net more generally--outpaces that of the run-of-the-mill discipline, perhaps exponentially. And so, what I think I need to do in my talk is to actually introduce the site and what it contributes.

Right now, I'm thinking of an unofficial subtitle for my talk that would be something like "13 Ways of Looking at a Journal." Mostly it would be an introduction to the site, running from the most basic and obvious features to some of the trickier stuff we've built into it, and finally to a couple of disciplinary questions that a site like this can provide us the evidence to work on.

I've been thinking about this a little harder after seeing Tim Burke's post about what he describes as "search as alchemy." To wit,

But there are other times where I want search to be alchemy, to turn the lead of an inquiry into unexpected gold. I’m hoping that the rush to simplify, speed up, demystify and digitize search doesn’t leave that alchemy behind.

It seems like such an obvious point to me, that academic search functions in much different ways than "regular" search, but what's come clear to us over the past couple of years is that we need to figure out better ways of getting the word out, to make the case that CCCOA is a site for search, yes, but also a site of invention. I think that message is both clear and obvious to many of you, my fair readers, but to the field-at-large, it still needs saying.

So I think that's part of what I'll be saying next week.

You may recall how, once upon a time, certain of us (blogeurs) were, shall we say, disinterpellated by particular long-time members of a disciplinary listserv? Well, you'll be pleased to know that, compared to that lovely episode, the following marks a real step forward. In the process of discussing some recent upgrades to CompPile, one loyal user remarks that it would be nice if that site included the 7 most recent years of scholarship:

can you find a way to update to more recent years? I know that the CCCC project is doing that, sorta, but I never do get around to checking it after the great convenience of comppile. Maybe some kind of link, so as not to duplicate effort?

Now, I'm not exactly sure what the "CCCC project" is, but since our site shares 3 of those C's, and we are a project, I can only surmise that "sorta" is meant as a grudging acknowledgment of our efforts over the past 2 years. We sorta belong, at long long last! Why, we might even rate a link, if we're lucky.

Yes, I'm chock full of sarcasm, because apparently the inconvenience of say, bookmarking our site, is apparently too much to ask of this user. I can only imagine that it's too much, because once you arrive at our site, there are only 10 or so different ways that you might search for scholarship:

  • by typing an author's name into the search bar
  • by typing a word or two from the title into the search bar
  • by typing a keyword into the search bar
  • by using the search bar to track down something in a bibliography
  • by following a link from something that has cited the thing you're looking for
  • by following a link from something that the thing you're looking for has cited
  • by using the drop down menu that links to the last 15 years of issues
  • by exploring the CCCC categories, each of which contains dozens of articles
  • by clicking on a tag, and seeing all of the other articles that are similarly tagged
  • by visiting delicious, where all such tags can be ordered by frequency or alphabetically

I don't talk a lot about CompPile, because I really respect the efforts of the individuals who maintain it. The model that they're working with, on the other hand, is unsustainable, except through Herculean effort, and it only scratches the surface of what databases could be allowing us to do in this field. Heck, we're only scratching the surface, but at the very least, we're getting beyond the "bob for apples" model of search that still seems to dominate a lot of the discussions I see.

Mainly, I have to remind myself that they're not responsible for what said loyal user posts to the list. And I'm content to work along, to improve our site, and to make it a tool that rewards the efforts of both new and experienced researchers. Heck, if we keep at it, by the end of the decade, he might even acknowledge us by name.

Snarkography complete.



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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the CCC Online category from March 2007.

CCC Online: September 2006 is the previous archive.

CCC Online: November 2007 is the next archive.

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