One of the greatest challenges searchers face is finding information about or in an unfamiliar country. In "Super Searchers Cover the World," some of the world's best international business researchers share tips, techniques and secrets that help you avoid being a stranger in a strange land.
Part of the Super Searchers series, this is Mary Ellen Bates' second contribution to this valuable set of books. Bates herself is a highly regarded business researcher, and uses her own knowledge and information finding skills to craft fascinating and at the same time highly readable interviews with twenty expert online researchers.
If you've done any international searching, you know that it can be a daunting task. It's no surprise that the major theme emerging from the book is that while more and more information is available via the Internet, many countries are just getting started putting information online.
In fact, most of the searchers interviewed regard the web as a secondary resource for research. Even so, this book is a valuable read for web searchers, since the dozens of sites mentioned by the searchers are all first rate.
Bates is also skilled at getting her experts to reveal their mindset and thought processes when searching for international information. Sometimes this mental work is the most important part of finding relevant results -- even more than possessing top-notch searching skills with a variety of online resources.
The book is loaded with searching tips -- many of them dealing with how to overcome dead-ends when you've come up with nothing on the web. Some of my favorites include:
- Use country-specific search engines when you're looking for information about one particular nation or state. By eliminating "the rest of the world" you automatically shrink the haystack and make needles easier to find.
- When beginning to do research on an unfamiliar part of the world, seek out people first, not information. Try to identify web sites that are run by experts on your target country and seek to develop a personal relationship with them.
- Make use of support staff at embassies by emailing them with questions or requests for information. They can often go directly to the source and can provide information that simply isn't available on the web.
- Be culturally sensitive. Sometimes the very question you're seeking to answer has no meaning outside of your home country.
And, my personal favorite, from Michele Marinak, Global Information Consultant for Find/SVP: "Try not to get into too much of a rut about the sources you use. Keep your mind open to other ways of doing things."
This is an excellent point. It's so easy to get lulled into using your "favorite" search engine that you lose sight of the countless other first-rate resources that might give you far superior results for some queries.
As a searcher, the world really is becoming your oyster, and unlike Shakespeare's Pistol who threatened to open it with his sword, you have the benefit of online search tools. Super Searchers Cover the World is an excellent guide to harvesting international pearls you might not be able to find in any other way.
Super Searchers Cover the World
by Mary Ellen Bates
CyberAge Books - $24.95
The Super Searchers Web Page
Disclosure: CyberAge Books is the publisher of my book, The Invisible Web, co-authored with Gary Price. Apart from this relationship, I have no further professional connection with either CyberAge Books or with the author of Super Searchers Cover the World.
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