I have for many years been closely involved in extracting free technology information from the INTERNET. I believe I have developed a real skill at this and want to offer to do free searches for all the users of digivu.co.za. Either leave a comment or email me – unless you request otherwise, I will publish the result as it will surely interest others. Note that for more complex technology information and evaluation you could use the Food Industries Information service.
Normally there is all sorts of information available – as an example I searched on extrusion and came up with the following:
There are obvious places to look, like Wikipedia
The interesting thing about Wikipedia is that it seems to be as reliable as any other encyclopedia. A study by Nature of Wikipedia and Britanica found that there were only 8 serious errors in the entries evaluated. Four of these from Wikipedia and four from Encyclopedia Britannica. They also found that while Wikipedia articles had 162 less serious errors Britannica had 123. These results were disputed and the measuring of the reliability of Wikipedia information is ongoing, but seems to indicate Wikipedia is a legitimate source of information.
In any field such there are always a number of websites that are recognized as suppliers of information e.g. FAO, Practical Action, Unido, CTA, GTZ for smaller scale food processing. Sometimes for a specialised technology these are not as useful and more attention needs to be paid to other sources. In this case only Practical Action, amongst the above sources, seems to have any information at all.
(click image for full story online)
However, these sources are often sufficient to provide whatever is required.
SEARCH FOR PDFs
Using a knowledge of how to search and your understanding of the industry you are searching, allows you to find all types of useful information. For example searching for pdf documents only, gets you into areas where your chance of finding something useful is larger – for instance academic reports. As an example this one presents 30 pages of pretty broad and clear introductory information on extrusion.
(click image for full story online)
Universities, government departments and associations are often good sources.
Never forget that the equipment suppliers have excellent information on food processing technology and business. They are often prepared to share it openly in an effort to attract customers. As an example (and not a recommendation) Clextral offers some useful information on extrusion.
This type of information needs to be used with caution because its actually advertising and needs to be evaluated like any advertising.
A picture being worth a thousand words, indicates the value of seeing a piece of equipment in operation. The fact that 48 hours of video are downloaded to YouTube every minute of the day, means that there is more than likely something of value to watch. Like this video from Buhler on making an expanded snack:
Search Engines make searching too easy! Whatever word/s you enter are going to yield many results, possibly too many! Which is likely to make you worry about finding the useful information in amongst all that is generated by the search. Alternately you may miss information if your search is not accurate.
Take time to learn how the search engine works and learn the features that make your search more effect and efficient – things like searching by time, searching particular web domains, searching via images, excluding results, literal searches, boolean mechanisms etc.
BUILD A LIBRARY
Avoid the temptation to print and file the information you collect. Use read it later services, downloading, databases, structured storage and purpose designed software like Apple’s iBooks to sort everything you find. Then use searches to find the information when you need it.
The above information has all been legitimately posted on the internet. It is also possible to source information illegally, much like pirating music, which I do not recommend.
Often a legitimate search with identify information posted on a legitimate website which seems rather suspect, which the user could legitimately used assuming that the site had made sure this information could be shared legally.
For example, although the book above shows up on a GOOGLE search and is downloadable from a legitimate university website, I suspect downloading and using it would be breaking the copyright. As to reading it online, I am just not sure, although this is the equivalent of reading the book in the university library.