Miscellaneous Notes is an irregular feature of the CSA Newsletter.A Conference in the Ether
Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano disrupted travel in so many ways that it has become truly infamous (though few of us can either spell or pronounce it). Among things disrupted was the KOSMOS conference to have been held at the University of Copenhagen. With so few people able to travel, the conference organizers managed, at the last minute, to stream conference papers "live," using PowerPoint© presentations and recorded audio. Conference participants were able not only to see and hear the papers but to chat online as well.
Comments have been very favorable on Aegeanet, and writers to various blogs have taken note (e.g., ancientworldonline.blogspot.com/2010/04/kosmos-conference-online-beginning.html, rogueclassicism.com/2010/04/20/conf-kosmos-conference-via-the-internet/, and www.intute.ac.uk/blog/2010/04/21/aegean-archaeology-kosmos-conference /).
The dramatic turn of events produced one huge positive: cost savings. As a result, some have suggested that this may be a good way to hold conferences in the future. Let us hope that thorough discussion will ensue so that the issues that were involved in this instance and others that might appear in different settings can be thoroughly and openly discussed. (A commentary attached to this article is one forum available for such a discussion, and readers may comment via email to CSA Director Harrison Eiteljorg, II; see the email contacts page.)PowerPoint: Friend or Foe
A front-page article in the NY Times for Tuesday, April 27, referred to the frequent use of PowerPoint in the U.S. military. The article, "We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint," by Elisabeth Bumiller, explores the way the program has been used and mis-used by the military. Academics, who are often equally addicted to the program, might find the article of interest, particularly in light of the reliance on PowerPoint for remote transmission of papers, as discussed above.Improving Google© Searches
Google is such a useful searching tool that it is easy to keep using it, even when the results are mediocre. The more advertisers the company courts successfully, the worse the search results seem to become. Many have trained themselves to ignore the ads on the right side of the results page. In addition, the first few links at the top of the page may also be there because of some monetary exchanges unrelated to the search request. Even then, unfortunately, the pages we find after a search have a major, glaring problem. They rarely include at the top of the list those pages that are, judging by their domain name, most directly related to the search.
It is possible to narrow the results to pages from such domains if you know the domain and search with that domain required (using the advanced search page). Domain names are often not obvious, though; many archaeological projects and many international companies use complex domain names that cannot be guessed. Fortunately, it is possible to try to find the domain name in order to narrow a search. Asterisks are acceptable in the domain name field for some advanced searches. (But it is not possible to create true, old-fashioned grep-style searches, and results can be unpredictable.) You can, for instance, search for all documents with propylaea.* as the domain name and find that there is both a propylaea.org and a propylaea.jp (no propylaea.com, though I thought such a domain did once exist). Such a search need not have any search terms other than the domain restriction. This approach -- searching for the domain name without other search terms -- can be helpful on occasion, providing a way to find the domain name to be included in an advance search.
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