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There’s more to life than Google

By Charles Inskip, on 29 February 2016

Last week (Monday Feb 22nd 2016) we had a visit from expert searcher Phil Bradley, who spoke to us about search, where we are, and where we’re going. This report was written by MA LIS student Cathy Goodin:

Phil Bradley talking about search at UCL

Phil Bradley talking about search at UCL

Phil Bradley has a mission: to make everyone, especially librarians, see that using Google alone is like trying to answer every question by opening up Encyclopaedia Britannica.

You may know Phil from Cilip Update, where his sunny by-line photo appears beside the “Internet Q&A” column every month. Phil spoke to us in Foster Court on Monday 22nd February and turned out to be a lot less sunny when he got on to the subject of Google.

Because Google is taking advantage of us.

Google knows we all turn to it automatically, so over the years it has gradually reduced its search functionality (what happened to Advanced Search?) knowing that a poorer list of results will make us more likely to click on a piece of advertising instead.

Which makes money for Google.

And making money is the no.1 aim of all search engines. I thought they were in it to help us find information on the internet, but I was wrong.

Phil’s advice? Don’t slavishly use Google for everything. There are a hundred different search engines out there – in fact there are 400,000 of them depending on how you define “search engine” – so get under the hood of a few and learn what they are capable of.

Use Duckduckgo when you want to preserve your privacy. Use Yandex for Boolean, proximity and synonym search functionality. Try Newslookup.com or NewsNow for news, and Zanran for data and statistics. Try a multi search engine such as Trovando for comprehensive results, and SimilarSites to take one good website and find others like it.

You can find a whole collection of search engines on Phil’s website.

Phil also talked about the future of up-to-date information: social media. YouTube, twitter, Facebook, reddit and the like generate so much content every minute that big search engines can’t keep up. Use something like Social Searcher or SocialMention to find out what has happened in the last few minutes. Or follow what your network are talking about with a collation service like Flipboard or News.me.

We are in a transition time. Internet search is changing. People don’t want to look at a website to see what a company or organisation is saying – they want to hear from individuals who are experts in a particular field.

Phil encourages us to find our own experts, and then to become experts – to post as knowledgeable people using whatever the social media platform of the moment might be, until we ourselves are the go-to sources of information for others.

 

Author: Cathy Goodin, 29 Feb 2016

 

Phil Bradley’s slides can be downloaded here

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