How to be a great online searcher, demonstrated with step-by-step searches for answers to a series of intriguing questions (for example, “Is that plant poisonous?”).
We all know how to look up something online by typing words into a search engine. We do this so often that we have made the most famous search engine a verb: we Google it“Japan population” or “Nobel Peace Prize” or “poison ivy” or whatever we want to know. But knowing how to Google something doesn't make us search experts; there's much more we can do to access the massive collective knowledge available online. In The Joy of Search, Daniel Russell shows us how to be great online researchers. We don't have to be computer geeks or a scholar searching out obscure facts; we just need to know some basic methods. Russell demonstrates these methods with step-by-step searches for answers to a series of intriguing questionsfrom “what is the wrong side of a towel?” to “what is the most likely way you will die?” Along the way, readers will discover essential tools for effective online searchesand learn some fascinating facts and interesting stories.
Russell explains how to frame search queries so they will yield information and describes the best ways to use such resources as Google Earth, Google Scholar, Wikipedia, and Wikimedia. He shows when to put search terms in double quotes, how to use the operator (*), why metadata is important, and how to triangulate information from multiple sources. By the end of this engaging journey of discovering, readers will have the definitive answer to why the best online searches involve more than typing a few words into Google.
About the Author
Daniel M. Russell is Senior Research Scientist for Search Quality and User Happiness at Google. He has taught many classes on search methods, and more than four million students have taken his online power searching course.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction: How You Can Harness the Power of Online Research-Why You Should Improve Your Online Researching Skills 1
2 Finding a Mysterious Location Somewhere in the World: How to Use Multiple Information Sources to Zero In on a Resource 11
3 Do Lakes in Africa Sometimes Explode? How to Focus Your Search with "site:" and Using Specialized Terms 27
4 Things You Notice While Traveling: How and When to Switch Search Modes to Find Information 39
5 Is That Plant Poisonous or Not? How to Find Highly Localized and Domain-Specific Information 53
6 What's the Most Likely Way You'll Die? How to Be Explicit about What You're Searching to Find (and Why That Matters) 67
7 When Would You Want to Read the Italian Wikipedia? How to Look for Information from Other Languages in Wikipedia and Other Sources 81
8 Why Are the Coasts So Different? How to Use Online Maps Resources to Answer Broad Geographic Questions 95
9 Mysterious Mission Stars: How to Read Snippets in the Search Results and Pay Attention to Search Details 107
10 When Was Oil First Discovered in California? How to Discover and Work Through Multiple Competing Claims in Online Resources 125
11 Can You Die from Apoplexy or Rose Catarrh? How to Find (and Use) Old, Sometimes-Archaic or Obsolete Terminology 137
12 What's That Wreck just Offshore? How to Find Archival Imagery and Use Metadata from Photographs 151
13 Do Flies Have the Pattern of a Spider on Their Wings? How to Check the Credibility of a Resource You've Found 165
14 What's the Connection between "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the General Who Burned the White House? How to Search for Vaguely Remembered Connections between Ideas 179
15 What Causes the Barren Zones around Some Plants? How to Know When You Should Go Offline and Do Research in the Real World 197
16 Is Abyssinia the Same as Eritrea? How to Find Additional Context Information for Your Research 221
17 The Mystery of the Parrotfish, or Where Does That White Sand Really Come From? How to Triangulate Multiple Sources to Find a Definitive Answer 239
18 Did Perry Ever Visit the island of Delos? How to Follow a Long Chain of References to the Ultimate Answer 255
19 On Being a Great Searcher: Rules of Thumb for Asking Great Questions 273
20 The Future of Online Search: Why the Research Skills You Learn Today Will Continue to Be Useful in the Future 289
What People are Saying About This
“As Dan Russell travels the world, he is constantly observing and questioning. His trick is to discover the clues and then to know how to use searching techniques to solve the mystery. Every chapter is a fascinating journey where we learn interesting things about the world, and, incidentally, how to become master searchers ourselves.”Don Norman, Professor and Director, Design Lab, University of California, San Diego; author of The Design of Everyday Things
“Everything you ever need to know about search, but that you never asked because you never thought these things were even possible."Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google since October 2005
“Dan Russell is the number one search expert in the world and here is a captivating book to help everyone learn how to search. It should be required reading in every classroom in the world. There is a reason he is in charge of 'User Happiness' at Google. Easily finding the information you want will make you happy and successful.”Esther Wojcicki, Founder, Media Arts Program at Palo Alto High School; Vice Chair of Creative Commons; journalist for the Huffington Post
“From killer lakes to Mudejar stars, you'll learn the best ways to scratch your itch of curiosity. Russell shows how important research is and how to upgrade your research skills for the internet era.”Matt Cutts, creator of the first family-safe filters for search engines at Google; staff member at the U.S. Digital Service