Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Comparative review From: Aslib Journal of Information Management, Volume 66, Issue 4
Google Search Secrets
Christa Burns and Michael P. Sauers
Expert Internet Searching (4th ed.)
Going Beyond Google Again: Strategies for Using and Teaching the Invisible Web
Jane Devine and Francine Egger-Sider
Keywords Google, Internet, Search engines, Internet searching
New books on better searching the web
It is nice to see the publication of new books for better searching on the web. While we all use the web all the time, most people still lack the very basic skills for searching it efficiently. While the books reviewed may also appeal to the interested internet searchers, their focus is more on students and information professionals.
The book by Christa Burns and Michael P. Sauers, Google Search Secrets, focuses solely on Google. It provides the reader with a guide through the many Google search interfaces, starting with the web search interface, and then continuing with image search, Google news, videos, maps, and the like. The book has many screenshots that make the text easy to follow. The book is a good starting point for the general Google user who wants to know how to make the most out of his or her favourite search engine. It is a pity, though, that the book has a very limited scope in that it's all "just Google", lacking any comparison with other search tools. Therefore, it can be seen as some kind of "missing manual" to the world's favourite search engine, but not as a guide for better searching on the web.
This is where Phil Bradley's Expert Internet Searching comes into play. This book was previously published under the title The Advanced Internet Searcher's Handbook and is now in its fourth edition (the first edition was published in 1999). This book provides a comprehensive review not only of search engines of every purpose imaginable, but also of searching techniques. It starts with introductory chapters on search engines in general and Google in particular, and then continues with chapters on other free-text search engines and different search tools like directories, meta-search engines, social media search engines and the like. Each chapter describes the most important search tools in the respective area and shows how to use that particular type of search engine to the best effect. While it is in the nature of things that a comprehensive book on internet searching must also provide all the basics like Boolean searching, the chapters on specialised search engines like academic search engines or news search engines are of the greatest value even to researchers who thought they knew it all. It is really quite impressive in which detail Phil Bradley is familiar with all the different search tools and their often not well-documented features.
A small drawback is that the book has few illustrations and screenshots, which would have made understanding and remembering the many search engines and search interfaces described a lot easier. Nevertheless, I think this is currently the best book on the market, even though Randolph Hock's (2013) Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook is still worth a look.
The third book, Going Beyond Google Again: Strategies for Using and Teaching the Invisible Web, focuses solely on the part of the web that general-purpose search engines cannot see, i.e. the Invisible Web (IW). The authors say, "The premise of this book is that a knowledge of the Invisible Web can help make students better researchers" (p. 87). The book starts with an introduction to the IW and an overview of some studies on information-seeking behaviour. Then, the authors present results from a survey asking experts and professional librarians on how they see the IW today, and how they integrate the IW into their teaching. The subsequent chapters focus on how to teach the IW to students and give an overview of some good teaching resources. The third part of the book presents a sampler of IW tools. The book closes with an outlook on the future of the IW.
The book is a successor to Going Beyond Google: The Invisible Web in Learning and Teaching by the same authors (Divine and Egger-Sider, 2009). However, it remains unclear how the two books relate to each other. The current title aims to be more than a second edition of the first one, but the focus is too similar to justify publishing two books rather than updating the first one. The two major additions are the chapter on the studies of information-seeking behaviour and the chapter presenting the results from the survey. While the literature review is fine, it is, as the authors themselves say, an update of the corresponding chapter in the first book. And while the results from the survey were surely of interest to the authors for structuring their book and looking into which topics they should discuss in more detail, it seems to me that the results may not be of equal interest to the intended readership of the book. This leaves me with the conclusion that the authors would have been better advised to have updated their first book for a new edition and that we still lack a comprehensive book on the IW.
Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Hamburg, Germany
Devine, J. and Egger-Sider, F. (2009), Going Beyond Google The Invisible Web in Learning and Teaching, Neal Schuman, New York, NY.
Hock, R. (2013), The Extreme Searcher's Internet Handbook, 4th ed., CyberAge Books, Medford, NJ.