Reid, C.D. (2011), "Global Research without Leaving Your Desk: Travelling the World with Your Mouse as Companion", Library Review, Vol. 60 No. 9, pp. 839-840. https://doi.org/10.1108/00242531111176862
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The internet has become the source that we all turn to for quick reference to information. However, the indiscriminate nature of search engines makes them very inefficient tools and a poorly constructed search resulting in millions of hits does not, as a rule, return quick answers. This book aims to remove some of this frustration for the business information researcher by providing pointers to reliable and targeted internet sources. Although it does claim to assume a certain level of internet skills, chapter one begins with some very useful basics – read a URL before opening up the web page as this can tell you a great deal about the content and save precious time; check the date last updated of a page before reading the content and deciding to use it; use mind mapping to develop alternative key words; and remember the internet archive for pages which appear to have disappeared. This chapter then continues with an overview of search engines and their characteristics likening this to a cruise round the Greek Islands with only the more well‐known being discussed. These include Google, Clusty, and Turbo 10 and metasearch engines such as Dogpile and Kartoo.
The longest chapter, with 65 pages, focuses on how to access global business information. This begins with very general sources before addressing specific, but selective, organisations by area, country and those with international coverage. The remaining chapters consider knowing your customer, the focus of which is on internet scams and frauds; terrorism, surveillance and corruption; the growing importance of social networking tools; and finally some fun resources.
Macoustra draws on her extensive experience as an information professional in pulling together this volume. She has worked in the oil and gas industry, investment banking, law, local government and consultancy. The resources mentioned therefore reflect her international work experience with a wide variety of different types of content being highlighted. We are shown, for example, how to locate refineries in France, find data on the uranium mining industry in Australia, identify Argentinian newspapers and obtain background on the Canadian wheat industry.
One of the difficulties of providing a guide to web sources is that it goes out of date very quickly. Many of the links I tried to follow were broken. There is an accompanying blog, the stated purpose of which is to list new and obsolete web sites, and thus keep the book up‐to‐date. Sadly this does not appear to be updated very often with the most recent entry dated March 2011 (as at June 2011, the time of writing). A list of the web sites referred to is presented at the end of each chapter. It would have been useful to have seen all of these on the accompanying blog to allow for easy linking as many of the URLS are very long to input. I also struggle to understand why it was felt necessary to include a screen shot for every web site mentioned. Frequently this means two to a page. They are therefore too small to read the content. I counted 192 screenshots and in a book of only 202 pages, not much space is therefore left for accompanying content. With the author giving out advice of checking the date a site is updated, why include a screenshot of the 2007 edition of the CIA World Factbook when this online source is updated weekly?
The country resources are grouped by continent and then by selected countries. To find in the Europe section, more than two pages devoted to England are like a red rag to a bull to a Scot – especially when the resources mentioned are UK wide. Perhaps the author is preparing for greater devolution?
The value of this volume lies in stimulating the researcher to think creatively – who might hold the information you are looking for?; consider obtaining data from different official sites and compare it for accuracy and completeness; pay attention to the copyright policies before using data from sites; and, if seeking background on individuals or companies, remember the gossip pages.