There are many search engines to help us find things on the Internet. In fact, many is an understatement. I found an alphabetical list and only got to the K’s before counting 100! I’m sure you’ve heard of the most popular ones such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, AltaVista, Cuil, Excite, and Lycos. One that I’m not familiar with is GigaBlast. I learned it “was developed by an ex-programmer from Infoseek [and] supports nested boolean search logic using parenthesis and infix notation. A unique search engine, it indexes over 10 billion web pages.” It also claims to be “the leading clean-energy search engine”, whatever that infers.
Years ago I set Google as my homepage because I had a slow Internet connection and wanted an efficient search engine without graphic frills that loaded quickly. Today the frills don’t matter, but I still like Google. Apart from its searching ability I enjoy its Google Doodles.
“Google Doodles are known as the decorative changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists and scientists.” It’s a little thing, but I like knowing, for instance, that today is the birthday of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the great Russian composer, and I’m fascinated by the doodle chosen to illustrate the occasion.
About now I can hear you wondering, “So, does this have anythings at all to do with writing?” But, of course!
Next to the actual writing, research is the writer’s constant occupation. Before the Internet made its way into our homes searching for information was a ponderous process. If you wanted to use a particular place as a story setting you first physically took yourself there to explore and record the necessary details. If you needed historically correct data you haunted the library. Police procedures? Legalities? Medical complications? You sought out and interviewed knowledgeable individuals. Now everything is available at the click of a computer key. There’s no excuse for inaccuracies in our writing.
(There’s also the topic of making yourself visible to others via search engines, but that’s better left for a future post.)
How much and what kind of research do you do for your writing? Which is your favourite search engine?