FedWorld makes the case for federal bulletin boards

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Date: Apr. 1995
From: Searcher(Vol. 3, Issue 4)
Publisher: Information Today, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,536 words

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Psst! Wanna know a government secret? It's on a bulletin board (BBS). In fact, it is the bulletin board.

Federal bulletin boards are cheaper than commercial databases, more accessible than libraries and government employees, friendlier than the wilds of the Internet, and full of useful information. They're not new, but they are powerful, and they belong in your searching toolbox. And you can access FedWorld from the Internet, even through a Web site (see Table 1 below). You can go directly into some of its bulletin boards through the Internet.

Table 1: Internet Routes to FedWorld World Wide Web http://www.fedworld.gov Besides telnetting direct to the gateway and then into the bulletin boards, the FedWorld Web site has an alphabetic list of subject links to other home pages. For example, you can choose space and move to home pages offered by NASA facilities and research centers including a NASA Technical Report Server. Telnet/FTP Site fedworld.gov Currently the telnet site supports up to 50 simultaneous connections with queuing for calls waiting. Users can ftp all free files in the telnet site using ftp.fedworld.gov. Directories at the ftp site carry the same names as the "Libraries" at the Telnet site. Each ftp directory has a directory name followed by .LST >file with a description of each file in the directory. NTIS updates the list >file every morning. Each bulletin board has different offerings. For example, the White House library offers natural language searching from its telnet site. Select the F (find files) option from the W-House Library of Files menu, followed by option K for searching by keyword.

Sure, they will give you the usual stuff - economic indicators, census data, etc., but that's just for openers. Find export consultants, think tanks, earthquake facts and statistics, and information on food- and bloodborne pathogens. Peruse lists of federal job openings. Locate grants available from the National Institutes of Health. Even find citations to lawsuits filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act!

Federal BBSs are not intended to compete with commercial services. Their primary purpose is to enhance two-way communication between government and citizens, which means they've got to be easy to use. You don't need to be a Dialog hotshot. BBS search engines are far less sophisticated than those of commercial systems, usually without Boolean and adjacency capabilities.

The option "K" (for keyword searches from the "List Files" menu in the FedWorld Main Library) searches through both file names and descriptions, while option "W," searching by file name or partial file name, does not search the descriptions but does let you use wild cards. Wild cards work exactly the same way as in DOS. For example, you can enter "MEA*.*" and get MeasureNet.txt." Keyword searches work with single words, multiple words, and/or Boolean logic. When you enter a singular word, e.g., "meat," you get results using both the singular and the plural. When you use the word "meats," you get only results using the plural. As to limiting by date, you can list...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A16904444