Google Is Not All Knowing

As a librarian, I frequently tell people that Google is not the best tool for research; but I do acknowledge that the search engine is useful and has its purposes. Recently, I was trying to find out if a local journal was still being published. Trawling through several pages of Google search results yielded only ex-editors and reviewers, a defunct web address, old phone numbers and addresses, and acronym websites. It did look like the journal had ceased publication.

I have been using search engines for what seems like forever (anyone still remember Excite and Cicada? Does anyone still use Mamma and Hotbot?) and experience taught me that Google usually has the best and most up to date results. This time, though, I had the nagging feeling that Google was not giving me the whole story. Lo and behold, after entering the exact same search into Yahoo, I got what I wanted, at the very first result on the first page.

Habit can be a terrible obstacle to overcome. How many times have I “googled” for something and considered the results I received the best ones I could get? I’m sure many students are in the same boat as I am when it comes to searching for information. We get the available data from sources we are accustomed to using, and forget or ignore the other alternatives that could give us better results.

I guess it is time to bookmark a few more search engines in my browser. (My apologies for the over-use of the word “results”. I may also need to buy a new thesaurus.)

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