Many people talk about how the Internet gives everyone access to vast amounts of information; however, few people talk about how hard it can be to find that information. Fortunately, Internet search companies are developing capabilities to make the infinite sea of Internet information easier to navigate. Here are a few features to check out the next time you are looking for something specific:
Google is more than just a Spartan Web page that produces good search results. It also offers specific tools designed to help users find specific kinds of information. By using the links in the upper left-hand of the homepage, you can search through images, news stories and—by clicking the “More” link to open the menu—newsgroups, books, scholarly publications and weblogs. These more narrowly focused searches can help cut out some of the clutter than makes other searches difficult to navigate and help you find the information you are looking for more quickly.
While it is a new and developing technology, visual search has the potential to change the way we look for information online. The companies providing visual search are constantly changing, but recent entrants include Bing’s visual search galleries located at http://www.bing.com/visualsearch and the dedicated visual search engine KartOO located at http://www.kartoo.com. Using these kinds of searches, a user can find information by what it looks like rather than by what has been written about it, which can be especially helpful when you are not exactly sure what to call what you are looking for.
“Search engine” is not a fair description for the way this capability works. Internet information calculator or perhaps the site’s own description—“computational knowledge engine”— might be a better term. Whatever someone wants to call it, the site gives users the ability to call up detailed information about categorical knowledge. Type “pi” into Wolfram Alpha, and it will give you back an entire page full of mathematical information about the term. Type in Barak Obama, an you get a quick summary of information about the president. While it is not always able to provide results yet, Wolfram Alpha offers a new and different way to handle information.
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