I’m a huge fan of Information Wants To Be Free, a wonderful blog for librarians by Meridith Wolfwater. I’ll be writing more about her blog later, but I wanted to point out a great article called Whatever you do, don’t use Google.
After we teach our students how to distinguish between authoritative and unauthoritative resources, we need to actually show them how to find such authoritative resources. While our databases are great, they sometimes aren’t the most user-friendly things to search (LexisNexis anyone?). And frankly, these students won’t have access to the databases once they graduate and yet they may still have to do research in their subject area. So it’s nice to show students that there are some great resources in their subject that are freely available on the Web.
There are a ton of great searchable resources on the web that aren’t Google or Google related. Meredith offers a wide variety of great resource to search in her article, but it got me thinking about the issue of everyone going Google or Yahoo! for their searches. It certainly does leave out a lot of great stuff that is out there, just waiting to be explored.
It also leaves out a good process of validation of information. Not everything you find on Google is the truth, nor is it often even close to accurate. It is often conjecture, assumption, and usually opinion rather than fact. Searching for facts often means searching outside of the normal search engines.
I’m very worried about the next generations – hey, even this generation – growing up with an expectation of accuracy on the Internet. It used to be “if it is published in the news, it’s the truth”. While you would think this myth was dispelled, trash papers like the Enquirer, The Star, and Weekly World News are still among the best selling “newspapers”. Now, the motto is “if it’s published on the net, it must be truth”, and while this is so far from any possibility of truth, I hear people quote “facts” from the web all the time. I recently had several friends who are over-educated and wise tell me about “expert” information forwarded to their email from otherwise trustworthy friends – totally bunk information from people on both ends of the email who should know better. If it is on the net or in your email, trust me, it’s likely not true. Check before you spread the rumors and hoaxes around.
Want to know the truth about a rumor you heard? You can explore popular urban legends with Snopes, the Urban Legends Reference Pages.
For more serious research, Refdesk.com is a great online “reference desk” with a ton of resources, news and information, and there is still the traditional Encyclopædia Britannica, a resource many of us turned to long before computers entered our libraries and homes.
For poetry, quotes, sayings, and more reference material, there is the old fashioned dictionary and reference resouce, Bartlebys, home of a wide variety of online and historical encyclopedias and reference books, as well as dictionaries, thesaurus, poetry and verse, quotes, and a wide variety of anthologies and collections online of fiction and non-fiction books.
Meredith mentions ResourceShelf, a fabulous place for online references, and don’t forget that your local library may allow you online access to their library network from home, giving you access to ProQuest Information and Learning educational and reference database, and HeritageQuest, a vast educational and historical genealogy data research site, along with access to online newspapers and other online databases and research.
I’ve talked about trying other methods of searching without using Google, and I’d like to know if you reach outside of the search engine box to search and what you use for online resources, references, and search engines or directories besides Google and Yahoo!. So where do you go when you are looking for good references?
- The Changing Face of Search Engines: Try Not Searching Google for a Change
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- Google Page Ranks, Google News, Google Gossip, Google Blues
- Secret Out – How Google Ranks Websites
- How People Search the Web and How They Can Find Your Blog
- How Search Engines See, Search, and Visit Your Website
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- See What Search Engines See When They Visit Your Website
- More Than You Want to Know – Search Engine Articles, Information, and Resources
- Blogging Tips – Hundreds of Resources for Finding Content for Your Blog
- One Year Anniversary Review: Searching and Search Engines
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network