What is your favorite search engine and why?
If you think you know something — is that enough — or do you feel a responsibility to back up your knowledge with outside facts?


Is there such a thing as “common knowledge” and “assumed facts” or is
nothing ever really known?
Do you use any online portals — other than a search engine — to find
information?
Do you still use a traditional brick-and-mortar library to find
answers?
Has there ever been a moment when you were unable to find what you
wanted in an online search?

If so, how did you ultimately divine your
answer?
When you find your answer – what do you do with it? Do you save a paper
copy? Save a digital copy? Do you just remember?
If you find your answer online do you bookmark that page? If you
bookmark your resources how long do you keep those bookmarks active in
your browser?

If you choose to comment on this topic, please be thorough in your
reply and address each question in the order asked. Please do not
cherry-pick the questions you choose to answer because there is an
organic progression in the questions that ultimately construct your
answers.
Thank you!

43 Comments

  1. Hi David,
    1. I like Google because I can access it from my Google toolbar and because it is so popular. If I could pick two search engines, MSN would come in second because it has always given my blog good positions for my keywords. But, because I use Google all the time, it’s my favorite.
    2. I always like to back up my knowledge withoutside facts. When I write a response or a comment, I usually write it, then go search to find things that back up what I’ve written. If I find that I’ve made a mistake somewhere, I try to correct it with the facts that I’ve found while searching.
    3. Some things are common knowledge. When I was in journalism school, there was a certain threshhold of sources that would say the same thing to make it common knowledge.
    To determine if something is common knowledge takes common sense for the most part. Still, even if most people know something, it always makes a stronger point to refer to some source. Not everyone has the same experiences and education, so something I know might not be known by others.
    4. I use Westlaw for work, as well as Findlaw and other government-type sites to get information. I also love Wikipedia!
    5. I’ve been checking out business books from the library to expand my knowledge, so I guess that counts. I haven’t asked a librarian for help with research for at least 10 years, however.
    Has there ever been a moment when you were unable to find what you wanted in an online search? If so, how did you ultimately divine your answer?
    6. Recently, I couldn’t find if the library I took pictures of in Gary was a Carnegie library. I didn’t come out and say directly that the library was a Carnegie library, but I think it is.
    However, I can’t say that just because I have a gut feeling based on the building’s age and where it is located in the older part of the city, so I worded my post to let people know my opinion and point to the little information that I was able to find and that none of it pointed directly to the particular building.

    I suspect the library is Gary’s Carnegie Library, but there is little information available about Gary’s building except that it stopped being a library in 1977 after being opened in 1910.
    There isn’t even a street address listed in the state’s Carnegie Library listings.

    7. If it’s something for work, I print out a copy and put it into a paper file for later reference. For personal things, I might make a bookmark if it is for a blog post.
    Most of the time, I just file the information into my brain for later reference.
    If someone at work tells me about something, I’ll make a note that they know about it and ask them later on if I need more information.
    8. I usually keep my bookmarks forever. Every so often, I’ll organize items into folders. If the bookmark is something silly or trivial, I’ll delete it. But, I rarely ever cull many of my bookmarks because I always feel I might want to visit the site again in the future.

  2. Oh how often I think “I’ll must look that up later” and then forget about it … 😉
    Actually I’d say “I must Google that” but they seem to be suing people who use it as a verb – a rather strange attitude.
    Anyway, back to the point.
    I will look up everything and anything that takes my fancy if I remember once I get to a PC. It’s not so often I can’t find the answer and if I can’t it’s not usually such an important question that I need to go chasing after it.
    I never write anything like that down and trust my memory, which sometimes does let me down. If this happens I’ll just look it up again at a later date when I find the subject interesting again.
    Oh, and the only bookmarks in my browser are things like gmail, google reader, bank sites and a couple relevant to work.
    I find if I need anything else I’ll get more interesting results from searching again rather than relying on the same site all the time. Hopefully this serves to give me a slightly more balanced view too by taking information from multiple sources.

