Hacking Rhetoric

From today: CC-licensing, Search Tips and Readings

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First things first …


I’ve now posted the readings for Wednesday on the schedule page — in light of y’all’s current workloads and to let you focus on finishing up your assignments, I have cut the requirements down a bit. You’re welcome!

Note that the Ahmed link now goes to the copyrighted readings page … it was a direct link to the newspaper that published it, but they’ve locked it behind a paywall since I originally assigned it, so I’ve provided the PDF I saved some weeks ago and am robbing them of the chance to monetise your eyeballs by showing you ads.  The original source had a pretty picture, from memory, but we don’t lose a lot with this text-only version.

Added musing … Now that I think about it, this paywalling thing is another one of those happy accidents — if this piece were (still) freely available, the Australian would be getting 19 extra pageviews to boast about to their advertisers. Since it’s not, they’re not — neatly illustrating Doctorow’s point in his introduction (quick discussion in the next section below) about how releasing his work freely puts him at a net economic advantage.

Creative Commons

Since we treated this super briefly today, let me just drop off a few links for you:

Creative Commons — overall site.


Search for CC-licensed material (images, music, text, video).

Some Creative-Commons licensed material you have already encountered in this class — just off the top of my head …

  • Hacking the Academy
  • Makers (you might be interested in reading Doctorow’s introduction, in which he talks about why he chose CC-licensing for his work and how it has paid off)
  • The fancy image up top of this blog!

As I said in class, Creative Commons-licensed material lets you Do Stuff With Other Stuff — which is cool in and of itself. But as we move forward in the class, we’ll be composing works which do transform and build upon existing content — some your own, some other people’s. You might also like to incorporate elements from other people’s work, so beginning your search with CC-licensed material is the way to go!

Refining and Extending Your Searches

Several of you have asked me about refining or, having stalled out, expanding your searches. My best advice to you is that trawling through page after page of Google results returned by a single search is not going to get you very far — but amending your search terms WILL.

Consider incorporating new keywords based on material that’s come up in the sources you’ve chosen so far — search for names or companies that are mentioned, or synonyms that are used. You might also review other works by the same authors.

One of the most useful tools in your searching skillset are Boolean Operators — you can tell search engines to look not just for key words or “exact phrases”, but to look for combinations of words, or to exclude particular terms, examine only particular sites, exclude particular sites, etc.

Here’s Google’s guide to using Search Operators on their site.

And Google’s Advanced Search (which gives you the same kind of control but takes it out of the search bar, which may make you feel more comfortable).

This link walks you through some of the possibilities of the Library Catalogue (well, the ScoUT interface), including how to use Boolean operators to improve your search results.


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