Searching the Depths of the ‘Net

Here’s a useful post for a change.

How many times have you been searching for something on the internet, but couldn’t find exactly what you were looking for? It happens to all of us eventually. However, the fact really is that most internet users just expect or assume that by searching for something in a search engine (such as the almighty Google), that all possible results will be returned. In other words, we assume that if we cannot find it by Google-ing it, then chances are, what we are looking for simply does not exist.

Think again, you must, young Jedi…

The fact is that there is a vast amount of information out there and, surprise, surprise…. Google only shows us a tiny amount of what is really lurking under the surface. By the way, this is not limited to just Google. All the other search engines have their limitations as well.

So, you ask young Jedi, “Master, how can I find the things hidden deep in the dark recesses of the world-wide-web?”. Younglings you must gather, and show you I will (O.K…enough of the Yoda references):

Dogpile (www.dogpile.com)
I’ve been recommending this search engine for years. What this site does, is search the four major search engines (Google, MSN, Yahoo and Ask) all at once. So rather than try Google, then MSN, then Yahoo, etc., you can simply search them all using Dogpile and chances are you will get better results. Pretty nifty… I know. :)

As for the other search engines out there, it hardly makes any sense using them, as they all tend to index these “big four” search engines anyway… so you’re getting the same results. With the exception of AltaVista, which I will get to next.

Clusty! (www.clusty.com)
Clusty is a more, shall we call it, comprehensive search. It looks in all the deep crevasses that all those other search engines really ignore. This does not mean that it’s perfect, because the big-four search engines ignore a lot of stuff deliberately. Using Clusty will return more junk and you may have to sift through a lot of garbage to find what you’re looking for. However, if you’re really looking for something and having no success with Google or Dogpile, I’d suggest Clusty as the next step. Also, do any of you remember AltaVista? Yes, it’s still around. It got a licking after Google came out and took over the world, but it too will provide similar results to Clusty. Check them out.

Wayback Machine (www.archive.org)
Maybe what you’re looking for no longer exists, because the page no longer exists? That’s OK, the Wayback Machine should have an index of it. I personally love this site. The only snag here is, you have to give it an exact website address (URL). Once you have that URL, you can find the entire history for the domain – sometimes through several owners!

Other specialised search engines

USA Library of Congress – For my American brothers and sisters, this is a great site for finding research materials for scholarly interests. If any of you can suggest sites for Jamaica/CARICOM, please let me know!
Nelson Search – If you’re looking for a journalistic piece, you can’t beat the self-proclaimed search engine for journalists. If there was a news story on it, it’s here.

Intute – Intute is the only search engine which uses only web pages quality-checked by human researchers – guaranteeing that you’ll never get a spam hit!

Bloglines – A search engine just for finding blogs. Anything that’s a blog is here, and these days the web is mostly blogs anyway!

Important note: This deeper darker side to the internet is really mostly comprised of crap. For example: (a) spam sites that were rejected by other search engines for quality (b) personal home pages or bulletin board archives, and other stuff that is usually of no interest to the general public (c) academia, which exists in its own world (d) government, which we all know exists in a world of its own and lastly, (e) criminal and underground sites that aren’t in too great a hurry to be found in the first place. Be careful when using the techniques and sites mentioned above.

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