“Day without Google”. is an idea that AltSearchEngines came up with. Can you manage for a day without Google's search engine? If you're in doubt you can try some of the suggestions on their listing, or try my 'Which Search Engine When?' resource.
Whatever though - take a punt and try a different search engine!
Jimmy Wales in his blog has provided an Update on Wikia and that update is that basically he's waving goodbye to it. Despite a 172% growth in destination visits over 2 years it's clearly not pulling its weight. While 'in a different economy, we would continue to fund Wikia Search' it would appear this is neither the time nor the place. Resources will be directed towards Wikianswers instead. Microsoft is also pulling out of the reference business and closing Encarta.
It's sad to see both of these resources go, though Encarta rather more than Wikia search. When I first reviewed it back in Jan 08 I said "My overall impression is one of being totally underwhelmed. There are a
great many blanks, unfinished sections, links that don't go anywhere
and lots of not much else. It's like looking inside a large house - I
can see the rooms, stairs, basement and so on, and the lights work, the
water is on, but not much else."
I went back a few times to visit it and my impression never really changed for the better. I don't think that it was ever able to entirely create its own identity, and in a space crammed with Google's SearchWiki, Knol, Wikipedia itself, Mahalo etc it was only a matter of time before the curtains were drawn on it.
Library & Information Update blog. The latest issue is now available, and Matthew Mezey is inviting comment, suggestions and so on. You can comment if you're not a member of CILIP as well by the way, which is very welcome. The magazine is available online, but you can only see the ToC if you're not a member, which is fair enough.
Twitter is really beginning to get into search engine functionality. Searchme, a visual search engine, has added a 'Twitter this search' option to their results:
If you click on this, a tweet is placed into your Twitter update box: This is an option that could easily be used if someone was using Twitter as a training resource. I suspect that we're going to be seeing a lot more of this - search engines promoting their results via Twitter - either in the timeline, or as a DM with results.
Get a collection of resources on a subject that interests you in seconds by using Addictomatic: Inhale the Web. This resource instantly creates a buzz page on any topic you like by dragging in content from Google, Yahoo, Technorati, Ask, YouTube, Truveo, Flickr, Blinkx, Ice Rocket, Digg, Topix, Newsvine and Tweetscan.
You can personalise the page by dropping resources, moving them around until you're happy and then bookmark the page, and come back to it whenever you have a mind to. Resources used are appropriate for the subject matter of the page, but you don't have any control over which are added, just which ones you can remove.
Lovely and straightforward. Thanks to Zena Weist for the headsup on this one.
Twemes.com. Twitter hashtag search (they use the term 'twemes'). This searches Twitter and seems to go back further than most other Twitter search engines, flickr photographs and delicious links. Moreover, you can go to a page such as http://twemes.com/name_of_hashtag and see what people have already said about a subject or conference. You can also create an RSS feed and a widget to automatically follow updates for a particular hashtag. Useful for a conference website!
Firstly, there is a huge, and I mean HUGE opposition within schools to the introduction of social media resources. I have run eight courses so far this year for school librarians and the overwhelming message is that the IT has access to resources shut down tightly (and I mean that sometimes it's not possible to get access to Google Mail, delicious, obviously Facebook and YouTube, Netvibes, Twitter and the rest). Various reasons are given for this, from none at all, through to 'it's not safe', 'protecting the children', 'virus concerns' and so on. In some instances the technical support team block access to things when they don't even know what they do! This was reported to me by one school librarian recently. Of course, if the government suggests that it's a good idea to open access to different resources it's going to happen isn't it - just don't hold your breath. All too often the IT squad appear to be more interested in making their own lives easier rather than doing the job of supporting staff.
Second problem that we've got is the most of the staff don't have any concept - at all - about these resources. Again, school librarians are reporting to me that it's difficult to get staff interested in resources or doing anything new at all. Who is going to teach pupils all of this stuff?
Finally, the concept is entirely wrong. Pupils should NOT be taught about Wikipedia and Twitter. These are simply tools used for another purpose. Students need to be taught effective search, and effective communication. Concentrating on an individual tool is pointless, because that tool isn't always going to be there; it may crash and burn or simply be unavailable. Students need to be shown the best way to appreciate and evaluate knowledge from wherever it comes; via Wikipedia, a Google search, a newspaper or a library book. Concentrating on tools and not processes is not going to achieve anything at all.
There's a posting over on the MSN Live Search blog trumpeting the fact that you can now do a search for live flight information. You simply type in your flight details and low and behold you get information on what's happening with that specific flight. Marvellous and wonderful, except... Google's been doing it for about a year or more now. Compare screenshots: Not sure about you, but I find the Google version smaller, neater and as informative. It's true to say that Microsoft are also offering a 'Flight status' search box, (just type that term in the search box), but if you do that (it's just a long winded way of doing the type of search illustrated) while you get your results you also get sponsored results sitting on top of your answer.
It's bad enough that Microsoft is trying to enthuse us about a search resource that's been available from their competitors for a year or so, but it's just downright poor that even when they try and play catch up they can't improve! Microsoft - please - look up the word 'innovate' in the dictionary and try to use it! As it stands you're a waste of time and space and it's no surprise that you're lagging behind like a snail on crutches.
A search on Google will now bring in more results in the 'Searches related to:' option on the page, and if you run a long query with a lot of terms if necessary they'll show more context in the snippet element of the result. More details on their blog.