Intelligent searching with[out] Google

I’ve noticed a few comments recently on the continued changes in Google’s search
facilities.  Amazing how we have to keep in touch with all this – and just
as well that we do.  I’m thinking that there are plenty ‘out there’ who
never do.

So did YOU loose Google Advanced Search?  or did you never make use of anything other than the Google slot [search]  box ready to punch in your query? A random query amongst non-library friends told me that plenty of folk never even bother to do anything but type randomly into the Google slot [search box] so apparent simplifications of the Google interface makes perfect sense for the masses.I’m not game to run the query past teacher friends because I feel they should know better – but I just might be dissappointed.  Perhaps I feel that sometimes it’s easier to stay away from inconvenient truths?

If you want to use Google Advanced search, you’ll find that it is now accessed via the small ‘gear’ in the right hand of the navigtation bar of your google interface. Of course, you can bookmark the direct link too. Phil Bradely provides a step-by- step instruction to find Google Advanced search.   I think Google explects you to be ‘logged in’ . Clicking on the gear brings up advanced search, language tools, and more.  So Google advanced hasn’t been moved, so much as changed in terms of the access point.  But it doesn’t stop there for Advanced Search, as some other features have also changed.

I also recently mentioned Google Verbatim, another change responding to the removal of Google keyboard operators like +.  And so it continues…change, change, change…

But of course there are so many other issues at stake and so many other options for positive quality research. Too many teachers just don’t get it! As my friend Dean wrote today, the internet research task is not about ‘googling’ information in response to questions generated by the teacher. That teaches students nothing:-

The point is to develop judgment or understanding of questions that require a nuanced grasp of the various facts and to develop the ability to think about and use those facts. If you do not have copious essential facts at the ready, then you will not be able to make wise judgments that depend on your understanding of those facts, regardless of how fast you can look them up.

So mindful of this I’ve been collecting information at Knowledge 2 which has other search engines and options included. 

In actual fact, it can be a challenge to keep up-to-date with all the developments, so If you have some additions, or changes that you’d like to see made, please do let me know.

For more in-depth investigation and review of the search possiblities, you can’t go past this excellent set of slides from Karen Blakeman on searching without Google.

Image:cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery

Google+ plus Deeper Web

Google Lego 50th Anniversary Inspiration

I have a feeling that there is still so much I have to learn about the ‘ins and outs’ of Google, Google+, whatever! What annoys me is how easy it is for me to miss or forget something important about the world of online search.

Here’s the thing -  I had completely forgotten that Google filtered my search results if I was logged into Google. My test run on a complex search showed me that Google cannot predict the information I need. Message to self – “log out of Google if you want to embark on some serious searching”.

So a comment from @hamishcurry today at the ScreenFutures conference  reminded me to share a ‘new’ enhancement of my Google experiences with Deeper Web – an innovative search engine plugin and an essential Firefox addon for Google. By my reckoning this is ‘old’ technology – a Youtube video pegs it at 2009, as does a bookmark in my Delicious collection from the same year.

Here is a Google+ experience of a different kind!  Who knew?

With Google Wonder Wheel retired (for a while anyway) I have installed this Google Search engine extension for a test run on my old MacBook.

Deeper Web results appear in the right hand of my search screen – though there are other options to choose from. Suddenly I have a way of filtering my searches on the fly – from sources and by tags, phrases, sites and zones. I can delete tags or phrases and the search results are automatically resorted.

I am also supplied with a series of window boxes below the tag window providing search results from a range of sources. I can hide those sources I don’t want to see e.g. Wikipedia, or Answers.  However, I do like the other collection options of ‘metrics search‘, ‘news search‘, ‘resources search‘ and ‘blog search‘. So I can see this needs further investigation – and perhaps I really should add this functionality to all my Firefox browsers on all my devices. I’m not sure what I am missing – but I must be missing something if this isn’t known or used more widely.

So while this is no direct replacement to Wonder Wheel, it seems a definite enhancement of my Google Search experience. Rather stupidly I am now  wondering what other tools or enhancements of my web search experience using Google I have forgotten or missed out on.

Please tell me if you know about something else that is pretty good. Tweet me, Facebook me, or Google+ me.  While the social networks go through a period of shakedown, I seem to have acquired another place to keep an eye on!

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.