  3. I hope we aren’t what we search, as has been in the news lately.
    AOL released search queries recently, causing a stir in the press.
    From Slate:

    The search records don’t include users’ names, but each search is tagged with a number that’s tied to a specific AOL account.
    The New York Times quickly sussed out that AOL Searcher No. 4417749 was 62-year-old Thelma Arnold. Indeed, Arnold has a “dog who urinate on everything,” just as she’d typed into the search box.
    Valleywag has become one of many clearinghouses for funny, bizarre, and painful user profiles.
    The searches of AOL user No. 672368, for example, morphed over several weeks from “you’re pregnant he doesn’t want the baby” to “foods to eat when pregnant” to “abortion clinics charlotte nc” to “can christians be forgiven for abortion.”

    Here’s an exerpt another search record (or is it a parody) published by Slate:

    16006693 best place to retire
    16006693 places like crawford but without cindy sheehan
    16006693 crawford the town not cindy crawford
    16006693 crawford tx
    16006693 like crawford tx but not so hot
    16006693 best places to retire not hot
    16006693 best places to retire global warming
    16006693 global warming mith
    16006693 global warming myth
    16006693 crawford hot
    16006693 cindy crawford hot
    16006693 rice hot
    16006693 rice hot not recipes
    16006693 rice naked
    16006693 rice nude
    16006693 bible quotes resisting temptation
    16006693 oakridge boys i’ll be true to you
    16006693 oakridge boys trying to love two women

    I think I’ve had search queries that have looked somewhat like that that in my past. 🙂

  4. David,
    The answer to your first question is Google…Google…and Google…, if I am not searching for any peer reviewed article. It’s basically the depth, breadth and width of the search engine that gives you a solid feedback on anything, if you know how to successfully juggle the words.
    I always do some research before I speak, write or communicate, I always search for some unknown word/fact/information/data that I come across to have a good grasp on the subject.
    When I find something worth to save, I have a digital copy of it. I don’t rely on my memory.
    As long as the ‘brick and mortar’ tangible library will be there I will be there to smell! Jokes apart, if I find anything that interests me I find some books on the subject.
    The knowledge bank can be increased by acquiring more facts, may not be very relevant to my own needs always but knowledge never decay.
    It’s we who do – we rust when we rest!

  5. Hi Chris!
    Excellent answers! A+ all around!
    Do you search Google and then MSN for every inquiry? Or do you only pull up MSN if you get stuck at Google. I’m surprised you don’t have any Yahoo! searches!
    You really must find a way to completely identify that library. I like your phrasing to cheat not being really sure, but the heritage behind that building is important. There must be someone who knows!
    Sometimes you need a live mind for an answer instead of a dead database.
    I, too, keep bookmarks forever. You never know what you’ll need to know again someday!

  6. Chris —
    Those saved search results are so scary!
    Nothing you type on the web goes unnoticed.
    a9.com gives you an automatic Amazon discount, but you have to login to the a9.com system with your Amazon ID to qualify for the discount — and that means you have created an unbreakable tether between your pocketbook and the searches you perform. It’s a little scary.
    a9.com is not as good as it used to be, though. They removed Google as the default search engine and replaced it with Windows Live. You don’t get images returned any longer and that’s really a sad difference.

  7. Hi Katha!
    Are you in ND now?
    Do you ever go beyond Google and into the deeper scholarly databases?
    Have you used any of these database resources in you schoolwork?

    * RefWorks
    * New York Times (full text)
    * Proquest (full text)
    * WilsonOmni (full text)
    * Lexis-Nexis (full text)
    * MLA Bibliography
    * Dissertation Abstracts
    * ERIC
    * RLIN
    * PsycInfo
    * Medline
    * Gartner Reports
    * Books24x7.com

  8. I use google books, but not scholar – hadn’t seen that one before. Thanks for the tip.
    If I kept detailed bookmarks I’d never manage to sort them into any kind of order and it would just be too much information.
    Besides – I like finding something slightly different every time I search a subject. It’s amazing the difference a slightly different search term can bring up.
    Incidentally, I saw a blog a while back that had a list of “interesting searches” that had pointed people to it – I guess from statcounter or something similar. I bet you’ve been linked to from one or two interesting search terms 😉
    Cheers
    Mike

  9. Yes David, I am in Fargo now.
    Yes, I used almost all of the database resources you mentioned for my schoolwork except the last five –
    I am going to dig in now!

