12 November 2006

Digital Skills: Searching

Working towards my final project, I conducted a "market survey" to determine what was already out there, in terms of primary or eyewitness accounts from American men and women fighting the war in Afghanistan or Iraq in digital archives. To my surprise, there isn't that much at all. Specifically, I was looking for

Searched Goggle using the following strings:

accounts from global war on terror: 3,160,000 hits. Most sites related to GWOT in general, but many were related to opening a website "account," bank accounts, etc.

"accounts from global war on terror": did not match any documents.

personal account "global war on terror": 277,000 hits

Most of the content on the web is basic commentary found on blog sites. Most often, these have a little bit of everything, to include news and a whole rang of other topics.

"soldier stories" AND "global war on terror": 332 hits

This brought me to government pages, general news, and anti-war blog sites.

"primary accounts" "global war on terror": 32

None of the above search strings provided very good results. Of the 32 listed URLs, none had ANY eyewitness accounts outside those from the POWs held at Gitmo Bay.

The search string "journal" and GWOT provided another several millions hits- at one point I found "milblogger", a website with thousands of active duty bloggers, but I did not find anything noteworthy.

The search criteria: (war diary) OIF, really paid off well but with 114,000 hits, whereas "war diary" OIF had 4,430 hits. Actually the former search offered much better material right at the top of the hit list.

I looked back at Mary Ellen Bates' article, “Internet Librarian: 30 Search Tips in 40 Minutes,” and tried the web search triangle using yahoo.com (worse results and I am generally opposed to using yahoo) and metacrawler.com that had great results! The number of hits for (war diary) OIF was 72 and "war diary" OIF netted 55. Not bad.

In closing, the results were rather weak and dissappointing but show that individual war diaries or eyewitness accounts are on the Internet. The key to the GWOT Archive will be meta-tagging the individual pages accurately. The title alone will require carefully targeted wording.