Wikis: Changes and Additions
A global Wiki search
By Bruce McKinney
Wikis are the future of book buying and selling on the web. Based on extensive subject and category bibliographies that are always growing Wiki Bibliographies permit acquirers to quickly see, and optionally follow, all changes day to day within a field, be these changes additions to a bibliography, the posting of fresh material at traditional auctions or their fresh appearance in Books for Sale. Rather than searching disparate sites for potentially relevant material all item descriptions in each Wiki Bibliography are continuously matched for fresh material as they are posted. For the acquirer this is the basis of efficient collecting, for the seller efficient placement. Traditional book selling, in the internet era, imposes upon the buyer the obligation of knowledge and the requirement of extensive time. In the Wiki based approach, the threshold is interest rather than knowledge. The knowledge will come with experience and success. The underlying software continuously brings relevant material into view within each Wiki context. This month we have added a global search for material listed within each Wiki or alternatively listed anywhere within all the Wikis. The goals are clarity and speed. The potential acquirer should spend their time considering acquisitions rather than drifting between sites and search terms in the hope of finding something relevant. It is absurd to even suggest collectors run this gauntlet.
These days searching the internet, too often, is akin to searching a museum by candlelight. One's ability to see is limited by the power of the light. Books, manuscripts and ephemera are stuffed into the far corners of the net. Searching individual sites can be time consuming. Search engines look at many sites simultaneously but employ a lowest common denominator strategy to ensure as many sites as possible are searched. It is effective within limits but the results are often too vague to be useful for serious collecting. The equally important issue is that you have to know rather specifically what it is you are seeking. Absent that knowledge you will plow the same field again and again. In time, perceptive acquirers do develop terms and phrases to unearth the previously unknown and obscure but this process can take years to evolve. For many collectors, the path to success often ends in failure and frustration simply because the learning curve is too long.
For all who appreciate or desire to build collections the Wikis represent the future because they correctly address the fundamental issues for future collecting: reducing the knowledge needed to embark on a collecting career and minimizing the time necessary to stay current with the fast pace of change. What only the master collector might previously have known is increasingly embedded in the Wikis and accessible to all with an interest. The Wiki then inversely searches both auctions and Books for Sale every day for every reference and provides the matches as a link. Anyone checking the Wiki frequently will see material coming and going: a crystal clear snapshot in the blink of an eye.
This month we have added a global search for all Wikis that is provided on the Wiki landing page. On each Wiki page the same search is set to search that specific Wiki and can be reset to search all Wikis.
Wikis: Changes and Additions
Deep detail within a collecting focus
We have also added a new Wiki that is the best one so far. It is based on the "Check List of Publications on American Railroads before 1841" that was issued by the New York Public Library in 1942. It is a gem of precision. It identifies more than 2,800 related items as issued between 1800 and 1840.
For those looking to find this material we have developed extensive search terms to unearth matches which, while not yet perfect, will capture almost all related materials at auction and in Books for Sale, whether or not the material is actually in the bibliography. The matches, in time, will increase this bibliography to more than 3,500 items. For a collector this is both a very appealing area as well as a vivid demonstration of the power of collecting based on Wiki Bibliographies.
Included with this article are two images and various links.
The first image and link are to the recently revised Wiki Landing page. This page is the jumping off point when you select Wiki Bibliographies either from the pie chart or the brief menu under the sign-in box.
The second image is of the Wiki Global Search. Reach it by selecting Wiki Search. The default setting on the Wiki landing page is to search all Wikis. The same search, which appears as a link on all individual Wikis, is set to search that particular Wiki but can be reset to search any specific or all Wikis.
The third image is a Wiki Search Results page. The searches are quick. The results invite experimentation. On all Wikis there are links to Current Auction Matches and to Books for Sale Matches. These files suggest there is plenty of early railroad material available.
Finally, I want to note that the internal Wiki search parameters for searches for this newest Wiki employ a wider date range than is implied by the source name. We are matching all material that otherwise meets the search criteria up to 1870. That year is the hinge point, the before and after date for the development of railroads in America. Our expectation is that those who are interested in the earliest material will not feel abused by being offered material up to that date.