  10. Hi David,
    Your comment made me think that I should get the Groowe Search Toolbar for Firefox since it can search through 20 engines. I just added it, but need to restart to play around with it. I also got answer.com’s extension as well where one can alt+click to get more info, but haven’t used it yet.
    Most of the time I just use Google, unless I can’t find something, but search engines vary in what they contain and Google doesn’t always have everything that is out there. Or, it’s been put into Google’s sand box for being new or perceived unfavorably.
    It’s definitely worthwhile to check a couple of different engines.
    I’ll see what I can find out about the library building. I’m sure I read something in the newspaper about it a while back. I might plug the address into the newspaper’s archive service to see what pops up.
    There’s also a lot of historical activity right now in Gary because of the Centennial celebration.
    A book written by an IU professor about the city’s first 100 years is being sold at the local newspaper that probably has information about the library also.

  11. Mike!
    Google Scholar is pretty powerful. As was my other favorite, Teoma,com. Teoma is now part of Ask.com.
    You’re right that things change all the time. I find myself bookmarking portal entrances so I can get to the core information faster.
    Yes, you’re right we’ve talked about search results here before! Here are a couple of them:
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2005/11/06/mint-search-results/
    http://urbansemiotic.com/2005/12/05/script-professor-search-ranking/

  12. I also just installed another Firefox extension — CustomizeGoogle — available at Firefox’s extension site.

    CustomizeGoogle is a Firefox extension that enhance Google search results by adding extra information (like links to Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, MSN etc) and removing unwanted information (like ads and spam).
    All features are optional and easily configured from the options menu.

    I haven’t restarted my browser yet so I don’t know how it works.

  13. Q: What is your favorite search engine and why?
    A: Grudgingly have to admit that it is google, because up until now it has the most comprehensive search. The others are catching up though and I am starting to use them more and more – especially if I cant find what I want on the first page of google.
    Q: If you think you know something — is that enough — or do you feel a responsibility to back up your knowledge with outside facts?
    A: Basically I know what I know – supporting evidence is used when other people question what I know – or ask why I believe what I state. If doing talks, workshops and presentations I always back what I say up, with anecdotal evidence, research and resources.
    Q:Is there such a thing as “common knowledge” and “assumed facts” or is nothing ever really known?
    A :Common Knowledge is only common from/to source. ie What is common knowledge in Africa is probably not common knowledge in the UK and visa versa except of course where is is a common feild ( physics or maths for instance). Never assume “common knowledge”.
    Q: Do you use any online portals — other than a search engine — to find information?
    A: I use Wikipedia, LondonFetishScene Wipipedia, Informed Consent’s Encyclopervia. I usually double check and cross reference these.
    Q: Do you still use a traditional brick-and-mortar library to find answers?
    A: Yes – or the local bookshop.
    Q: Has there ever been a moment when you were unable to find what you wanted in an online search? If so, how did you ultimately divine your answer?
    A: Yes , quite often, expecially when taking part in Government Consultation Processes. I have a man who *knows* these things – I send him an email and get pointed in the right direction. I also go and look in the book store or library.
    Q: When you find your answer – what do you do with it? Do you save a paper copy? Save a digital copy? Do you just remember?
    A: Saved bits to file along with their origins – and now back them up so I dont loose them !
    Q: If you find your answer online do you bookmark that page? If you bookmark your resources how long do you keep those bookmarks active in your browser?
    A: If I think I will need it again I will save them. I also save them to file.
    If you choose to comment on this topic, please be thorough in your reply and address each question in the order asked. Please do not cherry-pick the questions you choose to answer because there is an organic progression in the questions that ultimately construct your answers.
    Thank you!
    (Yes Sir !)

