Education search engine

I recently needed to search for academics in a particular field of sustainability. Standard web searches weren’t focused enough, so I looked for an education custom search – but couldn’t find one.

Now, I can easily search all .edu sites by putting site:.edu in Google. Or search all US, UK and Australian education domain sites by using site:.edu OR site:.ac.uk OR site:.edu.au in Google. But I wanted to search as widely as possible, so I built my own custom search engine.

This tool covers many countries, and many sites for universities and other educational institutions. It include universities from countries such as Canada, France and Bulgaria which don’t have education domains (e.g. Queens University is queensu.ca). So it was a fair bit of work, finding lists of universities, manipulating the layout and adding them to the search engine, but the result, for me, is a useful search tool.

Here it is. I hope it can be useful for someone else as well.


Note: you can also find this custom search easily by going to Appropedia and looking up “Education Search Engine“.

Public Domain Information on Science, Engineering and the Environment

Public domain (or PD for us open content geeks) is the absence of any copyright restrictions and licensing requirements – public domain content gives you absolute freedom in how you use it. This is important in, say, a wiki, where public domain content can be used as the basis of an article – as was done for many articles in Wikipedia, using old, out-of-copyright encyclopedia articles.

The Public Domain Review has published a Guide to Finding Interesting Public Domain Works Online, a great guide to finding public domain cultural works, in particular. But they’ve missed my favorites – the scattered works of the US federal government.

Appropedia is about science and technology – not necessarily the newest technology, but the most appropriate technologies and methods in construction, energy, water, sanitation, agriculture and other areas related to sustainable living. Guides and manuals, best practice, reports, impact studies, analysis – this kind of content is often found in governmental and intergovernmental publications, and while most governments’ works are copyrighted, in a few cases it is open content.

In particular, work created by officers of the U.S. federal government is generally public domain, by law. However, it’s not enough to searching in the*.gov domain, as that includes vast amounts of state and local government material which is not public domain, or even open-licensed. These pages also don’t use anything like the Creative Commons “mark” which helps search engines identify pages by license.

For that reason I’ve put together a custom search engine for the public domain – mainly searching the .gov domain while excluding a long list of non-PD .gov sites (more than 400 so far, most of them identified manually). It needs more work, possibly by an IP intern, identifying and excluding non-PD sites, and the onus is on the user to check the status of the material, but if you’re after public domain material of a serious nature, try it out.

Appropedia’s Public Domain Search:

Searching the green dev wikisphere

There is an ecosystem of wiki websites on sustainability, design and development issues.

Appropedia is a large and broad site; others include small but active communities and NGOs doing good, focused work (e.g. Greenlivingpedia and Akvopedia), wikis run by multilateral organizations (e.g. the UNDP’s WaterWiki and the OECD’s Wikiprogress and Wikigender), and (sadly) wikis where nothing has happened for years, and the community appears to have scattered.The ecosystem isn’t exactly thriving – even when we’re friendly (and we usually are) we don’t talk and we don’t share as much as we’d like.

As communities we want to collaborate and encourage each other, but as individuals we’re busy – and I’m as guilty as anyone. What can help is just being aware of what is on other wiki sites – knowing of good wiki pages out there in the green wikisphere, to learn from, borrow from and link from our own pages. That can even lead to the odd bit of drive-by editing on another wiki – all the better.

To that end, here’s a tool I’ve made: a search engine for green and development wikis.

It’s a Google custom search of over 40 wiki sites. Apologies to the good wikis I haven’t named in this blog post, but I hope you’ll check that your site shows up in the search results.

If you want to who’s writing about something on which wiki, this can help. The results are a little quirky, so allow a few seconds to scan the list to find what you want, and maybe try different search terms. Give it a try, and let me know.

May it add a little more unity to our wiki ecosystem.