Searching it All

When I’m searching for things on the internet, I really don’t want to spend time wandering around aimlessly trying one strategy and then another.

I’ve had a lot of success by changing the way that I think about search. I like to frame my thoughts in the form of a question.  This helps me generate the expressions that feed my searching process.  Thank you Alex Trebek.

The way I figure it, at least currently, there are three types of things that might reasonably lead to answers to my question.  First, there’s a database of darn near everything put online.  That leads me, of course, to Google.

But, secondly, I do a great deal of reading and discovery.  I interact with a lot of smart people and that generates some great content.  I tuck the best of the best away in my Diigo account.  (It’s public; I figure if I found it, there might be someone somewhere that could use it as well.)

Finally, there are things that are happening right now.  This instant, in fact.  You can’t beat Twitter for that.  That can lead to an instant answer to a question and maybe Google doesn’t know about it or places a different relevancy to it.

How can one get the best of all of these?  Well, you could do it in three steps, or you could do it in three tabs.

There’s another way.  Combine them.

In the news today is the monkey found in the IKEA store.  Here’s what it looks like using my current search strategy…

Searching for “monkey”!

In my Chrome Browser, after doing the search, I’m seeing…

1)  Here are the standard results from a Google Search

2)  Here are the results from my Diigo library.  Apparently, I’ve never bookmarked anything about monkeys before!

3)  This is the live Twitter discussion including the term monkey.

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Making Google the default search is easy.  I chose the Encrypted Google option as default.

—–

I have the Diigo Chrome Extension installed so that I can easily bookmark resources on the web and send them to my Diigo account.  If you check the settings, there’s an option to select your Diigo account when doing a Google search.  I used to make Diigo my default search engine but this gives me the best of both worlds.

—–

Finally, the Twitter part is achieved with the HashPlug extension.  Install it and the current Twitter conversation surrounding your search appears and is refreshed live on the right side of the screen.  As you know, it’s also the preview area for Google results so if you mouse over the results, they do pop up as per normal.  It’s worth noting that HashPlug displays 3 or 4 results in the space allotted and when more are returned, you get a set of scrollbars to keep on looking.

—–

This is my current way of configuring things to give me the best results for my time spent searching.  For my purposes, it has made all three search strategies pretty efficient.

Got a better way?  I’d be interested in reading about it.  There’s room below.

4 thoughts on “Searching it All”

  1. I like to frame my thoughts in the form of a question.

    Sometimes when I’m using a search engine, I frame my thoughts in the form of an answer, leaving out the parts that I don’t know. The difference isn’t drastic in the results that are returned, but sometimes it filters out noise as well as questions that no one has yet answered.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your system! As a librarian, I’m always intrigued to see how the regular folks use the tools available to them. :) Did you know you can do Boolean searching on Google (and Twitter, actually), so you can really drill down to exactly what you want (of course, you have to know that first). So, for instance, you could do a search like

    ikea (monkey OR macaque) -gorilla

    actually developing your search, figuring out what concepts you need to use, which is much more important than how you actually type it into the search box, is the tricky part. It sounds like you have some methods that work for you, but if you need help, you can always talk to your friendly information professional!

    (and apologies if you already knew all this, but I couldn’t resist the open opportunity to alert your readers to librarian skillz!)

    Links:
    Google operators: http://support.google.com/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=136861
    Twitter operators: https://support.twitter.com/articles/71577-how-to-use-advanced-twitter-search#

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