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Swicki is a new collaborative search engine, with one or two features that I like a lot, although it is still not the perfect customisable search engine for me.
Firstly it lets you select which websites it is searching. Rather than the whole web you can select up to 50 sites to get your results form – helping to focus on specific information, as well as helping to weed out the spammers and other search engines which can clog up search results.
Unfortunately it doesn’t only bring results from your selection – it drops other results from the web beneath the first ten or so from your selections.
It is highly collaborative because anyone who uses the search engine can rank the results they get – and the higher ranking results start to move up the results for the next people who use the search engine. With many searches you can find too many similar references appearing – but using this ranking system can help sift through multiple results using other people’s knowledge and preferences.
You can also add comments, which appear with the results. This is a good way of adding signposting to areas of particular interest, or warning of resources which don’t deliver what it says on the box.
I’ve used it to make a search engine to help people from the voluntary and community sector find useful information about ICT. It searches key resources such as the ICT Hub Knowledgebase, TechSoup and similar sites. You can view it at http://community-ict-swicki.eurekster.com/
Not only does it work on it’s own page but I’ve also added it to my blog – take a look on the right hand menu.
It’s not the perfect customisable search engine yet. Ideally it would search only the sites you include, rather than the whole web as well. And it doesn’t seem to have any keyword matching function which helps deliver specific results to match key words. But the comments and ranking features are very nicely done and show the way ahead for the next generation of knowledge management style search tools.
Take a look at other uses in the Swicki directory Swicki Directory

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www.community.brighton.co.uk is a community portal, a one stop shop
for informatiion about and resources for the community sector in
Brighton & Hove. We have some funding form theplacetobe.net to
overhaul what’s there and we started in earnest on this project this
week.
We’ve started by sketching out what we want the site to be able to do:
– Directory of local community organisations and the services they
provide to the local community
– Local community jobs
– Community news service
– Community events diary
– Community documents library
– Funding information
– Local training directory
– Community venues guide
– Information about local community sector support services
– Advice and information about how to run a community organisation
— Media, key people in the Council and other important contacts
— Good practise issues: fundraising, marketing, managing volunteers,
governance, planning, finance, HR, management, office management/
administration, beneficiary involvement
The next stage is to put some flesh to these descriptions, quantify
the work needed and begin planning out the work for the next 12 weeks
or so
We would hope to several of these tools available by mid-Feb and have
a launch site ready for a City Information Network meeting we’re
planning for mid-March
Along the way I hope we can involve users in the design process,
bring some llocal volunteers into help and work with partners who
could help to maintain and update relevant information within the site.
Just before then we have to work out a project management methodology
for the team [me, Peter and Luke]. This should be up and running by
the end of April [ha ha]

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I’m setting up a City Information Network meeting in Brighton in March so I’ve started thinking about what it will be and how to run it.
It will be a forum for people to discuss city information resources, something like an event we ran back in 2000 – see the notes on our website. This time I think we need to include information from the whole city, not just what we called community information, ie not for profit and charitable/community/voluntary and public.
This reflects the work we’ve done since then on theplacetobe.net which is one of very few cross-sector bodies considering local information issues in a practical way.
This is a growing area of interest often referred to as civic knowledge management.
In the internet age this means [to me] the concerted effort required to ensure the best quality information is available for and about a local community.

Healthy communities

As an example take the health of the local community and its access to information which may help maintain or improve their health.
To get the best quality information we need the Council to collaborate with the Primary Care Trust to provide information about health and social services in the area. We want the Argus to chip in with its features on health which provide accessible advice and pointers on a range of local health issues.
Then there’s a health section in ESCIS – a directory of local community information published by the Council and maintained by library staff.
And don’t forget information about health services in the area on the sites of the people who provide them – dentists, doctors, alternative therapists and more – just look at the 1,350,000 results when you put brighton UK + health into Google

A forum for informaton providers
So the City Information Network could provide a local forum to address a number of issues:
— what are the key health information resources which everyone in the city should know about?
— what do we think of their quality?
— how can the people providing these resources improve their information service?
— is it possible to the improve access to and the quality of the information services by working together?
— how can the p2b.net search engine and other shared information resources help improve the situation?

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