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Super Searcher Spectacular Secrets!: Session Summary

October 17, 2011

First morning session: Super Searcher Spectacular Secrets! with Mary Ellen Bates speaking. For session slides: batesinfo.com/extras. Let’s get to the good stuff!

Tools for searching softly

Ghostery.com: IDs and blocks tracking bugs, add-on to browser to select what to block.

Use to get anonymous search results. Send in search request to one of the services below:

Scroogle: focuses on Google searching.

DuckDuckGo: focuses on Bing searching. Gives suggests on refining your query.

Can also change location in search engine to change search results. Google will auto assign location and you can’t turn it off. Broadest you can say is United States. You can’t use location outside of United States. You will need to use the Google homepage for another country to change location for results.

In Bing, you can specify any location in the Preferences Page. Get different results from specifying location versus going to another country’s Bing homepage. Very interesting.

Screensharing is great when talking with someone remotely because you and the other person will be getting different search results. Two free screensharing services: Skype (super-easy to use) and Join.me.

Bing won’t allow you to limit your search by date unless you use only one keyword. [Hopefully this gets fixed soon.]

Tools for digging deeper

Search engines have different levels of search depending on the data it collects from you, including how complex your search string is and what browser and browser version you are using. So do a complex search string to get the more in-depth search results.

Filter options change in Google depending on what index (news versus images, etc.) you are searching. Get these options on the search results page.

Google Public Data Explorer: Great way of making graphs with own datasets and public-source data. This is very good for visual learners and for making dense datasets more accessible.

Books Ngram Viewer: can see how cultural uses of words have changed with time. [This is super-cool and useful for many types of textual analyses.]

Yahoo Clues: Shows queries by age, gender. Right now, looking just at United States’ searchers.

Blekko: Cleaner search results, blocks spam and content farms. Offers customized searches via /slash-tags (filters).

LinkedIn company profiles: LinkedIn is very good at data mining. Use for finding company stats and figuring out the competitors for a company. Follow companies to determine who is coming and leaving and offer services. Also look at LinkedIn Today for what is trending.

Takeaway
Lots of tips and intersting information from this session. For my teaching, the most useful information (not new, but good to emphsize to my students): Two searchers will often get very different results from running the same search on the same search engine. Need to think about the results you are getting when you are searching and use multiple search engines. [We just did search engine comparisons in the information literacy class I teach two weeks ago and my students were amazed at the differences in results they received. It was a great learning experience and also super-fun! I’ll be adding this to the next time I teach searching strategies.] Great speaker and great session!

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