From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
Subject:      Tourbus - 19 Feb 04 - The Search Engine War / Teaching with PowerPoint

TODAY'S TOURBUS STOPS: The Search Engine Wars / Teaching with PowerPoint

The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from deep behind the orange curtain in beautiful Irvine, California, a town surrounded by a foil jacket to help prevent crosstalk. :P

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On with the show...

The Search Engine War Audience: Everyone

One of the biggest mistakes most new Internet users make is using a directory like Yahoo, MSN, or one of the Netscape Open Directory Project sites as if it was a search engine. Directories are human- compiled lists of web pages. Those lists usually contain only the title and a one paragraph description of the couple million web pages the folks who created the directories know about. So finding stuff in a directory can be a hit-or-miss proposition.

By way of comparison, a search engine like Google, AlltheWeb, or AltaVista is machine-compiled, contains every word [and sometimes every picture] on the web pages it knows about, and usually contains several billion pages in its database. Google's database, for example, contains more than 6 billion documents including 4.2 billion web pages, 880,000 pictures, and 845 million Usenet newsgroup posts.

Finding stuff in a search engine is pretty simple provided you know some basic search engine math [how to use plusses, minuses, quotes, and the like.]

How do directories and search engines compare when it comes to results? Search for civil rights pioneer "Rosa Parks" at a popular directory and you'll likely get less than 500 hits. Do the same search at a popular search engine and you'll get about 500,000 hits.

[To learn more about the differences between directories and search engines in general, and how to use search engine math in specific, you are more than welcome to steal my free "Google 101" and "Google 201" PowerPoint presentations at ]

A few years ago many of the big directories, realizing that they were getting trounced by the search engines, signed contracts with the major search engine companies to have them provide secondary results. For example, last week if you went to Yahoo and searched for Rosa Parks the first hits you saw came from Yahoo's own directory. Tacked on to the bottom of that were additional hits from Google.

All that changed on Tuesday night. At 9:30 PM on February 17th Yahoo dropped Google as its secondary search engine and switched to it's own search engine, a rebranded version of the Yahoo-owned Inktomi [pronounced "INK-to-me."] and Overture. That's right, folks: Yahoo now has its own search engine.

Begun, the search engine war has. :P

If you want to use Yahoo's new search engine, just hop on over to

Yahoo's search engine has six tabs along the left side of the page:

1. Web, which lets you search the web using Yahoo's new search engine. This tab is selected by default.

2. Images, which lets you search for gifs and jpegs

3. Directory, which lets you search through Yahoo's original human-compiled directory of web pages

4. Yellow pages, which lets you search for local businesses (in the US)

5. News, which lets you search Yahoo's wonderful news site

6. Products, which lets you search Yahoo's online shopping site

You can customize the tabs, removing the ones you don't use or adding new tabs for maps, people search, or travel.

That's cool, I guess, but the million dollar question is how does Yahoo's search engine stack up against Google?

The shocking answer is that Yahoo does pretty well, actually. Yahoo's new search engine is no Google-killer but it can (almost) stand toe-to-toe with Google. For example, a search for Rosa Parks at Google yields 462,000 hits. The same search at Yahoo yields 570,000. And in many cases Yahoo's hits are different than Google's.

In fact, if you want to do a side-by-side comparison of the two search engines, check out the German site

Key in a search term at the top of the page and you'll see Google's hits on the left and Yahoo's on the right. [This site was mentioned in Slashdot Wednesday so expect it to be sluggish for the next couple of days.]

The big difference between Yahoo's new search engine and Google's is that while both have sponsored links--links that advertisers pay for-- Yahoo's sponsored links are more prominent. Google puts its sponsored links in colored boxes on the right side of its result pages while Yahoo sticks its sponsored links at the top. I'm sure this makes the sponsors happier but these sponsored links kind of get in the way. [An elementary school student researching Rosa Parks probably won't be interested in Yahoo's first link: "Rosa Parks on eBay."]

Remember, BOTH Yahoo and Google have sponsored links. It's just that Yahoo's are more prominent. [Yahoo also offers a "paid inclusion" service where, for a fee, you can guarantee that your web page is included in Yahoo's database. Paid inclusion does NOT guarantee a certain ranking on the results page, rather it just guarantees that your page is added *somewhere* into the results when someone searches for a particular keyword.]

Also, while Yahoo displays 20 hits per page by default, Google displays 10. You can change that number by clicking on the preferences link in either search engine.

Aside from that, Yahoo and Google are strikingly similar. Both use the same color scheme, both have cached links, both offer spelling suggestions...if you know how to use Google, you know how to use Yahoo.

So why am I not doing cartwheels about Yahoo's new search engine and telling everyone to abandon Google? Because there's nothing new here. Yahoo's new search engine is a good compliment to Google. It just isn't a replacement. That's not a bad thing, though. It's nice to know there's an alternative.

Of course, that's just my opinion. Give Yahoo's new search engine a spin and let me know what you think.

Now that I know PowerPoint, how can I use it to TEACH?! Audience: Anyone who uses PowerPoint in an instructional environment

Microsoft reported a while back that 30 million PowerPoint presentations are made each day. While a big chunk of those presentations are business-related, it should come as no shock that PowerPoint is also the defacto standard for on-screen presentations in practically every school and training center in the world.

The problem is that very few of us have taken the time to ask some critical questions about the use of PowerPoint in direct instruction, namely

  • What are the pros and cons of using PowerPoint to teach?
  • Can PowerPoint influence learning?
  • How can PowerPoint presentations be aligned to both the
  • curriculum and, more importantly, assessment?

  • Yadda yadda yadda.
  • So about six months ago I started working on an outline for a book that combines current learning theory and research, usability studies, and practical experience to show you how to effectively use PowerPoint to teach in any environment--the K-16 classroom, a corporate training center, a community meeting... anywhere.

    The problem is that every publisher I contacted about this book turned me down. Apparently no one is interested in publishing a book that shows experienced PowerPoint users how to use PowerPoint to teach effectively.

    Oh, well.

    Instead of throwing away all of the research I have gathered over the past six months, I decided to take a very small fraction of my research and turn it into--surprise surprise--a free, one-hour PowerPoint presentation titled "Now that I know PowerPoint, how can I use it to TEACH?!"

    You can download the presentation at

    Because the presentation is only an hour long, I left out a LOT of the stuff that I was going to include in the book. But the presentation does give you a pretty good idea of where I was headed, showing you things like the impact of PowerPoint images on student enjoyment and retention, how PowerPoint can be used to teach note-taking, and stuff like that.

    If you use PowerPoint in an educational environment, you might want to download the presentation and give it a whirl. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. :)

    And I'd love to hear what you think [especially if you know an agent or publisher who would be interested in seeing me expand this presentation.] :)

    The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
    Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved

    That's it for today. Have a safe and happy week and we'll talk again soon!

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