Research Processes

May 11, 2008

If one wants to find something online, they sometimes have to be creative.

Combing through tags at different sites, such as del.icio.us or a blogging site such as WordPress or Blogger, helps find links that other people would consider to be relevant. Even Technorati uses tags, which is very useful when you aren’t sure of what keyword to use.

There are also many other alternative search engines out there, including visual search engines (like searchme, which was reviewed at Techsnack) and searches that search several different search engines (like dogpile). ReadWriteWeb had an article awhile back called Top 100 Alternative Search Engines. There, you can find a search engine for any kind of media, or a certain type of search engine. You want to search blogs? You don’t need to use Google’s Blogsearch, you can just use Blogdigger.com. While those searches vary in quality, it is interesting to see so many of them listed in one place.

WebWorkerDaily also has a list of 8 Alternative Search Engines. They include reviews of the different search engines as well, so you know those are good quality. They even mentioned zabasearch.com, which I personally like because it helps find people that aren’t in the phone books.

You can even use an alternative web browser to help your search. Tech Radar has a list of 8 alternative web browsers that have their own special features. I mention this because it mentions browsers such as Flock and SpaceTime that could be used to streamline searches. Flock connects directly to social networking sites, such as Facebook and even YouTube, so you don’t actually have to go to them to check up on them. SpaceTime is unique in that it lets to flip through sites in 3D. That may not seem like much use, but it could be useful if you’re like me and have a million tabs open while searching. It also has a built in search tool that lets you search a whole list of sites, including Flickr and YouTube.

RSS feeds are another way to search. syndic8.com is a search engine that searches RSS feeds only. If you want to constantly keep up to date. News is Free is a browser-based alert system that keeps you up to date with your blogs and news. They also have a news search tool.

If the site doesn’t have an RSS feed, then page monitors are the way to go. There are many email, online, and downloadable monitors out there, including Google Alerts. There is also googlealert.com. What’s odd about this alert system is that it came before Google Alerts. Its website seems to also have a different target audience, seeing as how the site mentions it as a business tool.

If you want to narrow down your search options, Google has a page where they describe syntaxes to optimize a search online. The link is here: Search Operators. These typically work at any site, not just Google’s search engine. Of course, if you’re feeling Google loyalty, they do have quite a few other programs, some of which would be very good for searches. Here’s a Wikipedia article about the whole range of Google products.

Last but not least, you could search iTunes’s Store. They do have an assortment of Podcasts that may be on the subject you’re trying to search. I’ve even seen blogs with Podcasts.