Culture Club

Online Search Techniques

“The diversity of cultures represented on the Web is an amazing and wonderful thing,” notes Web expert Barbara G. Friedman, who adds, “But online searches are easily thwarted if the user fails to take into account the myriad spellings and meanings that accompany that diversity. Searching for one will not find sites that use the other spelling, or for that matter sites containing misspellings. In addition, the same word can have alternate meanings even within a single language.”

In her book Web Search Savvy: Strategies and Shortcuts for Online Research (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005), 20, she offers the following heads-up:

A search effort should take that into account…For example, in English, the word “bank” has several definitions having nothing to do with money. In the U. S., the word “flat” can refer to a level surface, a musical note, or a deflated tire; whereas in Britain a “flat” might refer to an apartment. Unless you provide a search engine more exacting terms your results will be numerous, including sites containing all meanings.

Friedman’s book contains a wealth of information about online search strategy, including other things that can sabotage a search. Check it out.

1 reply
  1. Leighton says:

    I think this is a gray area. I have Comptons CD encyclopedia before Britannica bought it and they provided many links within their articles. I don’t see that Britannica did that on most of their DVD’s. I think they tried but some of them were a nightmare. Britannica 2000 Even though they didn’t insist upon using content from the web you still had to be hooked up to a working internet connection in order to access their content. I remember that being a nightmare as I was a newbie to computers and later on 5 years later many of their links are not working. Microsoft Encarta is dead. How about Questia securing rights to that since MS is not offering it and for Collier’s Encyclopedia and Funk and Wagnells. But the links in these programs were far better and more varied then Wikileaks. The Internet I feel has done the opposite I feel it has gotten far less academic. Yeah there are many strange pages but so many academic topics are not there. Geometry for example Jean Piaget’s books. No online flight simulation games. The other issue is that nowhere on the Britannica Dvd am I finding the Propedia volume 1975 Encyclopedia Britannica Propedia but the Propedia 1987.(they are different one has chapter outlines that thread and the newer one I like far less!!! and for the older edition You should try to get those volumes because they provide a working vocabulary that is important that no one uses and it might bring academics back in style. I hate this awesome, amazing, cool dumb response by a lack of response double negative language.

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