Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Search Engines

Walter Scales responds to Dave Beckett's article on search engines in issue 16.

In issue 16 of Ariadne Dave Beckett wrote an interesting article on search engines. In that article he refers to lots of examples of UK-based and other searching services, and, albeit with some trepidation in view of the fact that Dave is normally the one doing the reviewing rather than being on the spot himself, I couldn’t resist the temptation of having a look at some of the resources he mentions in his excellent “Where in the World… is that ‘UK’ search engine/directory?” page at http://acdc.hensa.ac.uk/where.shtml. I’m particularly interested in the “tone” (wonderfully old-fashioned word!) of the different sites, as I’m working with Verity, a European project aiming to develop a searching service for 13-19 year olds.

Some of the resources mentioned here or new to me or are services I hadn’t come across much before. At first, for example, I quite liked the look of “God” (Global Online Directory) http://www.god.co.uk/ which I first thought rather lived up to its snappily whimsical name: it had a nice young look to it, and the way it appeared to marshal its resources looked clear and easy to use, but wait: when I tried to do a “PeopleFinder” search it dumped me into Yahoo! Also, I wasn’t too impressed with the fact that it found nothing when I entered the search term Sunderland AFC but found lots when I entered the term Newcastle United. So, although because of that I couldn’t take it too seriously (!), I did definitely like the look of it and the snappy way in which it was written.

An even more interesting resource for which I have to thank Dave is Whatsnew.com in the UK, at http://www.whatsnew.com/whatsnew/uk/ This really is a refreshing site because it offers intelligent choices and intelligent comments to help you make those choices. Far be it from me to advocate prescriptive sites or even sites which are (heavily) censored, but it’s so refreshing to have neat two line comments from the very start: makes you feel that not only is the light on but there is actually someone at home. I didn’t particularly mind that the first time I saw this site the fifth or sixth item listed was a Middlesbrough Football Club resource - it’s a free country. That’s the other good thing about this site: it offers you the choice of staying firmly with UK-based resources, or European, or US or Global. Nice to have the opportunity to do this. Perhaps with current charging changes in the UK this is a trend that will occur more often in UK-based services. Whatever the reasons, I like it.

I really like Whatsnewcom because it really does seem up to date: if you can imagine a service based around the idea of a subject catalogue but without a trace of an actual subject catalogue in sight, then this is it. Definitely “one for the people”. The key criterion seems to be that the resources mentioned should be interesting and can fall neatly into a few neat categories such as travel, theatre etc. Highly recommended. Thanks Dave for all your good pointers.

Author Details

Walter Scales

Email: walter.scales@sunderland.ac.uk