Welcome to:

This is the work of David Novak - a leading researcher in the field of internet search skills.
Join me as we explore how to gather better information now that we know how to use a search engine. This site has a long history and a fair portion of the many advances in internet search technique were first innovated and released here. I think you will find this topic far more involved, and far simpler, than you imagine.

Welcome... to better ways to find information.
The Complete CD Beyond Surfing.
as a single 72minute mp3
Creative Commons License
Beyond Surfing by David Novak is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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The first step for all searchers is to understand the interplay of Precision and Prominence.
These 50+ pages are drawn from David's book:
Internet Informed: Guidance for the Dedicated Searcher
Chapters on Precision & Prominence
  • Licensed under a Creative Commons attrib-noncom-noderiv license. Pass it around.
  • View it using Gentium, the preferred font. scripts.sil.org/gentium


      Time to let this book loose. Search skills develop slower than computer tech, so it remains relevant. I present it here as a single pdf file (332 pages) or as 9 hours of audio mp3. It is certain to make you a better searcher.
    Internet Informed: Guidance for the Dedicated Searcher
    by David Novak of The Spire Project.
  • ISBN: 978-0-9757299-1-5   332 pages.   158mm x 234mm.   Price: AUD$60
  • Table of Contents   cover image   back cover image
  • To order a physical copy, send an email using this form below.
  • The latest copy will always reside here.

    The Complete : Internet Informed: Guidance for the Dedicated Searcher
  • bookRead as a single PDF document (2Mbytes/334pages)

  • Listen as an Audiobook (260Mbytes/9.5 hours)
  •   Internet Informed ch00 Prologue
      Internet Informed ch01 Precision
      Internet Informed ch02 Prominence
      Internet Informed ch03 Quality
      Internet Informed ch04 Identity
      Internet Informed ch05 Haste
      Internet Informed ch06 Structure
      Internet Informed ch07 Attention
      Internet Informed ch08 Utopia
      Internet Informed ch09 Pursuit
      Internet Informed ch10 Choreography
      Internet Informed ch11 Epilogue
      Internet Informed ch12 Audio endnote
            [Download an archive of all these audio files.]
    Creative Commons License Internet Informed by David Novak, in both pdf and mp3, are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

  • The Information Research FAQ Gently sir, you speak too quickly for my ear.

    This website tends to address the skills needed by skilled internet users but if you are new to thinking your way through a search, here are some introductory documents:

            A gentle start to internet search theory.
            Search engines need finesse.
            The Information Research FAQ  (description)
            Finally, wrap your mind around these three simple search concepts:

    Feedback Research, Geography and Search tool bias.

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    David Novak

    We've tried library talks. A good talk will fill an auditorium but we'd need some persuading to return to this format. It is strictly large talks and paid seminars now. I've gained the experience by speaking at libraries (and in seminars to librarians but that is another story). I am just unconvinced library talks have a long-term impact on our world.

    Instead, I'd like to look for opportunities to talk at tech festivals. That would be fun - and impactful. If you have a lead to such an event, please do tell.

    I am also interested in volunteered translation assistance for recently and soon-to-be released material, as happened with the FAQ years ago.

    Many of the TECHNIQUES we use today to reach beyond search engines, many techniques you will soon find invaluable, first emerged here. Techniques like using Google's hidden field search to reveal context or using the link field search to reveal link companions. Try your hand at these few:
        Non-linear searching
        Deep URL Interpretation
        Attention to context/format/source
        Google's hidden direct field searches
        Hacking the URL
        Anticipating information
        Substructures like
            link companions

    Understanding QUALITY is also critical to searching the internet - and thankfully, the internet is the most quality transparent medium we have. Here are some older, general thoughts that led to their development.
    Plagiarism Therapy
    OR What?
    10 Billion or more
    The growth of the internet
            should still scare you
    Coming Confusion
    The Third Avenue
    Feeling Lost?
    Getting Found
    Information Value Falls
    More than a search engine
    Internet-savvy librarians
    Information Pollution
    Commercial Information,
          Publicly Funded

