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Part I: Gathering Information

Part I: Gathering Information

To add value to your organization by producing and disseminating knowledge, it’s important that you start with the basics—by gathering the information that serves as your basic building blocks. Today, the source that people go to most frequently is the Web. Knowledge workers in the twenty-first century need to be as facile with searching for information on the Web as their twentieth-century counterparts were with library card catalogs and journal indexes. To gain that facility, three things are required.

InfrastructureMaster carpenters always have their toolboxes right next to them. They don’t have to go back constantly to the look for the right drill bit or chisel; they know what’s needed for each job and have it ready at hand. So, too, efficient researchers have spent the front-end time to customize the right toolkits for finding information on the Web.

Wired thinkingTo gather information efficiently and effectively, you have to create new habits of thinking and working. You need to not only have the right infrastructure, but also instinctively turn to it whenever you have a question, until using it is as instinctive as a farsighted person picking up reading glasses to see the newspaper.

Latest toolsThe tools that are available to gather information change daily, and not only are new tools often available, but also new classes of tools are created with astonishing rapidity. Having created the right infrastructure, and having the right habits, master information gatherers always have their “radar” on, scanning the environment for tools that can make them more effective.

The first three chapters of this book show you exactly how to achieve each of these competencies. In Chapter 1, “Creating Your Infrastructure,” you find out how to optimize Microsoft Internet Explorer by modifying toolbars, maximizing your screen “real estate,” and personalizing Internet Explorer for your use. You’re guided through the process of selecting your default search tool, and learn how to save search results where they’ll be available for your use. You even learn how to perform periodic maintenance to keep your tools in top shape.

Chapter 2, “Making People Your Best Resource,” shows you how to find the people on the Web who can provide the expertise to make published data come alive. You learn all about e-mail lists—what they are, how to find them, and how to use them. You also find out about newsgroups, how to use Microsoft Outlook Express to participate in them, and how to search Web-based sites that contain newsgroup archives. You even learn about newer Web-based forums and ask-the-expert systems, as well as the online etiquette involved in soliciting information from others.

Chapter 3, “Making the Most of Your Web Searches,” adds to your skills by teaching you about advanced techniques and tools. You learn how to use the advanced search functions of different search engines and construct Boolean searches. You find out about advanced tools that can help you with your searches, like search bots and tools that find associated sites for you. You see how to work where and when you want by synchronizing Web sites for offline viewing, and you find out how to use the Invisible Web—the part of the Web that isn’t found by the search engines.



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