  14. I waas fooling around with the Groowe Toolbar and discovered that I have 3 of the sites listed in the top 5 in MSN for the search phrase “Meylssa Ford” which is a mispelling of “Melyssa Ford.”
    It shows me that my spelling errors aren’t such a bad thing because it generates traffic, but that I might want to make sure to double check everything a little better in the future.
    Groowe showed me I have the top 3 for “Meylssa Ford” in Google.
    It’s nice to have access to many search engines without having to retype and reload bunches of pages. It’s especially helpful when looking at ways to increase traffic to your websites.
    I’ll write up something after I’ve had a while to fully play around with Groowe.

  15. Hi Katha!
    Hey, your Gravatar is new! Is that you? If so, do you want me to change the image on our Author’s page?
    It’s interesting how not all schools provide the same database access to their students. Databases cost a lot of money and some schools are not generous in granting access to all students across the curriculum:
    Columbia was okay.
    NJIT was poor.
    Rutgers was okay.
    NYU was spectacular!

  16. Wowser, Nicola! High marks all around! Thank you for your in-depth and precise response.
    Here are my questions based on your answers:
    1. If, one day, all the search engines become equal as you suggest — what will bring you to one over the other? Filtering? Branding? Page design? Something else?
    2. Your take on common knowledge is interesting. Is the speed of light common knowledge across the world? Is the sky blue? Is the heart a muscle? Is Tony Blair inexplicably in George Bush’s pocket?
    3. Can Wikis be trusted? Aren’t they forms of community opinion? What makes a contributor an expert? Self-proclamation?

  17. Q: If, one day, all the search engines become equal as you suggest — what will bring you to one over the other? Filtering? Branding? Page design? Something else?
    A: Those that adult filter (this is my usual field of work and research) will be the first to go.
    Next the ones that fail the adult friendly test (currently MSN) will go to the bottom of the pile.
    Then it will be down to whether I like them or not – how much data tracking takes place, and if they make this available and to whom – and what they censor in certain countries like China.
    Depending on how far down this route various governments go – I can well see a time when all of my research will be offline – or I shall quietly retire !
    I like the sound of google scholar site – that would be useful for some of my research.
    Q: Your take on common knowledge is interesting. Is the speed of light common knowledge across the world? Is the sky blue? Is the heart a muscle? Is Tony Blair inexplicably in George Bush’s pocket?
    A: The speed of light – depends on how good a countries education system is.
    The sky is grey a lot of the time – or black …………. again it would depend on education. The same with the heart being a muscle. As for Tony B – I thought his head was somwhere else on GB’s person !
    Q: Can Wikis be trusted? Aren’t they forms of community opinion? What makes a contributor an expert? Self-proclamation?
    A: Thats why I always double check and cross reference !

  18. I think search engines are getting better, but I’ve noticed a lot of link/spam farms when searching in Technorati. When I see the excerpt repeating the same keyword over and over, I know it’s probably a waste of time.
    The problem is that splogs ruin and cast suspicion on good blogs.
    Spammers harm everyone.
    The good thing is that quality content seems to win out in the end.
    I’ve had trouble with my sexyhiphopvixens site just because the URL scares people into thinking it’s could be a splog. The content might scare others, but I consider it to be tastefully done and very artistic. Plus, people aren’t seeing anything that wouldn’t make it past a Viacom network censor working for MTV.
    Pingoat wouldn’t let me ping for a while because their filter thought my URL was sploggy. To their credit, they fixed the problem very quickly when I notified them.
    I’ve even had problems here with Askimet grabbing me when I put in too many legitimate links.
    Down with sploggers!
    Let’s hope that search engines figure out a way to deal with them without harming the good gals and guys.

  19. Nicola!
    Harrr! Hilarious! I stand corrected on Tony Blair! Bwa-ha-ha-harr!
    :mrgreen:
    Wikis are interesting, but inherently dangerous unless — like you – one uses them as a leaping off point for directional research instead of taking them as a final answer.