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    Special SEARCH TOOLS also help us speed our way to the information we seek like bookmarklets, embedded forms, a unified search form and more. The first four articles come from a series of twenty (now in the archive) that focused on specific types of information. I also include an article on juggling, a print-published article on forms, my unified search form and a homepage I use to speed my searching.
    National Statistical Agencies Searching Patents Searching the Web Country Profiles
    Articles on: Optimizing Windows & Manipulating Forms to Improve Research (as it appeared in ONLINE)
    Two tools: Unified Search Plus and Spire Project Light

    We must also consider CHOREOGRAPHY. Something of the internet and the way we search pushes us towards mediocre, general information. Yet brilliant resources fill the internet. The best information demands not only skill and technique but also a willingness to demand more of the internet - a willingness to ask challenging, comprehensive questions.
    Part of this is simply anticipatinginformation and asking the right questions. It also involves attending to the evolution of our search question, search tool bias and where our questions lead us. Keep in mind:
        Creative synthesis is faster than invention but demands serious information skills.
        Instead of searching for information, we may be searching for a footpath.
        How we ask our questions also depends on the medium. We ask different sorts of questions on the internet.

    Believing we are the first is an illusion proffered by those who can't search.   Lastly, look to the ENVIRONMENT. The more we understand, the more we will realize how and why information flows as it does. With this understanding grows our opportunities to bend the internet to our wishes. For example, learning to search, we also learn how to be found.
        A sociological approach to information
    Serendipity and an old White Paper on Internet Promotion

    David Novak
    This site emerges from years of work, years of conversation and from many specific studies into the organization of the internet - studies like David's early census now sitting in an archive.
    I publish the occasional significant article like Evolution of Internet Research: Shifting Allegiances, a cover article for ONLINE.
    Even before the arrival of the web,I taught Internet seminars from the State Library of Western Australia.
    From '97, I wrote the Information Research FAQ, the first internet document to take a serious look at internet search technique. It was enormously famous at the time - and I'm still fond of it.
    Between '97 and 2000, I prepared 20 separate articles listing resources and an idealized search approach for formats like books, periodicals and patents, each listing internet, library and commercial resources and each thick with embedded forms.
    I create or adapte various search tools like the Unified Search Plus.
    And I presented several series of seminars to the librarian community between '98 and 2008 in places like Wellington and Canberra.
    You can see I have been at this a very long time. Iam an old information researcher who crossed over, very early, to focus on internet search skills. A graduate in Sociology, in one sense, I have spent the last ten years studying the sociology of internet information. I remain unattached to a library or university though I owe a great debt of thanks to the many libraries who share their resources with me.

    More about The Spire Project here...

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    David Novak Where will this lead us? The internet holds such promise for our world. Yet for this promise to be realized, information skills must be refined then communicated through our communities. It is not enough to wait for everyone to develop these skills for themselves. This is the mission of the Spire Project.
    As a speaker,I have presented before hundreds of librarians, government staff, defence scientists and business people - knowledge workers of all walks of life. Confident to experienced internet users have much of value they can learn. In addition to professional education, I also occasionally speak to primary and high school students on the topic of Information Warfare and Prominence. I think young audiences need the inspiration to see the internet information as more than the tossing of words at search engines.
    Furtherinformation on public lectures and seminars can be found here. If this interests you, may I just urge you to just make contact, to leave a name and contact details below, so I may try to come your way.

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    Before you depart, let me offer one further chance to learn internet search skills - the next time I publish a book or deliver a seminar near you. Drop me an email or leave me your contact details and I'll keep you informed.

    I'll also draw your attention towards this copyright statement - generous permission to use some of what you see here in your work.

    ...This form will send David Novak an email ...
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    Let me contact you.
    (by email, phone or mail)
    Would seminars interest you?
    New articles, publications?
    Know people I should meet?

    The Spire Project: Better ways to find information
     project background
      © 1996-2013 The Spire Project - all rights reserved except when explicitly stated otherwise. Please forward your leads and opinions to David Novak using the form above. Information and data put forward here is supplied in good faith and entirely without expressed or implied warranty or fitness for use. Contents are simply a collection of information intended but not promised to be correct and useful, gathered from many sources with limited editorial checking. Further, these articles are the thoughts of the authors alone and may not represent the beliefs of others involved. Oh, and here is a link to a friend Singer Bernadette Robinson who needs prominence, and a growing relationship with a great techy Australian Call Centre at OracleCMS.com.