Meta-Searching

By thauckthauck (1228312510|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

So, we’ve come to the end of the BIT 330 road… What can I say? It’s been quite the (electronic) ride. I used to like to think I was pretty internet savvy, but now I know that there is a lot more out there for me to learn about, and that being “internet savvy” really means one has the skills to adapt to the ever-changing online landscape.

Meta-Search Engines

wally.jpg

That brings me to my final blog entry, an exploration of meta-search engines. Basically, these resources exist in two categories: 1.) A search engine that combines a bunch of other search engines and yields you one set of results, or 2.) a search engine that allows you to search a bunch of different search engines at the same time, each search engine yielding its own results. The benefits of using these tools are obvious, as you are able to search more with less effort.

When I first tried using these tools in class, I admittedly did not have a ton of luck with them. I searched for [“southeast Michigan”|Detroit “public transportation”|”public transit”] and was not overly impressed with what I returned on the meta-searches, but had 100% success with both Google and Yahoo!.

A Second Chance

I decided to give it a go again using the meta-searches that provide one, concise set of results from multiple search engines. I decided that maybe I should think about a more versatile query, because my problems with meta-searches before likely resulted from an error on my part, and nothing to do with the tools themselves. I decided to use the tool this time to look for a topic that is noticeably missing right now from my wiki: WALLY. WALLY is a proposed commuter rail line that will link Ann Arbor with its northern suburbs in Livingston County. This time, I went with the query [WALLY Michigan “Ann Arbor”] and ran it on ixQuick, a meta-search that has an interface that I like.

I had a good deal of luck yielding results on this topic, which is nice because it is actually something I have had a hard time finding a lot of information about. Ann Arbor is not a major US metropolis, so information about its transit infrastructure is sometimes a little bit harder to come by than Detroit’s. It is quite possible that I was only so lucky finding things on ixQuick this time because there was a press release recently about WALLY's operator. There was only one way to see if my suspicions were correct, so I headed back over to Google…

Interesting find… Google yielded me about the same amount of relevant results as ixQuick, but they are different results! Again, the results were pretty news heavy, but I suppose that is a symptom of searching for a topic that is so current, rather than having anything to do with the search tools themselves. So, at the end of the day it looks like it was worth my time to use the meta-search, not because it yielded me much higher quality results, but rather because what I got back was different.

Final Thoughts

I definitely think that meta-searches are a good resource, especially if you are crunched for time. It can be a hassle to go out and search a ton of different websites, but meta-searches do the work for you. I probably would have missed out on a significant amount of the information available about WALLY if I didn’t ever venture over to ixQuick.

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