  20. Right, Chris!
    Technorati’s best days were a year ago. Lately I find their returns mainly rubbish. Trying to give any sort of hierarchical relevance to information on the web based on links is becoming less and less interesting to me.
    I, too, had a problem with Pingoat. I think they had some kind of strange problem there for awhile. It took a week to get cleared and now all is well. Pingomatic is slow and insufficient for getting out fast updates. Pingoat is whippingly fast.

  21. Yep! That’s me, very much! Exactly after 2 years in USA! Pretty happy to find a green neighborhood in this barren, flat land!!! 😀
    You can change my image if you want; probably the author-page needs some current information of mine too!
    UW-Stout library was my first experience in abroad and I was quite happy with it. I am yet to explore NDSU fully…

  22. I just thought of another service I enjoy using that complements search engine queries: Topix.net.
    They do a good job of getting local news and mixing in blog posts. I have Topix.net’s local news feed on my RSS scroller extension along with Yahoo’s RSS feeds.
    And, writing about Yahoo reminds me that you can set up a RSS feed for a news search. It’s nice to be able to keep up with certain topics!
    In a way, Yahoo becomes an an automated search engine.
    For news searching, Yahoo beats Google and is my favorite for that category, although Topix is getting to be very nice.

  23. Hi Katha!
    It is amazing how just changing your hair can change the energy in an image! Women carry a lot of power in their hair and your two images are proof of that concept!
    Your new image is on the Author’s page! Send me your updated bio information and I will get that online for you ASAP.
    Let us know what you think of NDSU when you’re finished exploring!

  24. Thanks for the heads up on Topix, Chris. I just went to that site and learned actor Bruno Kirby died today of leukemia. That was sad news.
    It’s interesting Yahoo! has better news searching than Google. I wonder why? Do they have stronger news provider partners?

  25. Wow, David! I think you opened up a can of worms here.
    I have set Yahoo as my homepage since I uses Yahoo maps and Yahoo Yellow Pages quite frequently so it is often what I use first as a search engine. Depending on my level of interest in the matter, I then go to Google and MSN. Sometimes, I don’t even use the internet. I just go to a bookstore look in the section for books related to the topic. I like to have things verified by a number of sources, if possible.
    You asked, “If you think you know something — is that enough — or do you feel a responsibility to back up your knowledge with outside facts?”
    I suppose that would depend on what is “known”. This world may not exist as we “know” or recognize it. We may be existing only in someone else’s dream or we may be in a state as in the movie “The Matrix”. I’d like to “assume” otherwise for the purpose of functioning normally in what is perceived to be reality.
    There are a number of things I like to check first hand. When I was a child, I noticed that when I went in the bathtub the water would rise more than it did before and I didn’t know why. My mom told me it was because I grew. My brother had a children’s book that mentioned Archimedes noting that the water displacement was equal to the volume. I stuck some other items in the bathtub with me to see if the water would go up more because if that were true then more items would mean more displacement.
    There are other things such as the distance between the planets during different phases of their rotation around the sun that I like to know but I do not feel compelled to buy a high power telescope and do complex math in order to find out. I can accept was several “authorities” on the matter have stated even if they are slightly different.
    “Common knowledge” may simply be the product of a large number of people presuming to be in the know about a subject matter, all of whom may be misinformed. This makes me a bit suspicious when something is noted as “common knowledge” unless it pertains to something like gravity or we need air. If the general populace believed that the earth was flat it may be considered “common knowledge” but it does not make it true.
    I also email trusted friends for help finding answers, particularly when the element of human emotion carries more weight.
    “Traditional brick-and-mortar libraries” are a great resource and often carries more weight with me than information posted on the internet, since it seems to take more work and money to get a book published and printed than a post on the internet. But I’d still like to have more than one source.
    What I do with the answer depends entirely on why I was interested in finding out in the first place. Sometimes I keep a paper record other times I rely on my memory but perhaps my favorite is when one search leads to more questions and more “fact-finding missions”.
    If I bookmark something, which is rare, it is bookmarked for as long as I have the computer. If I find it in a book, I will, almost always, have purchased it.

