Search cube!

searchcube is a graphical search engine that presents search results in a compact, visual format. It searches

the World Wide Web for websites, videos and images and displays previews of each result on a unique, three-dimensional cube.

Once your search results appear, you can use the arrow keys, the SHIFT key and the mouse to interact with your searchcube.

Mouse over the images and get a visual preview of the site. I have a lot of fun with the results of my search on information literacy. I don’t think we are looking at a tool to drill for in depth information here – but I can see a very good discussion around research, information literacy and more using this tool with kids.

Problem? images included in the search make it a bit more complex to identify the source than traditional image searching (what has happened to the world when a Google image search can be described as ‘traditional’). Advanced searching ? no! But then I suspect this is just a new niche, not a replacement for other tools.

There has to be something fun I can use this for as well as a teaching tool! What do you think?

Cuil could be the cool new way to search

CNN reports that an ex-Google team is attempting to take on the Giant with the release of their new search tool named Cuil (pronounced cool, after a character named Finn McCuill in Celtic folklore). Reports to date are not bursting with enthusiasm  – but I think that this just might be worth keeping an eye on for now.

Rather than trying to mimic Google’s method of ranking the quantity and quality of links to Web sites, Cuil’s technology drills into the actual content of a page. And Cuil’s results will be presented in a more magazine-like format instead of just a vertical stack of Web links. Cuil’s results are displayed with more photos spread horizontally across the page and include sidebars that can be clicked on to learn more about topics related to the original search request.

While criticism is easy, it is also important to remember what Google looked like in the beginning – which after all wasn’t all that long ago. I remember when AltaVista was king! and when this new search tool called Google arrived.

So what will become of Cuil?  For now, I like the fact that as soon as you enter a search term, some suggestions come up immediately to refine the term.

Just because Google has become synonymous with search, I like that an exGoogle team is building this tool, because I do think that what Google teams do is creative, imaginative and robust. If they got disenchanted, then they may be just be the developers of the next generation of search tools – or they may not :-)  time will tell.

I am not sure how good the data being retrieved is.  My usual test of ‘pedagogy’ and ‘information literacy’ produced results that I was happy with, thought very different from Google’s results on the same topic.

I love the Explore by Category option – not a new idea, but it sits beautifully on the page to help prompt thinking and therefore searching!  This is guiding my students rather than sitting them in front of a screen full of millions of links.

Cuil claims not to rely on superficial popularity metrics, but searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance.

When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency.

Oh, and it has a ‘safe search’ button – good for making kids take responsibility for their search options.

Plus I can add Cuil to my Firefox search box!

This is new. I’m going to watch this one.  PS. Phil Bradely didn’t give Cuil a wrap up – but I’m thinking we need to see how this develops before making our final judgement.

LibX Library Toolbar at NECC08

Here is a video explaining LibX – a great tool that I promoted at NECC in San Antonio.

The LibX Murdoch University Toolbar is a Firefox Browser extension that lets you search the library holdings straight from a toolbar in your browser.

It also embeds little symbols next to the titles of books and journal articles in pages you view on the web. Clicking on these symbols lets you check whether the library has it.

This is awesome and a cool Web 2.0 enhancement for libraries. Enjoy!

Boolify your boolean search strategy

At last, an opportunity to show kids the impact of boolean searching in a very visual way with this excellent tool from Boolify. Build your search query like a jigsaw puzzle, and see the impact of varying your search strategy.

Here’s a very interesting way to demonstrate the way boolean searching works, particularly for younger students. Cleverly via Miguel Guhlin.

Stephen Downes says:

… I think that this sort of approach to creating queries could be extended a lot – my first thought was that it could function as a generic sentence constructor, which in turn would be really usefuil for language learning and logic. There are also curriculum resources.

Sputtr – or Spluttr!

Could have been great for the students! as Sputtr is a very clever multi-search engine.

We gave it a go, when some students came asking for assistance with their current research topics.

Afterwards we also looked at the options it has for creating a customized search page by including some of my favourite search tools, as well as allowing us to choose from a variety of Web 2.0 zones – anything from Youtube to twitter to DeviantARt to WorldCat and heaps more.

Sputtr incorporates websearch, images, video, audio/music, maps, blogs, blogsearch, news, bookmarks, social networks, people search, reference, country information, and more.

Ah, so it’s great isn’t it?

Yes, it is.

But I CAN’T recommend it for use by my students because it has the naughty button which leads to a paid ‘love’ service. What a damned shame. After a good start I spluttered to a halt.

Dig that RSS

Just to add a little more on the topic of RSS – I’ve also been reminded of the excellent service from the Library of the University of California.

INFOMINE is a virtual library of Internet resources relevant to faculty, students, and research staff at the university level. It contains useful Internet resources such as databases, electronic journals, electronic books, bulletin boards, mailing lists, online library card catalogs, articles, directories of researchers, and many other types of information.

Do a search; browse or search by subject category; pick up the What’s New RSS feed or email alert service; wander over to the General Reference; check out the Other Search Tools; or visit the INFOMINE blog.

Search secrets are out!

There’s no longer any excuse! The secret is out! We teachers must embrace ‘search’ for what it is – an effective and critical skill in finding and utilising sources available on the internet.

I’m a bit tired of teachers not knowing very much about search. Mind you, no-one needs to be an expert – but everyone needs to know where to go to get the latest information about ‘search’ and where to access a good tutorial to induct new staff into a quality search mentality.

I’m always keen to recommend the various resources available at Pandia Search Central.

You’ll find a host of resources there including Pandia Kids and Teens which provides search engines and search tools for kids and teens.

However for your staff, why not insist that they explore The Pandia Goalgetter – the short and easy internet search tutorial.

Pandia Powersearch is also a great page! Here is a monster all-in-one list of search engines and directories. Search the Web using the search form , or select one of the categories to find the best Internet search tools.

I also recommend subscribing to one or both of the Pandia free newsletters – Pandia Search World and Pandia Post – for some good updates and information about development in the search world.

For those keen to get the latest information about search developments, be sure to subscribe to Research Buzz. This is for the search geeks amongst you :-)

Oh and there is Alt Search Engines – Alternative Search Engines covers the cutting-edge of alternative and niche search engines. Subscribing to their RSS just may give you more than you want to know about the industry of search! as well as some pretty good ‘breaking’ information.

I also included a  recommendation in this post for primary schools – GoGoogligans.com as an alternative to Google. This is powered by Google.com SafeSearch & Google COOP.

Includes links on:

However feeback in the comments indicates that GoGoolgligans may not be a safe site after all! If you have tried  it or have some further experience, please let us know.
GoGoogligans does  include a cool tool for making Google Style logos. Here’s one for us to use :-)
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Photo: Little secret