Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Searching #75: Google and Beyond

This module on Searching will consist of four parts: general search engines; searching for sound effects; searching for images; and searching for videos. Together they are worth two training hour credits.

Are you in a rut when you search the Internet? Maybe you suspect that your bias for a particular way to search could be limiting your results. If so, it’s time to try BlindSearch , developed by Michael Kordahi and described as a “search engine taste test.” The goal of this site is simple: What happens when you remove the branding from the top 3 search engines? How differently will you perceive the results?

Beyond Google, Yahoo!, and the newer Bing (from Microsoft), there are lots of other search engines out there. Which is #1 with users? Check out the stats on Hitwise, which monitors and updates both the volume of traffic on search engines, and the number of visits to each.

Looking under the surface, what really is it that makes a search engine work? The Berkeley Library took a look at the detailed criteria that make a search engine perform well. This includes factors such as: How big is the database that is searched? How current? How fast is the search? In what ways can you limit searches? How are the results displayed? How are they ranked?

1) Type in at least three queries in Blindsearch, hit search, and then vote for the column which you believe best matches what you were seeking. The columns are randomized with each search. How did your favorite search engine rate in the three tries? Do you think this will affect how you search in the future?

2) What search engine was #1 on Hitwise the week that you searched? How did it compare to its closest competitor? Do the usage statistics match your own personal choice of a favorite?

3) Marketing of search engines requires that they continually add new features that they hope will appeal to you. Explore the features of one of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, or Bing). What new things did you discover that you would find useful?

Image Credit: Jupiterimages

This module is brought to you by Nancy Agafitei (CC), Christi Whittington (KW), and Jim Johnson (KW).