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Welcome! I am Jason Nguyen, a graduate student in ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Bloomington, and this blog is where I make observations about music, culture, and academic life.

Advanced Googling AKA “How I found UNESCO ICH meeting notes”

For the past two weeks, I’ve been digging deeply into Vietnam’s various forays into UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage policies, particularly from the perspective of (1) Vietnamese media reports and (2) documents produced by UNESCO.  I used two different techniques for keeping up with both of these fields…

1) Google Reader and RSS feeds

For over a year, I have used my Google Reader account to subscribe to the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds belonging to various Vietnamese news media outlets’ websites.  Most large news organizations have specific RSS feeds for different topics, so I just subscribed to the “Art and Culture” or “Music and Entertainment” feed or something like that.  Some newspapers did that not have RSS feeds, but I have been using Page2RSS ( http://page2rss.com ) to make my own RSS feeds based on the main page of the Arts section of an online newspaper.

The net result was that Google crawled all of these sites constantly for me, dumping summaries of the articles into a folder labeled “Vietnamese” in my Google Reader account.  For the past two weeks, I have simply searched that folder looking for keywords: “UNESCO”, “intangible”, “ca tru”, etc.  These would take me to the summaries, with links to the originals, which I could then clip and save.  Thus, without any work beyond the initial setup, I had a full searchable archive of everything in the Vietnamese media about art and culture for an entire year.  By changing my search terms, I could look into anything else, like Vietnamese media portrayal of American pop culture (Twilight is a BIG DEAL in Vietnam right now for some reason).

Sometimes, I had to dig further, though, which takes me to my second strategy.

2) Advanced Google searches

There are a number of really awesome filters that you can do in Google search.  My favorites are “site:” and “ext:”.  For example, I could do this:

Search: “ca tru” UNESCO site:tienphong.vn

that would search the Tien Phong newspaper’s online site for all references to both the “ca tru” genre and UNESCO.  I put quotes around “ca tru” so that Google would know to search for that exact term, not just the words “ca” and “tru” individually.  Another example:

Search: Viet Nam intangible site:unesco.org ext:pdf

UNESCO releases a lot of documents, nearly all in PDF format.  Rather than scanning through its site, which is a bit convoluted, I can look for all files with the extension “.pdf” on the site with the words “viet”, “nam”, and “intangible”.  Using this technique, I found some really amazing UNESCO meeting minutes/notes just hanging out on their site that would have been nearly impossible to dig up any other way.   I could do a second search using “ext:doc” if I wanted to see if there were any Word documents.

* * *

So for folks working with really public stuff, keep this in mind and it might help you sift through all the information in a more efficient way.

Ca tr

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