Today’s quick tip is from a presentation I’ll be giving on May 14 on business backgrounding and due diligence research. If you’re an info pro in the Toronto area, please join me for what I hope will be an information-rich session. You can sign up here.
In Canada, corporations can be formed in all provinces and territories as well as federally. However, searching by director name is only possible for a federally registered corporation. You can use the site: command in Google on the Corporations Canada site, or use the Canadian Federal Corporations and Directors database in FPInfomart, though this latter resource is populated by the vendor and is not comprehensive.
I’m often frustrated by the fact the Google customizes search results based on my search history and geographical location. Often I need to search a wider scope of sources than is spat out in Google.ca or even Google.com.
Here is a list of country-specific Google search engines — 158 in all — to help you do just that. If you don’t know the local language, use Chrome to translate the pages. Be sure to delete your search history and log out of Google if you’re logged in, so you don’t get any results based on your previous searches.
Photo source: Simon Steinberger via Global Panorama, Flickr
I recently came across Newspaper Map, an interactive map of over 10,000 news outlets from around the world. Each pin links to the homepage of a news outlet, and provides links to Google translations in various languages (Chrome will also provide an option to translate the site). Digitized historical newspapers are also available by clicking “hist.,” though these are limited.
If you do any kind of research on foreign companies, it’s imperative to know how the companies are structured. Canadian businesses fall into one of four categories — sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or cooperative — and corporations usually carry the designation Inc., Corp., or Ltd.
For foreign companies, there’s an array of other designations and extensions. This page provides a list of these extensions and explains what the terms mean and where they are used. The list also helps narrow your search if you don’t know what country a company is based in.
For international due diligence and investigative research, I’ve found Investigative Dashboard to be a wonderful resource:
Investigative Dashboard (ID) has been developed by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), the world’s leading cross border investigative reporting organization. OCCRP designed Investigative Dashboard as a transnational collaborative effort to help journalists and civil society researchers expose organized crime and corruption around the world. It hosts three core tools: a crowd-sourced database of information and documents on persons of interest and their business connections, a worldwide list of online databases and business registries, and a research desk where journalists can go for help in sourcing hard to find information.
The collection of business registries and related databases is terrifically useful.
The Internet Archive has received a lot of attention recently, and if you haven’t read this New Yorker article, I urge you to do so. If you’re not already in love with the Internet Archive, you will be after reading that piece, as well as this one titled “Never Trust a Corporation to Do a Library’s Job.”
The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine is an indispensable tool for historians, journalists, and investigative researchers of all types. One handy tool that I use often is Memento Time Travel, which provides point-in-time searches on the Wayback Machine as well as a number of other online archives. It is also available as a Firefox and Chrome add-on.
Another useful tool for searching things as they appeared in the past is the sliding time scale for Google Maps’ Street View images. Once you have your target address showing in Street View, notice that there’s an information box at the upper-left corner that shows the address, city, and date of the image you are looking at. Click on the date and you’ll get a slider showing all the available images for that address, which can date back several years. When you click on the image from a previous time, you’ll not only get the target address as it appeared then, but you can rotate the view and see the surrounding area.
Given Google’s tendency to constantly change its offerings, who knows how long this feature will last (and that’s why we need non-profit organizations like the Internet Archive!), but for now, it’s a unique and handy historical search tool.
Photo source: Beatrice Murch, Flickr
Ever wonder how you can see someone’s past activities on LinkedIn? While your connections’ posts and activities show up on your LI home page, when you visit someone’s page on LI, you see only their profile, not their “wall” of past posts, like on Facebook.
This is somewhat hidden on LI, but it is possible to find. When you visit someone’s profile, click on the little arrow next to “Send a message” and the first option is “View recent activity.” This will bring you to a page with the person’s recent posts, likes, and profile changes (if they’ve set their settings to publish updates about profile changes).
You can see someone’s activities from the past two weeks even if they’re not a connection.
In an effort to blog more often and share more of what I know, I’m starting a new series of posts called Quick Tip Tuesday. Every Tuesday I’ll share a new research resource, a nifty search methodology, or an important lesson gleaned from my years of experience as a researcher. Perhaps I’ll even include items that have helped me in running my professional or personal life.
If you have any tips to share, I’d love to hear them. Please share them in the comments or email me.
Here are a couple of additional sites to update my previous post on finding data and statistics on the open web.
Knoema draws socioeconomic data from a large number of government, non-profit, academic, and corporate sources — 500 sources, in fact. The sheer size of this site makes it an incredible source of information, from common to obscure. Data can be found by country, topic, or source, and it can be visualized and exported. You can also create a personalized profile to save and share your visualizations. For more information about the company and the site, take a look at this Guardian Datablog post.
Index Mundi is similar to Knoema, though smaller in the number of sources and databases it draws on. It presents country profiles and statistics in user-friendly formats like maps, charts, and tables and browsable categories.
Photo source: Simon Cunningham, Flickr