Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Searching for That Answer in a Sea of Knowledge

Face it; our ways of research have changed drastically over the years. What once used to be "go look in a book" when we asked questions, has somehow changed to "just Google it." The problem we face with this is there seem to be a googol things on Google! Wouldn't it be more effective if we had a way to get to the information we need flawlessly and instantly? So here are some search strategies that work (well, at least for me).

1. Be specific

Sometimes we tend to search for things, even though we don't really know what we are looking for. So the first step to smooth searching is find a topic. For example, let's set a scenario. You are writing an essay on the Christmas Island red crabs. So, the natural thing to do would be to search:

But, the issue with this is that you are searching for anything that has to do with "crabs". You will get results about all species of crabs, and maybe even some restaurants! So to deal with this, we have to add details, like this:

Better... but by doing this, you are asking for results about anything "red" and anything about "crabs". So, this leads me to my next point:

2. Group phrases

When a search engine looks at your entry, it just searches up anything that has to do with it. You see, search engines are smart, but still need a few hints. So, to conquer this, simply enter:

Now you will get results closer to what you are looking for. Just add quotation marks and Google will know what you are actually talking about. But even so, it can get off topic, so:

3. What do you not want?

You see, Google looks for what ever you tell it to look for, but it is not always spot on. It so happens that the Christmas Island red crab population were affect by an accidental introduction of a species of ant. So, even by putting "red crab" into the search box, you will still get results about related topics. To eliminate these, you have to type:

By adding a hyphen (or minus symbol), you are telling Google: give me results about red crabs, but not anything about the ant introduction.

Here is a video that is relating to this topic from Commoncraft and explains it pretty well:

Now, why not you go and try it out? But what better way to do so than with A Google a Day? If you have not tried it before, here is a video about it:

Now you are ready to search your way to new knowledge faster, and easier.

Image Attribution: Iconeer

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