Specialty Databases (Verticals) The Focus Of A Wall Street Journal Article

A few weekends ago Wall Street Journal reporter, Kevin Delaney, gave me a call asking for a few ideas, thoughts, and suggestions about useful specialized databases (aka verticals) that would be of interest to WSJ readers.

Today, the article was published and it’s titled, “Beyond Google.” You’ll find it linked here. However, at least for the moment, Kevin’s story is only available to WSJ subscribers.

A couple of quick comments and notes:

1) Thanks Kevin for asking for my suggestions and for the quote. You should know that for each database suggested and included in the final article, 40-50 more could have been included and received a well-deserved mention. I had to limit my picks for obvious reasons. Of course, Kevin spoke to others and also included their suggestions.

2) The “Beyond Google” headline is great. The word Google has a way of drawing peoples attention and the title of the headline is often the title of presentations I give. Why? A presentation titled, “Learn about Specialty Databases” does not pack in the crowds. Tossing the word Google into the title, does.

Specialty tools do not replace general purpose large web engines like Google, Ask Jeeves, Yahoo, Gigablast, Exalead, and others. A web researcher should have a good working knowledge of both general databases and specialty tools. Plus, in terms of some of my presentations, the word “Google” gets the crowd in the door and then I have time to not only talk about Google (many don’t have any idea of what it can offer) but also have time to talk about the great useful stuff being developed by AJ, Yahoo, and elsewhere. So in reality it’s a two pronged presensation. As I posted on Friday, it’s clear that many people who use these and other tools have little to no idea of how these services work and what they offer.

+ General web engines (The full landscape, how to take full advantage of some of their services, creating better queries). These days it can also include time letting the audience know about verticals that these companies also provide like Yahoo Audio Search.

+ Specialized databases (verticals) the power and often time saving capabilities they offer. The challenge for many is just knowing about them.

3) If you read the blog on a regular basis, you’ll likely notice that Kevin used several suggestions that I’ve written about on our site. Cool!

4) I was especially pleased to see the WSJ article mention the wonderful RegLightGreen bibliographic database and NetLibrary, available for free from many libraries that offers the full text of thousands of books. Remember, as I wrote in this guest column for BetaNews, public, university, and many other types of libraries offer FREE, 24x7x365, access from any web computer (no need to go to the library) to a full range of specialized databases that often offer content not found in web engines (full text journals, newspapers, magazines, reference books, etc.) OR packaged in such a way to add extra value to the data. Plus, these databases tend to offer search capabilities not found from general web engines. Every library offers different service and databases. The easiest to learn what your library offers is to either look at their web site or make a quick call.

Postscript: I’m happy to report that at least for the moment, it’s the most popular story on the WSJ site today. Yes, I think the public is beginning to understand the value of specialized tools.

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