1 Apr 2011
I have been noticing some patterns in the way I look for information online – which has pretty much become my de facto source of reading and learning. I have avoided using the term “search” in the preceding sentence because, search has become synonymous with Google. In fact, nobody searches these days, everyone googles. Not surprisingly, Google has been a trusty companion of mine for many years.
So far, whenever I needed to look up something, I had always turned to Google. Off late though, I have realised that this is not true. Even though Google is still very good at what it does in the traditional sense of the word “search”, I’m increasingly turning to other sources as well.
Want to know very quickly what people think about something? Twitter search is the perfect place for that. I turn to Twitter when I want to assess a product or service on the surface level. It’s almost like checking the pulse of the crowd on a specific topic. Sometimes, this also helps you unearth some good links. However, it’s the short and sweet vibes/expressions that I find more valuable. Another thing that I like about Twitter search is that these opinions are real-time. Although, I know that I could set-up filters on Google to search for the latest posts, I have never found that to be as effective as Twitter search is.
I find Delicious to be excellent at finding really high quality resources on topics that you already have familiarity with, and are looking for depth rather than width. The links are tagged with descriptive tags, which helps you quickly explore links from other similar topics quickly.
Wikipedia is my people/place search engine. Ever tried googling for the leaning tower of Pisa or for Nostradamus? Wikipedia will most likely be the number one result, and for most cases, the information that Wikipedia provides is more than enough.
As a developer, for most programming related query, I skip Google, and directly search for it on SO. The other StackExchange sites, though, have not yet been able to emulate the kind of success that StackOverflow has enjoyed.
Your mileage might vary. At the end of the day, search is a difficult problem, and no matter what Google does, I believe that a perfect search engine will always be an elusive problem for satisfying all use cases. You should definitely give the above resources a try to see if any of them can solve specific pain points that you might be facing with Google.