Using Google to search the Internet is a lot like trying to find a book without a card catalogue. A what?! That’s right, one of those old, wooden, set of drawers containing all you need to know about every book in the library. The same hulking repository of index cards that is no longer found in most libraries was a much better search tool than Google because its database was linked to keyword and subject, unlike Google’s page ranking system and keyword system. Google, while the dominant search engine of the current Internet age, is in danger of becoming as obsolete as those flimsy three by five inch cards if it maintains its current system of popularity influenced site rankings.
Why do I believe this? Richard has shared a new search engine that he discovered elsewhere in the blogosphere that takes the hulking mass of the Internet and organizes it into neat categorized results; Clusty. Despite it’s whimsical name (much like Google’s) Clusty has many advantages over Google. You don’t have to come up with your own categories or subjects in order to tighten, or refine, the search. You also don’t have to rely on Google’s theory of “the most popular web site is the best.” You don’t have to guess what might be written on that perfect page you need, just navigate the categories and subcategories in much the same way you would use Ebay to find that one specific treasure you’ve been hunting for.
Need proof? I did a search last night for a web site that had information for ecosystems, energy pyramids, and had an engaging activity for my students. Using Clusty I typed in “energy pyramids.” I was presented with over 240,000 results and categorized results on the sidebar. I clicked on the “Food Chains” category, and then the “How Food Chains Work” subcategory. The result was a less than one minute search which produced a high quality web site from the BBC challenging users to explore a coral reef, figure out what organisms are living there, place them in the right animal group, create a food chain, construct an energy pyramid, and then build a food web with all of the information. In an effort to give Google an equal chance I typed in “energy pyramids” and was presented with over 1.5 million sites, with the first few pages of results being nowhere as engaging or informative as the BBC site. To make a long story short, 5 minutes later and several search strings I finally found the same BBC site with Google by typing in “”energy pyramids” +”food webs” +games.” Perhaps my searching knowledge isn’t up to par, but I do know that even a few minutes saved in finding resources can mean the world to teachers.