THE JOURNAL OF EDUCATION, COMMUNITY, AND VALUES
by Lenny Charnoff <Lenny@learningtips4u.com>
.01 Mirror, Mirror On The Wall...
.02 What is the Best Search Engine For Me?
.03 Tip #1 -- Install The Google Tool Bar
.04 Tip #2 -- Look For Clustering Help
.05 Tip #3 -- Find Similar Pages And Resource Material
.06 Tip #4 -- Find Adobe PDF Files
.07 Tip #5 -- Filter Your Results By Domains, Links, Office Documents And Similar Pages
.01 Mirror, Mirror On The Wall... (return to index)
The high tech version of "mirror, mirror on the wall, what is the fairest search engine of them all" might be answered "Google". Or you might be surprised and the answer could be Vivismo, Wisenut or Teoma.
If you're like the average Internet user then you probably are using one of the following search engines:
.02 What Is The Best Search Engine For Me? (return to index)
Google is probably the choice for most of you. Google, the most popular search facility, is also the fastest search facility. Its speed is accomplished by networking thousands of inexpensive Linux OS computers into server farms. A typical search time with Google is less than a second.
Google can also filter results from individual top-level domains (i.e. org, com, edu). It offers you the opportunity to find sites similar to the term you are searching for and can also bring back the cached version if the site is down or defunct. Many web sites like pets.com or omnisky.com are gone and so would be the valuable information on those sites if not for the cached versions stored by Google.
Google provides the opportunity to search Usenet Newsgroups, archived back to 1995. No other search engine has this facility. It's a very powerful tool when researching across different news groups. Both video and digital images are searchable through Google. The Google filters can bring back jpg or gif files of any size. Those images are also thoughtfully protected by digital watermarks to avoid image theft.
The newest addition to Google is the News service that searches 4000 news sources and is updated every 15 minutes. For example if I use the terms "digital divide" and video, Google within 0.2 seconds returns a plethora of solid news articles. On the day of this writing that "digital divide" search brought back 22 articles in the last 30 days.
.03 Tip # 1- Install The Google Tool Bar (return to index)
This tool is my favorite Google feature. The tool bar searches for terms without having to launch the program within your browser. In addition, the tool bar can search out page information, cached versions, and page rank. It can also highlight your search terms throughout the retrieved document. The Google Tool Bar will even search within the site for additional information. What kind of timesavings does this offer me? In my consulting practice I use Google 10-15 times a day. My conservative estimate is that it saves me 10 seconds each search. At the end of the day that is about 90 seconds. So in a month's time the tool bar saves me at least a solid hour of waiting or opening unnecessary windows.
.04 Tip # 2 Look For Clustering Help (return to index)
Vivisimo Clustering Search Engine http://www.vivisimo.com
The origins of Vivisimo are similar to Google. Carnegie Mellon University research computer scientists created Vivisimo in June 2000. Vivisimo automatically categorizes search results into meaningful hierarchical folders. Vivisimo is called a meta search engine because it retrieves results from other search engines (like MSN, Looksmart, Fast, Gigablast). Vivismo really shines when you need to refine your search results and use those condensed results in a news or government search.
Let us examine a search for the Governor of Oregon and Dave Winer, a popular California software programmer. Google returns 12,300 hits for
John Kitzhaber. Dave Winer, because of his popularity among bloggers, brings back 33,000 hits. These numbers can easily overwhelm searchers and force them to give up after a cursory look at the first several pages. Vivisimo addresses this problem.
Vivisimo reduces the mass of retrieved information to 180 clusters for John Kitzhaber and 169 clusters for Dave Winer. Each cluster is further refined into several sub topics. For example while searching for Kitzhaber I found a "plan cluster". A sub-topic of "plan" was the "Oregon Health Plan" which the Governor authored.
Dave Winer practically invented blogging and his Scripting News is the longest running blog on the Internet. This accounts for the tremendous volume of hits and clusters. Vivisimo makes this information more manageable for you.
.05 Tip # 3 Find Similar Pages And Resource Material (return to index)
The obvious similarity between Google and Wisenut is that both programs offer a simple interface. Wisenut generates search groups that are called "wise guides". These are similar to Vivisimo categories. But Wisenut offers two other handy features. Sneek a Peek provides a window to quickly see if this is the page you thought it was or if the site is down or no longer exists. Wisenut also offers you the option of viewing other pages on that site related to your search.
This engine has the potential to be a Google Killer. The simple interface and downloadable tool bar are similar to Google. Teoma, using great marketing strategy, explains its search by using "3 R's". The first step is to research where you can retrieve general results. The next step is to refine the results. Teoma supplies suggested categories that usually help to narrow the search into manageable knowledge nuggets. The last "R" stands for resources. Resources are usually a compendium of links that find additional collections of data or web sites of experts in that particular field.
.06 Tip # 4 Find Adobe PDF Files (return to index)
Adobe PDF files
In my 10 years of searching for information on the Internet I have always found PDF files to be more valuable and more credible than most HTML pages. Educational institutions, associations and government agencies for the purpose of publication or distribution create the majority of PDF files. There are more white papers and more original research found in PDF files than in HTML files. The Google search engine is the only search engine to query PDF files with an advanced Boolean logic. Pew Internet is a prime example of web publishing using PDF files http://www.pewinternet.org.
.07 Tip #5 Filter Your Results By Domains, Links, Office Documents And Similar Pages (return to index)
The majority of the good search engines offer Boolean operators (i.e. and, or, not) and searches filtered by time and language. Google is the only search engine to offer filtering by language, domain, time, PDF, and Microsoft office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). In addition, Google filters Adobe Postscript files, similar pages and linked sites. Don't assume that the best result comes from an HTML or PDF page. Sometimes the best result can come from a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation or a link to one of the search results.
.08 Summary (return to index)
Google is my search engine of choice. There are times I cannot find what I'm looking for even after using Google's advanced Boolean operators. Those are the times when I try Vivisimo, Wisenut and Teoma.
Other Valuable Search References.
All The Web www.alltheweb.com
The Virtual Acquisition Shelf And News Desk - http://resourceshelf.freepint.com
ResearchBuzz - www.researchbuzz.com
Search Engine Watch - http://searchenginewatch.com/
*Search Engine Rankings http://www.onestat.com/html/aboutus_pressbox3.html
**Author Supplied Search Engines