[Sca-cooks] Search Techniques

James Prescott prescotj at telusplanet.net
Thu Oct 4 12:33:30 PDT 2012

A brief partial answer.  Five years ago if you wanted an old book you
had to go to a university library.  If it wasn't at your own university,
you had to do inter library loan.

Today, that's changing fast.  Very fast.  Google Books, plus the French
Gallica, plus Archive (only the facsimiles), plus Open Library, plus
assorted university and government and even personal libraries now have
facsimiles of old books not only available but also searchable, which is
something you can't do as easily with a printed book, even a well-indexed
printed book.

Most of the above are available free.  Some others are behind pay walls
that you would need subscribing library or university affiliation to use.

I've done a couple of research projects in the past two years (one cooking,
one non-cooking) that would have been almost literally impossible five
years ago.  A facsimile is 99% primary source, since I don't need to see
the actual physical book for my kind of research.

For me entry to all of the above is via Google or Google Scholar.  I will
occasionally check a really tough query using the other search engines,
but in the past two years they've never come through with something that
Google did not know about.  Ten years ago they would occasionally find
stuff that Google couldn't, and I keep hoping.

For questions, I'd still use this list, and other SCA lists, rather than
Facebook for queries, though that is slowly changing.  I work from a
desktop computer, not a laptop or phone.  I have one question pending
that I sent to a museum by email.

I sometimes will search online before going to a book that I know I have
in my library, because of the online ability to search within the book.

There is still nothing online that beats going directly to my big OED
(I have not bought the up-to-date digital version, though I probably
should).  Same thing for my half-dozen French dictionaries, Latin, etc.
I pick them up first before going online.  Oh, the older Larousse
Gastronomique also, the one before they modernized it to useless.

Still, your question is relevant since I find occasionally that I'm not
going to books that I possess, but hoping instead that an online search
will find me the equivalent information.  A form of creeping laziness.

For finding modern interpretations of old recipes, online, though I do
not make frequent use of these.


At 11:38 AM -0400 10/4/12, Johnna Holloway wrote:
>  This may seem a bit offbeat, but I thought maybe this list might 
> like the topic.
>  For a talk I am scheduled to give at a cookery conference down the road,
>  I have been looking once more into the larger question of how 
> people go looking for information on historical Medieval and 
> Renaissance cookery, foods, and/or recipes.
>  Where do you look for information and ideas on medieval foods and 
> feasts in 2012 as opposed to say back in 2002 or 1992? The web and 
> lists first?
>  Have the lists of yesteryear been supplanted by Facebook?
>  If seeking information, do you post the query before attempting to 
> look on your own?
>  Or do you Google first? Is this being driven by use of cellphones 
> and not computers? Is it easier to post the query than to search
>  on the smartphone? Do people also not respond to a query now 
> because it's harder to do so from a smartphone?
>  How about Resources at home? Do you buy fewer books?
>  How about using Resources/databases through a library? Do you ever 
> look through a book at home first?
>  How have your search techniques changed?
>  Medieval recipes? Do you look at books at home first or turn
>  to the web?  Which sites do you use and trust?
>  Have you dropped out of researching ? After an N number of years, 
> you no longer care to keep up with the field. You've retired.
>  I was told recently that someone did all of his/her medieval 
> cookery research for an SCA "cookbook"
>  by using Yahoo and the term "medieval". The author didn't check the 
> validity of the sources.
>  Yahoo was good enough! "All of the information [needed] is just there!"
>  When questioned if this was good enough, the author was of the 
> opinion that everyone's research was equally valid  and ok because 
> this
>  was the SCA.
>  Johnnae
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