I call her the indispensable Mercedes Schneider. When I entered the blogosphere, hers was one of the first names I learned, because I kept coming back to her blog to get the information that wasn't anywhere else. I have (I hear) a reputation for cranking out a lot of writing, but Schneider posts almost daily, writes books, and carries a full time teaching load. And her posts are usually the result of actual research (unlike some of us who just hop online and shoot off my mouth). Schneider is prolific, but she also brings hard facts and serious sourcing to her work. If you are not following her blog, you should be.
A Practical Guide To Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies is a thorough look at how to go cyberdigging, looking at both the techniques and the tools that can be used to uncover whatever truth is lurking out there. Because she provides plenty of examples and demonstrations of how these tools and techniques have worked for her, Schneider also gives us a sort of greatest hits collection. Remember that time she figured out who the secret donor to Education Post was? Or just how much out-of-state money was sneaking into Massachusetts to support raising the charter cap? Or how the Louisiana ed chief was quietly married to the head of an organization that te ed department deals with?
There's an astonishing amount of information out there that is hidden--but not really hidden all that well. Schneider is an expert in uncovering those nuggets of information that some folks wish would stay hidden.
Schneider gives away her secrets here, and and does so in a clear, concise manner that can be followed and understood, even by someone whose computer skills are limited to turning on the machine. Yes, there are things in here that more experienced netizens already know, but still plenty more to learn. It is a practical guide that lends itself to being used like a handbook or manual; to that end it is short, clear, and well-organized. It is a series of lessons from a top-notch teacher in book form, as well as a chance to peek over her shoulder and watch her work.
And while this is clearly about education reform issues, these techniques and tools would be perfectly useful in a broad assortment of areas.
The book is available now, and you should get a copy or yourself, and a copy for the other activist in your life. The information is practical and useful and, in this day and age, indispensable. I recommend that you buy this.