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Research on the Web: Part 2
Bose Corporate Library


To learn the best strategies for finding relevant information on the web.


  1. Search engines v. subject guides: what's the difference?
  2. Spider-based search engines: Altavista v. Hotbot
  3. Human-based directories and subject guides
  4. Specialized search tools
  5. Where to find more information

1. Search engines v. subject guides: what's the difference?

Search Engines: Search engines, such as AltaVista, create their listings automatically. "Spiders" crawl the web, then a searchable database is created of what they have found. Keyword searching retrieves documents that contain the word or words you enter. Often times this leads to many irrelevant documents that only mention your search terms in passing.

Directories/Subject Guides: A directory such as Yahoo depends on humans for its listings. Humans collect and read web pages and decide what categories to list them under. You can then browse through the categories to find lists of relevant web sites. Often a search button is included to help you find which categories your topic is listed under. The total scope of a directory like Yahoo is much smaller than a search engine (thousands instead of millions of documents), but your search results are often much more relevant than with search engines.

Exercise for part 1: Identifying search engines vs. subject guides/directories

For each example say whether it is a subject guide, search engine, or both:

  1. Lycos AtoZ
  2. Infoseek
  3. Metacrawler
  4. Hotsheet

2. Spider-based search engines: Search Tips

From AltaVista's help screen: (field searching)

Excercise for part 2: Field searching in Altavista or Hotbot

Choose either Altavista or Hotbot.

  1. Find pages about signal processing from .edu sites. and find pages about signal processing from .com sites. How do they differ?
  2. Find pages with the phrase "time zones" in the title.
  3. Find out how many pages link to www.bose.com:
    a) all
    b) from .edu sites
    c) from .com sites
    d) from sites in japan
  4. Find pages on the host www.hilton.com that mention webtv.
  5. Find images of a tornado.
  6. Using Northern Light's custom folders, find conference pages on signal processing.

3. Human-based directories and subject guides

Excercise for part 3: Finding specialized subject guides

Look at Web Sites for Bose Employees/searching to find subject guides.

Use The Mining Company find a guide to:

  1. telecommuting
  2. business travel
  3. distance learning
Put each one in your bookmark file.

4. Specialized search tools

Start here: Web Sites for Bose Employees: Searching

  1. Meta-search engines: Dogpile
  2. Search for domain names: Check domain status
  3. Search for FAQs: FAQ Finder
  4. Search for images & sounds: Lycos Pictures & Sounds Multimedia Directory
  5. Search for newsgroups: Deja News
  6. Search for stories in the news: Newsbot
  7. Searching for people: WhoWhere?
  8. Search for shareware: Shareware.com
  9. Search for web site reviews: Scout Report Signpost

Excercise for part 4: Using specialized search tools

  1. What are they saying about GM electric cars in the newsgroups? Find and bookmark one message.

  2. Find a picture of a Corvette. Download a copy to your hard drive (temp directory). Add it to your bookmarks.

  3. Think of a domain name for your new (imaginary) web site and find out if it's been taken. Write down your domain name if it's unique, or write down who already has the name you wanted.

  4. Find a FAQ on satellite TV. Add it to your bookmarks.

  5. See if you can find out what "mp3" is by searching for news stories that mention it. Write down the definition of mp3. What is the latest controversy surrounding the use of it?

  6. Think of someone you knew in high school (who you no longer know the whereabouts of) and try to find their address and phone number. Do they have an email address? Email the answer to yourself.

  7. Find a shareware screensaver module for your own computer (Mac, Windows 95 or Windows NT). Bookmark your search results page.

  8. Which 2 search engines return the most hits on the phrase "bose wave radio?" Write down your answer.

  9. Choose either the Scout Report for Science & Engineering, or the Scout Report for Business & Economics. Browse through the current issue and pick 1 or 2 sites your are interested in. Email the URL and description to yourself.

5. Where to find more information:

Best articles on understanding search engines:
How Search Engines Work
Searching the Internet, part 1: Search Engines
Searching the Internet, part 2: Subject Catalogs
Site-ation Perl Growing
"Can you trust your search engine?"
Comparison of seven search engines
Internet Public Library: Links to Search Engines

Choosing an Internet Service Provider:
Article from NUA Internet Surveys on best ISP

Research on the Web, part 1