06 May 2008

Trawling the Deep Web

When it comes to research, I am a firm believer that whatever I am looking for exists, and if it exists it is probably online (or will be at some point). Needless to say, I have alot of unbridled optimism, and infinite patience for the blossoming of the internet.

Along those lines, I was thinking about the "deep web" or "invisible web" which alludes to the gazillions of bytes of information out there on the internet that are not accessible via traditional search engine results. This includes, of course, things like information stored in databases... the life blood of the online genealogy researcher.

Some Resources

I found a great article from OEdb which provided some interesting links for exploring the deep web. Of special note are the following sites:

Some Rethinking

Ultimately, of course, we can't believe that a link to some deep, as-of-yet-undiscovered database will solve all of our research problems. The truth is that the deep web is not so much invisible as it is demanding... demanding that what can be wandering, aimless time spent on the internet take the same disciplined, goal-oriented approaches that most research resembles. The deep web reminds us that we must reassess and re-evaluate the ways in which we work online, in order to maximize both the efficiency and integrity of our internet research.

This article, from UC Berkeley, says it all, and provides a fabulous matrix for rethinking your approach to online research. My goal is to follow the guidelines set out here and re-research a current brick wall. Perhaps the issue is not that the information is not out there, but that only that I am unable to find it. Optimistic? Perhaps, but the only down-side is a more thorough understanding of what is and is not currently available online on a given topic. And that's not much of a down-side, now is it?

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