I'm addicted to searching the web. So, every morning, bright and early, before the morning newspaper lands at my door, I've already scanned the "news search engines" for the latest stories that interest me. Invariably, some issue will be so compelling I'll use one of several "smart" search-engines to find out more. By using the latest search engines, anyone can weed through literally millions of documents and websites (and all before breakfast!)
Below, you'll find a terrific selection of search engines. Obviously, there are many others I could have listed, but these are the ones I regularly use:
Alta Vista , Ask Jeeves , Dejanews , Dogpile , Excite , Go2Net , Electric Library , Hotbot , Profusion , and Yahoo!.
Dogpile uses a "shotgun" approach to searching: when you enter a search term, it submits that search to several search engines simultaneously. Dejanews is particularly useful when searching for individual postings on public chat groups. Ask Jeeves allows you to phrase your search in question form: "Where can I find tacos in North Dakota?" and "Who was Ross Perot's running mate?" for example. Electric Library plows through a staggering variety of on-line magazines, books, newspapers, maps, and transcripts. In addition, their eLibrary Tracker will continue to search the database for new articles on topics you select, and deliver them free to your email address.
But my two favorite general search engines are: All The Web and Google . These provide super-fast and remarkably perceptive searches. Relevant material is found by ranking sites by how popular they are.
When you want to find who is behind the unwanted e-mail you have received or to discover who owns the strange website you've just stumbled upon, go to Sam Spade. This website organization offers a variety of specialized tools to search and uncover website and e-mail ownership. Though it is designed to combat "spammers" (folks who send volumes of unsolicited and unwanted e-mail), I think you'll be impressed how quickly the Sam Spade site will help you track down people and companies on the web. To learn how search engines work and for a more comprehensive list, check out Search Engine Watch. For a fee, they offer a service that promises to give your web-site higher visibility on search engines like those mentioned above.
If news is what you're after, here are some wonderful news search tools: You can train Excite's NewsTracker to learn what you are interested in by news topic. InfoJump indexes articles from over 4,000 electronic publications. The goal of News Index is to refresh the index of worldwide stories from hundreds of sources every hour. Similarly, NewsHub searches news (particularly on technology) from a wide variety of sources worldwide.
For a fantastic compendium of news-related searching and reference tools, I've set my own home page to "The Newsroom Home Page" AssignmentEditor.com . This "complete find-it" site will knock your socks off! For "busy executives," Ceoexpress.com/ is a similarly designed rich source of business information and critical search tools.
My favorite news search engine is Northern Light which gathers and refreshes news from wire services and newspapers throughout the day. You can also sort and search news by date or relevance.
For searching foreign news, here are some useful sites: NewsNow lets you search a month of headlines from nearly 150 (largely British) news sources. AltaVista Canadian News Index gathers information from over 300 Canadian news sources daily. For a South African perspective, go to Fanagalo. Paperball and Paperboy let you search news from Germany and elsewhere. NewsTrawler allows you to query hundreds of worldwide news sites from a single location.
News junkies will want to check out these nifty web-based services: Total News lets you search for the latest articles and allows you to create a personal Internet edition based on subject areas and news sources you determine in advance. If you're willing to put up with a fairly large ad, you can download Scroller,WorldFlash's news and information ticker. The latest wires, sports scores, and stock prices are updated live on a lower-third "crawl" on your screen. Downloading and installing Pointcast offers you similar updated headlines and a robust series of choices letting you receive searchable and customized news.
For a more "human" approach to searching, try About.com . They've hired more than 600 "guides" who have created and organized material in vast "targetted environments." They'll even respond to questions within 24-hours. About.com's C.E.O., Scott Kurnit, believes the human-touch will provide more intelligent results with fewer irrelevant "hits."
The 'bazaar' of search engines (and I mean 'bizarre'!) is Goto.com which allows websites and companies to pay to be ranked highest. On-line gambling companies, for example, were paying over $6.00 per "hit" just to be first on the Goto.com rankings. Check it out... but bring your check book if you want to be first on the list.
Ellen Chamberlain, of the University of South Carolina Beaufort campus, created a terrific on-line course for learning how to more effectively use the search engines I've described above: BARE BONES 101: A Basic Tutorial on Searching the Web. If you want to hone your searching skills, try it.
It was just a few years ago that only librarians, journalists, and lawyers had access to on-line searchable databases. Now, this technology has become more ubiquitous, affordable, and robust. The problem now is not finding too little... it' finding too much. May you find what you are looking for!
by Daniel Dubno
Copyright 2002 CBS. All rights reserved.