View Full Version : Searching and Wikipedia are a big deal


Zoot
11-24-2007, 01:37 PM
I think two of the biggest features the Kindle has over many similar devices are full-text search and the ability to do lookups to Wikipedia (and similar datasources).

Search is not entirely new, but not all competing devices support it and the Kindle's keyboard makes it a bit more convenient.

I often find myself thinking of passages I read in the past in some book and want to find them for reference. This is obviously a pain in a paper book which lacks any sort of search mechanism. With the Kindle I can do a quick full-text search and even clip out the passage I want and export it. This was not possible on my Sony 500.

The ability to temporarily sidetrack into Wikipedia (or some other reference work) is also a major change to the way I read. In the middle of reading a book or article you can bring up Wikipedia and read about a topic, then resume reading at the same place.

Currently you have to type in your search terms using the search button and the keyboard. It would be nice to be able to point to a line of text and then get a popup window of the words in that line and pick one to search on. You can do this now but only for a quick lookup of the built-in dictionary which is usually pretty useless, as it tends to only show you definitions for the easy words and quietly omits things it doesn't know. Also it does a really bad job in some cases such as the word "called" bringing up "CAL - Computer Aided Learning" as a definition. Clearly the computer could do with a little more learning of its own.

Anyway, both search and lookup are features which go beyond replicating the paper-book experience and are likely to change the way we read.

Z.

Alisa
11-24-2007, 01:42 PM
It wasn't the only reason I chose the Kindle over the competitors but it was the biggest.

DrMoze
11-24-2007, 09:11 PM
These may be enhanced functions for some, but not essential for an ebook device imo. I ahve plenty of access to computers and the Internet at home, at work, and on the go (blackberry browser). I bought an ebook device to simply read books comfortably, and it does that very well. Plus you can carry a ton of books along with little weight. Variety, screen quality, battery life and simplicity are most important for me (and perhaps for many others who also have access to computers and like to read books). Search capabilities and Wikipedia access aren't even on my list of wants. Leisure reading is an escape for me, and my ebook device fills it nicely with no distractions. :D

Tom Swift
11-25-2007, 12:08 AM
It is too bad that Wikipedia is slowly becoming the information standard to the world. Apple has integrated it in its new OS and now Amazon has as well. I work at a high school and no teacher allows their students to use it as a reference source, yet how do you tell the kids it is worthless as a proper reference when it is touted everywhere?

Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years of American Independence (http://www.theonion.com/content/node/50902)

DaleDe
11-25-2007, 12:58 AM
It is too bad that Wikipedia is slowly becoming the information standard to the world. Apple has integrated it in its new OS and now Amazon has as well. I work at a high school and no teacher allows their students to use it as a reference source, yet how do you tell the kids it is worthless as a proper reference when it is touted everywhere?

Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years of American Independence (http://www.theonion.com/content/node/50902)

It is certainly not worthless but the items need to be verified. 99.44% pure.

andym
11-25-2007, 04:17 AM
I wish I'd had Wikipedia when I'd been a student. It's a wonderful education and information resource. (I'm still not buying a Kindle though).

dugbug
11-25-2007, 07:08 AM
I love the local search of books feature. A while back I was desperately trying to recall the Douglas Adams book where the main character is walking alongside a road and is rudely splashed by a speeding porche with a bumper sticker that says "My other car is a Porche". Drove me up the wall... I thought it was one of the DG Detective Agency ones but it turns out it was "so long and thanks for all the fish".

I just know that's going to happen again :)

And of course, a search of the phrase on wikipedia finds it as well so +2 for kindle.

-d

FourOhFour
11-25-2007, 07:37 AM
It is too bad that Wikipedia is slowly becoming the information standard to the world. Apple has integrated it in its new OS and now Amazon has as well. I work at a high school and no teacher allows their students to use it as a reference source, yet how do you tell the kids it is worthless as a proper reference when it is touted everywhere?

Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years of American Independence (http://www.theonion.com/content/node/50902)

So, is The Onion a valid reference source? ;-)

Yeah, there is some stuff on wikipedia that is just plain wrong. Mostly due to jerks that think it is fun to pee in other people's pools. This is why you check the citations given for the information you want to use. If there aren't any, well, the article is probably bogus.

There are also some things posted here on MobileRead that are just plain wrong. Doesn't make MobileRead a poor resource, just means you shouldn't take everything said as gospel.

astra
11-25-2007, 09:25 AM
These may be enhanced functions for some, but not essential for an ebook device imo. I ahve plenty of access to computers and the Internet at home, at work, and on the go (blackberry browser). I bought an ebook device to simply read books comfortably, and it does that very well. Plus you can carry a ton of books along with little weight. Variety, screen quality, battery life and simplicity are most important for me (and perhaps for many others who also have access to computers and like to read books). Search capabilities and Wikipedia access aren't even on my list of wants. Leisure reading is an escape for me, and my ebook device fills it nicely with no distractions. :D

Ditto.

nekokami
11-25-2007, 10:21 AM
Wikipedia articles often have handy links to primary sources, though. Generally, encyclopedias haven't been allowed as reference sources for student projects, and in that sense Wikipedia is no different. Tertiary references like this are a good place to start, and can be useful to answer a quick question, but students need to learn to look for primary sources.

That being said, I think the Wikipedia lookup is a great feature of the Kindle (even though I don't own one). The iLiad can provide it using add-on browsers via wireless, but only if you're near a wifi hotspot. I don't think any of the other dedicated readers come close.

HarryT
11-25-2007, 10:45 AM
That being said, I think the Wikipedia lookup is a great feature of the Kindle (even though I don't own one). The iLiad can provide it using add-on browsers via wireless, but only if you're near a wifi hotspot. I don't think any of the other dedicated readers come close.

On the iLiad you can carry the whole of Wikipedia (minus the pictures) with you and look it up locally. The whole thing fits onto a 4GB CF card. See the iLiad forum for details.

slayda
11-25-2007, 10:48 AM
It is too bad that Wikipedia is slowly becoming the information standard to the world. Apple has integrated it in its new OS and now Amazon has as well. I work at a high school and no teacher allows their students to use it as a reference source, yet how do you tell the kids it is worthless as a proper reference when it is touted everywhere?

Wikipedia Celebrates 750 Years of American Independence (http://www.theonion.com/content/node/50902)

Interesting note on this though - A coworker insisted that he was correct in his spelling of "alot". When he looked it up on the Wikipedia, it said, "The way a moron spells 'a lot'."

tsgreer
11-25-2007, 11:19 AM
These may be enhanced functions for some, but not essential for an ebook device imo. I ahve plenty of access to computers and the Internet at home, at work, and on the go (blackberry browser). I bought an ebook device to simply read books comfortably, and it does that very well. Plus you can carry a ton of books along with little weight. Variety, screen quality, battery life and simplicity are most important for me (and perhaps for many others who also have access to computers and like to read books). Search capabilities and Wikipedia access aren't even on my list of wants. Leisure reading is an escape for me, and my ebook device fills it nicely with no distractions. :D

Well they aren't essential for me, but nice to have. I don't always read next to a computer and I don't have a internet enabled phone. So when I am at Taco Bell eating and reading, it's nice to be able to search something real quick. And since it doesn't really take away from my ebook reader, it's cool to have.

tsgreer
11-25-2007, 11:30 AM
It is too bad that Wikipedia is slowly becoming the information standard to the world. Apple has integrated it in its new OS and now Amazon has as well. I work at a high school and no teacher allows their students to use it as a reference source, yet how do you tell the kids it is worthless as a proper reference when it is touted everywhere?

I am always surprised at the people who criticize Wikipedia. No, it's not 100% accurate, but it's a very good FREE resource tool. As with anything, you should always check back-up sources, but is there anything even close to having as much info and as easy to use? It has links to most of it's sources and in my experience has been accurate most of the time. Besides the very IDEA of Wikipedia is pretty cool, for the most part the self-policing policies are pretty good.

