Date: Tue, 9 Nov 1999 20:55:14 -0500
Sender: The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 09 Nov 99 - Web Search Gurus
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Free Stuff, Polls and more fun at http://www.TOURBUS.com !
Hi All! Today we have a super guest article by Chris Sherman, the
About.com Guide to Web Searching. Chris has put together a very
informative tour of the websites of five Internet Search Gurus, and
there's a lot we can learn from each of them. We want to thank our
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Searching For Web Wisdom, by Chris Sherman
In cartoons, intrepid seekers of wisdom always trek to the peak of a
remote mountaintop, hoping for a few words of sage advice from an
enlightened guru. Invariably, the guru instead offers some banal
platitude, leaving the hapless seeker out of luck but providing the
reader with a good chuckle.
Fortunately, it's a lot easier to seek out wisdom from the gurus who
have mastered the art of searching the Web. Even better, many
enlightened "super searchers" are generous with their hard-won
knowledge, and welcome visitors in search of knowledge.
Sit back and relax while we take a pilgrimage to the "e-homes" of some
of the smartest people working on the Web today. We'll give you a
tour of their home bases, and let the gurus themselves provide a few
choice words of wisdom for getting the most out of their pages.
SEARCH ENGINE WATCH
Our first stop is London, and the virtual home of Danny Sullivan. If
there's an equivalent of Mecca for Web searchers, it's Danny's Search
Engine Watch site. Here you'll find literally everything you might
want to know about search engines, how they work, how to use them, and
how to submit your own Web pages to the engines.
Search Engine Watch has several departments, all listed on the home
page. Danny says: "Search Engine Listings is a collection of search
engines across the web, organized by category. Reviews, Ratings &
Tests lets you know which services are popular and provides stats on
how well they perform. And Web Searching Tips covers how to search
Other departments have a broader scope. "Search Engine Resources is a
catch-all area for all types of information relating to search
engines," says Danny. "Finally, Search Engine News is where you'll
find current and past articles from the monthly Search Engine Report
newsletter" (a must-read if you want to keep up with news and trends
in search engines).
SEARCH ENGINE SHOWDOWN
Now we'll wing it across the big pond, touching down in the rugged
beauty of Montana, where Greg Notess keeps the spirit of the wild west
alive with Search Engine Showdown. Greg is the J.D. Powers of the
search engine world, constantly stress-testing the search engines and
evaluating the quality of the results he gets. In addition, Greg is a
skilled teacher, and his site is filled with tips for beginner and
"On your first visit to Search Engine Showdown check out the search
strategies, search analysis, search features, and reviews sections of
the Web site," says Greg. "The Strategies section provides basic
techniques for effective Internet hunting."
The site is also a great ready reference source for search engines.
The Search Engine Chart and the By Feature section provide "at a
glance" listings of available features. And the Analysis section
"provides statistics on the search engine databases in terms of size,
dead links, and overlap," says Greg. The findings may surprise you --
and explain why your search results are often so strange or
Now off to the heartland of Illinois, home of Marylaine Block.
Marylaine is a librarian by training, a writer by vocation, and an
insatiably curious "information omnivore" by nature. It shouldn't be
a surprise that Marylaine's Web home is the most eclectic of the Web
gurus' sites on our tour.
Tourbus fans will love Marylaine's Neat New Stuff I Found This Week,
"where I choose and review each week ten sites packed with free,
authoritative, useful information," says Marylaine.
Her newest venture is ExLibris, a weekly e-zine for librarians and
other information junkies. Librarians are the true pros at searching,
and ExLibris provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the
issues and challenges professionals confront. "Knowing that
librarians don't have time to read, I generally include no more than
2-3 brief articles, intended not to cover a subject thoroughly but to
toss out ideas and questions to jog librarians' minds into generating
their own ideas and answers," says Marylaine.
GARY PRICE'S INVISIBLE WEB
Next stop, Washington, D.C., the center of power for the United
States, and the home of power searcher extrordinaire Gary Price.
Gary's speciality is the "Invisible Web," the part of cyberspace
that's inaccessible to search engines, but is still searchable -- if
you know where to find the gateways.
"For any type of comprehensive research do not rely only on material
'on the Internet,'" says Gary. Instead, Gary shows you how to go
beyond the Internet to access databases that have their own search
engines and tools -- the "Invisible Web." "While you might not always
locate the exact answer you need, use the databases to assist in
directing you to where you can find the answer," says Gary.
What kinds of information can you find on the "Invisible Web?"
Things like public records, special subject collections, news archives
-- information that's too broad or deep to fit on simple, static Web
pages, but fits beautifully into a database. Gary has links to
thousands of these information repositories. Visiting his pages is
like opening up a chest and discovering that it's packed full of
THE EXTREME SEARCHER
On to the outskirts of Washington, in suburban Vienna, Virginia, to
visit Ran Hock, the Mario Andretti of Web search. Not content with
mediocre results, Ran has gone "under the hood" of the major search
services, and written a guide for the serious searcher showing how to
make search engines perform like Formula One race cars.
"The Extreme Searcher's Web Page is designed primarily as an update to
the book The Extreme Searcher's Guide to Web Search Engines: A
Handbook for the Serious Searcher," says Ran. "Of the four main
sections (News and Updates, Resources, Links to Engines, Courses), the
News section is probably of most interest. The intent here is to
provide a quick and practical snapshot of those search engine changes
which directly affect how one uses the engines."
Ran also includes snapshots of selected (research-relevant) engines
which have gained prominence since the publication of the book in the
Spring of 1999. "The "Resources" section links to a few of the
outstanding search engine news and analysis sites, and "Links" is the
obligatory page of links to major engines," says Ran.
And that, fellow seeker, wraps up our quest for Web wisdom. The sites
on our tour are easily the equivalent of a graduate level course in
Web searching, but they're also packed with useful information and
links that you can use immediately. Unlike many real-world
pilgrimages, your visits to the sites of these Web gurus won't leave
you disappointed. In fact, you'll probably find yourself visiting
these e-shrines of Web wisdom again and again.
# # #
Contact Chris Sherman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his
ever-so-nifty Guide Site at http://websearch.about.com . Thanks, Chris!
That's all for now, see you next time! --Bob Rankin
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