Don’t Let Google Boss Your Research Efforts – A Friendly Reminder

Do you have a favourite search engine that you depend on to return those must have research resources?  If you are like the rest of the planet this favourite search engine happens to be Google.  Nothing wrong with Google (actually there is) but if you conduct research on a regular basis it is good to remember that a lot of search engines utilize personal data caches stored on your computer.  Many search engines employ search algorithms which result in a faster return of data sources that the search engine deems most useful and pleasing to you.  Sound Great?  Maybe if you are looking for a new way to add some ‘zazz’ to that potato casserole that your family keeps telling you is wonderful but ends up in the dog bowl more often than not, but if you are making a sincere effort at objective research you really need to remove your preferences from the equation and not let software add bias to your work.

If you have two computers in your home you can test this idea of cache bias by conducting identical searches at roughly the same time.  Chances are good that while there will be similarities you will also be receiving different search results.

Image borrowed from Zazzle.ca

It is a great idea to clear your cache on a regular basis, or better yet do yourself a favour and explore some of the other search options out there and don’t forget about the Deep/Dark/Invisible Web. There is a vast amount of data out there that you will never find unless you know how to look for it.

You can think of the internet as you think of the ocean; While popular engines like Google and Yahoo! skim that pretty blue or green part and show you all of the colourful fish and white sand beaches, there are some great digging tools out there such as specialized user databases and online library tools that will show you the dragon vents, giant squid, and all of the ugly fish that live in the dark that science gets really really excited about.  Dig deeper, dig differently.

This link:  http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/10-search-engines-explore-deep-invisible-web/ will show some quick alternatives for online searching and there are a couple in here that will do automatic meta-searching within retrieved sources which in my opinion is a pretty cool feature.  If you are a student your school will likely have a list of paid subscriptions to online data bases posted on their library page. These databases are infinitely useful when seeking credible sources. These examples are just a minute sample of the resources out there and not necessarily what you need for a particular task but rather serve as a great starting point for curious minds.

So at the very least clear that cache!  Surely you can wait the extra .16 of a second for a fresh look.

Comments and sharing are always welcome.

Animal_Static

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9 Responses to “Don’t Let Google Boss Your Research Efforts – A Friendly Reminder”

  1. Thanks for the link. I will investigate it tomorrow. It’s sweet dream time right now. Question: What is “private browsing” and, if I were to use that feature, what are the differences between using that and clearing the cache and reseting the browser? I’m just wondering, like I usually do.

    • Hi Midge,

      Private browsing or “incognito” mode is a user instigated browsing option that will still utilize your existing cache but will not add any new search terms that you generate while in this mode. This is sometimes referred to as “porn mode”. People will turn on the private browsing so that mom or dad or partner wont find an incriminating auto complete when they search for that perfect por-ridge recipe or formatting guide for their por-tfolio. Like wise employed for personal health inquiries etc.

      The general cache is basically all of the safe search terms that most of us are too lazy to erase from the computer and most people never think about period hence the reminder to do some housekeeping.

      Took a quick flip through your page and will revisit tomorrow.

      Cheers

  2. I think we were “drinking the same kool-aid,” so to speak 😉 This is awesome. This article is so informative and succinct. I love the imagery of the dragon and the giant squid. I often feel like I am about to get blasted by a dragon or some other deep web monster.

    I like your advice about clearing your cache. I forget to do that all the time. It would probably make researching much easier! I am going to reblog this. Would you mind if I also quoted your comment to Midge? Let me know if you don’t want me to.

    • Same kool-aid is right! Not sure what the chances of that occurring are but it must be pretty slim. Glad you liked my post and thanks so much for the reblog. Feel free to quote anything you like. Or don’t like for that matter, Critical discourse is how we move forward.

      I have an idea that you might find interesting for a research topic and it kind of falls outside of my current curriculum, blog parameters, and expertise. It would be a thesis oriented contemplation of emergent online intelligence. My notes are pretty rough but i could refine them if you might be interested.

  3. Reblogged this on Cybernid and commented:
    Static_Animal and I somehow stumbled into the same research area! He wrote a great article about search engine bias and it relates to my most recent article about the deep Web. He also posted a great comment respond to a reader that explains what “private browsing” actually is:

    “Private browsing or “incognito” mode is a user instigated browsing option that will still utilize your existing cache but will not add any new search terms that you generate while in this mode. This is sometimes referred to as “porn mode”. People will turn on the private browsing so that mom or dad or partner wont find an incriminating auto complete when they search for that perfect por-ridge recipe or formatting guide for their por-tfolio. Like wise employed for personal health inquiries etc.

    The general cache is basically all of the safe search terms that most of us are too lazy to erase from the computer and most people never think about period hence the reminder to do some housekeeping.”

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