  26. David!
    Thank you! But honestly, I didn’t do anything to my hair!!! I think it’s my camera again – enormously delighted to find some nature… 😀
    In fact, I have long hair which is a luxury to maintain but I am still trying! I prefer to air dry it whenever I can – it has a natural wave that sets in when I let it air dry.
    UW-Stout library is a six-storied building with a huge collection – NDSU looks smaller – but it is said that the smaller the package the bigger the dynamo – who knows!

  27. A S !
    Fantastic response, thanks!
    You raise some interesting points.
    I do believe there is a “common knowledge” that we all know even though we may not know it or admit it and truths/facts/knowing are all ways we preserve our ability to live and actively protect our means for expansion beyond the immediate.
    We don’t have to base these “common facts” or “universal truths” or “everyday knowledge” merely in science, though many of them erupt from the scientific process:
    We eat because we are hungry.
    The sun will rise tomorrow.
    Fire causes pain.
    But I believe we also inherently learn and commonly accept in our lives…
    Some believe in God.
    The unknown is presumed dangerous.
    Patterns of behavior lead to predictable results.
    Now some of those examples are learned through trial and error and are not DNA-level genetic knowledge — but they become common knowledge through everyday human experience and move from beliefs and into accepted truths.

  28. Dear “Katha” —
    As I continue to ponder the two images of “Katha” — if that’s who you really are — I am uncertain if the two images are, indeed, the same person after all!
    How can such a persona be changed by an angle on the hair?
    Hair is magical, but can it change the very air surrounding the subject?
    I think there is something else going on here and I am honor bound to get to the bottom of this — whoever you are!
    :mrgreen:

  29. David!
    I believe, the credit for the change (if any!)goes to my entire experience of past two years – to those who suggested me to take this chance of coming to a different country, those who helped, supported, encouraged, stayed with me in my hard times here and loved me because of my adventurous, exploring nature – because the way I am – including you!
    It’s the magic touch!
    It’s the same ‘me’ – only with a bit more accentuated “if you plan to reside in ocean, why to fear dew drops” – attitude.
    Thanks for noticing the difference and recognizing it!

  30. Katha!
    It is you!
    For a moment I thought there was a body switch in the move from Wisconsin to North Dakota!
    Now we all know the new you is really the real you: A “Katha” with many magical and mysterious talents!
    😀

  31. Hi David,
    Here’s a comparison of Google and Yahoo using the news search term “Northwest Indiana.”
    Google has older information, while Yahoo has more up-to-date content.
    Yahoo’s oldest story is from Aug. 14, while Google’s is ancient in news terms with an Aug. 5th story.
    Yahoo also beat Google as of the time I wrote this on the Jon Benet arrest story. Of course, I was listening to WLS-AM and they were mentioning that ABC New York had “squawked” that an announcement was going to be made later in the hour. ABC News radio reported the story around 3:20 p.m. CDT.
    I like radio best for keeping up with news because I can monitor it while doing other things.

  32. Here’s another interesting story headline that floated by on my RSS ticker: “Mahmoud’s MySpace.”
    Slate has a report about Iran’s leader entering the blogosphere.
    The headline makes the story more sensationistic than it really is. Iran’s leader’s space on the internet isn’t really hosted by MySpace.
    Automated news searches via RSS are always excellent because they find things I’d never notice or search for on my own.

  33. Hi David,
    I have a little “box” radio at work that I always have on as background noise. I usually have it tuned to WLS while I’m working. If I want to listen to music, I’ll usually just pop a CD into my computer or buy a tune from Wal-Mart’s service.
    I’ve had the satellite radio set up in the office, but I need to buy an extra antenna and power supply so I don’t have to carry a bunch of wires back and forth all the time.
    One of the partners has an office next to mine and he has a stereo system set up there. I always keep my radio tuned fairly low so it doesn’t bother anyone. I don’t usually close my door, so I have to always think about the sound travelling out into the open office area.
    I was thinking about checking out the blog, but I was apprehensive that something bad would happen. I never thought that bad code would attack my computer, but I figured someone at the NSA would get a report about the IPs that went there and that’s probably not a good thing.