Sure, every once in a while you have someone prank on it, but for the most part if you see something that isn't accurate, then you can change it and list your sources. IMHO, the schools that outright ban it rather than show examples of how to use it (or any resource material for that matter) appropriately are making themselves look silly.

The students just use it at home anyway and laugh at how lame and out of touch the teachers are. My son is 17, so I have plenty of real world experience in that!

Now I have the utmost respect for any teacher here or anywhere, but I do have to say that in some of my meetings with my son's teachers, there is a lot of "well we didn't get to do that when we were their age, so they don't get to do it either" attitude.

Sometimes adaptation is a good thing. Just because I had to actually go to a library, find a dictionary and look up a word rather than "google" it, doesn't make "googling" a dictionary bad. It just makes it easier to look up a word. Same thing with Wikipedia or other online research tools. Of course, this is just my IMHO. :)

sfernald
11-25-2007, 12:42 PM
These may be enhanced functions for some, but not essential for an ebook device imo. I ahve plenty of access to computers and the Internet at home, at work, and on the go (blackberry browser). I bought an ebook device to simply read books comfortably, and it does that very well. Plus you can carry a ton of books along with little weight. Variety, screen quality, battery life and simplicity are most important for me (and perhaps for many others who also have access to computers and like to read books). Search capabilities and Wikipedia access aren't even on my list of wants. Leisure reading is an escape for me, and my ebook device fills it nicely with no distractions. :D

That's what I thought. And I was totally content with my Sony Reader. But with Kindle, it gives me more than just a means to read my favorite short stories and novels. With the magazines, and the newspapers and the blogs, and the web browser, I'm finding it is a replacement for my laptop. Most of the time on my laptop I spend reading news and sites such as engadget. The reader with the newspapers and the blogs gives me I think a much better experience as a reader - that is, it removes the web sites, most of the graphics, the ads, and just gives me what I want which is the articles. I didn't even really realize that 95% of why i like the web is just the text, reading the articles. Nothing gets me faster to the text than the kindle. I'm getting to the point where I don't know how I lived without my daily newspapers and constantly updating blogs coming in my kindle.

Also, I find that I'm the kind of reader that constantly changes what he's reading. That is I usually don't just want to read one novel all day. Sometimes I want to read the news or magazine articles (across a wide spectrum of subjects) or other times I want to read internet news and articles (usually more technology oriented). I might switch from novel to blog to newspaper back to blog then to magazine maybe 20 times a day. That's just me, but I find the kindle gives me all the kinds of things I like to read much better than the sony reader.

It is just like the reader, but so much more with the content that exists. I can't even imagine how rad it will be when there are 1000000+ books, 1000+ magazines, 100+ newspapers, and 10000+ blogs. I have strong confidence that amazon will get us there.

As of right now (and this might change) it has removed the desire for me to have an "always-connected" laptop for accessing the internet. Keep in mind though I do have a iphone which functions great for im, email, videos and music and graphical web if and when I need those as well.

huari
11-25-2007, 10:30 PM
The search feature sounds terrific which is something lacking in the Sony Reader.
Does the search function work with personal documents like converted txt? that is if you select a line, does the built in dictionary work?

thanks,
tony

nekokami
11-26-2007, 11:02 AM
On the iLiad you can carry the whole of Wikipedia (minus the pictures) with you and look it up locally. The whole thing fits onto a 4GB CF card. See the iLiad forum for details.
I know, but a) I only have a 4GB CF card, and I have other things to store locally and b) I think of Wikipedia as "dynamic" rather than "static" content, i.e. I'd prefer to have the most recent version of an article, and access to its history. So while the portable version is a good idea and if I were going to be away from wireless connectivity for a while I might rearrange my system to be able to pull and store a copy of Wikipedia, for the most part I'd prefer a live connection.

Nate the great
12-03-2007, 01:09 PM
The search feature sounds terrific which is something lacking in the Sony Reader.
Does the search function work with personal documents like converted txt? that is if you select a line, does the built in dictionary work?

thanks,
tony

It should work, yes.