Google Introduces Knowledge Graph

Google continues to try to read our minds.  It has introduced the “Knowledge Graph”  — a search enhancement for finding people, places or things that interprets the meaning of keywords to offer popular facts and alternative queries.

For example, search “Thurgood Marshall” and to the right of the search results Google provides basic biographical data from Wikipedia along with suggested related searches:

Click here for more information about this feature.


Survey Response: How Can I Get More Access to Google Books Content?

Google Books is able to provide access to digitized materials consistent with U.S. Copyright Laws. In short, the only titles that are available in full-text are those in the public domain—i.e. their copyright protection has expired or they are not copyrightable.

A very brief history: Google developed a project to create an online digital library of the world’s books. Google launched this project by partnering with a number of major research libraries that allowed Google to scan their collections—both those books in the public domain as well as books still under copyright. Google’s scanning of books and offering them up on a searchable database led copyright owners (authors and publishers) to bring a copyright infringement claim against Google. On March 22, 2011, a U.S. District Court Judge rejected an amended settlement agreement.

So while the law library cannot provide greater access to titles via Google Books, if a book is not in our collection, students may be able to acquire a copy through Inter-Library Loan from another GMU library or other university libraries.


Google Scholar Changes Case Citation Information

Google has announced that it has changed how it displays citations to legal opinions:

Now, instead of sorting the citing documents by their prominence, we sort them by the extent of discussion of the cited case. Opinions that discuss the cited case in detail are presented before ones that mention the case briefly. We indicate the extent of discussion visually and indicate opinions that discuss the cited case at length, that discuss it moderately and those that discuss it briefly. Opinions that don’t discuss the cited case are left unmarked.

Google in the Hot Seat

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, held a hearing titled: “The Power of Google: Serving Consumers or Threatening Competition?”  A webcast of the hearing, witness testimony, and member statements are available on the Senate Judicary Website.  In advance of the hearing, Google published a Guide to the Senate Judiciary Hearing.

Do you Ctrl+F?

According to an article in The Atlantic, 90% of web users don’t use Ctrl/Command+F to help find specific words in a Word document or on webpages.

The article cites a study conducted by Dan Russell, a search behavior expert at Google.  Russell discovered this inefficient search behavior based on sampling “thousands” of people.  Most people skimmed through long documents trying to find the one thing they were looking for rather than using Ctrl+F to save time.

Sounds like a short cut worth remembering!

Should We Fear Google?

Does that seem like a strange question?  Not according to University of Virginia Law Professor Siva Vaidhyanathan.  In his newest book,  The Googlization of Everything: (and why we should worry), he examines Google’s impact on our lives, especially its dominant role in controlling information access in much of the world.  This book is an important reminder to everyone, especially researchers, to evaluate Google’s search results with a critical eye.   

To learn more about this book please see my review in the AALL Spectrum Blog and also check out Siva’s Blog.

Go Ahead and Google it

Here’s one time when searching Google is not only a good option—it’s required.  Google has launched a Google a Day, a daily trivia game that tests your Google search skills.  To avoid game spoiling search results,  it is played using Deja Google—the Google search engine as it existed before the game began.  Answers will be printed weekdays in the New York Times, above the crossword puzzle, and on the “a Google a Day” site along with search tips.

Can You Trust Your Google Search Result?

Using Google as an easy way to access known information sources makes good sense.  Type the name, click on the result, and review the content.  But blindly browsing on Google in the hopes of finding reliable information requires extreme caution. 

Unlike subscription databases that are evaluated by information professionals, Google’s content is malleable by profit-seekers skilled at search engine optimization (SEO).  They seek to capitalize on the exploding e-commerce market with no regard for accuracy or reliability.  As a recent article in the New York Times reveals, Google faces a huge challenge to remain impartial.  

The bottom line: always consider the reliability of each source of information.  Ranking on Google is not indictive of trustworthiness.