Friday, 23 October 2009

Th Search Engine...

... is the most important and integral piece of technology to any researcher ... it is meant to be your friend and your ally and to make life EASIER! BE WARNED - it is NOT and it DOES NOT! It is the most bloody infuriating part of research work ever invented! Every web archive runs their search engine on a different criteria, using different methods ( I still have no idea what the term Boolean means - answers on a postcard please!)
Today I have been scouring the electronic resources available to me trying to locate and article written in January 1930 - (or possibly December 1929), supposedly in The Bookman (a London review). I have the title the author's name, the (apparent) publication, issue, date etc etc etc. Oh I can find the publication but now it appears that article is not in that magazine!

So - you begin again, looking to find the actual article, when it was printed and in what publication. It doesn't stop there. If you are able to find these facts then you have to start actually trying to track down a credible copy or edition of the magazine concerned or a reprint of the article in an anthology. This usually results in one copy in the bowels of a single library in Arkansas - why Arkansas? I have no idea but it seems that most British literary archives somehow make their way over the pond to the greater United States of America!

This is all well and good - if you can find out the facts in the first place. Searching through an archive online is a precarious business. It will allow you to search via all sorts of criteria - ostensibly! But let's face things full on here, do they actually work? Not often.

Today I entered this criteria in a search engine for the Partisan Review 'The Story of the Little Magazines' - entered 'article title' and got back no results. Which is to be expected... but then in insolently red italic lettering is the question - Do you mean the mystery of the missing princess?


No I bleeding well don't you imbecilic patronising bloody excuse for a search engine! If I had meant 'the mystery of the missing princess' the chances are I would have not put in 'the story of the little magazines'! would I?!?

And breath!

As if it isn't bad enough that finding the resources in the first place is hard enough or that my macbook has decided not to load -EVER -that the one archive I use nearly everyday on line, or that the library has very little in the way of resources other than electronic databases - NOW I HAVE TO PUT UP WITH BEING PATRONISED BY THE BLOODY SEARCH ENGINES AS WELL!!!!!

And yes, another deep breathe needed!

So I am back to square one - the book isn't clearly referenced as to where it got its information from, the google search throws up an inaccurate reference sending me on a wild goose chase, and all in all for 2 hours work I have NOTHING! NADA! NIENTE! ZILCH! ZERO!

In summary - what a load of old bollocks!

Of course I could be 'doing it wrong' .... hmmmmmmmm

Still, for a moment there I forgot all about my IBS! ;)

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