Are Search Engines?
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In the April 3rd
SCIENCE, Steve Lawrence and C. Lee Giles report on their
investigation of coverage by web browsers. They
estimate the web has 320 million indexable pages.
Coverage the browsers they examined were:
The authors, quite reasonably conclude, that if you want
to have the best results from searching, it pays to use
multiple browsers or a softbot web search intelligent
Our experience is that Alta Vista is pretty good for
searching for scientific and technical material as well
as product literature. But we too find that just relying
on Alta Vista causes you to miss important sites. So we
usually begin by conducting a Metacrawler search (http://www.metacrawler.com/). We use that search to identify which
search engines seem to be producing the best results and
then use those engines for more complicated queries which
cannot be supported by metacrawler and other search
engines which browse on the results of other engines.
Another approach, implemented internally at Foresight, is
to store useful sites by profiles. That is, each site
identified in the firm in connection with
commercialization work is stored in a data base together
with motivations for searching and information on the
technology, applications, markets, and industries
involved (the profile). A case based reasoner allows
us to rapidly retrieve sites found useful on prior
projects. If you figure it often takes between five
and 15 minutes to find a highly useful site, the ability
to cut that search time to seconds has clear
utility. You can make a simple variant of this tool
yourself by organizing your "favorites" in your
browser into appropriate folders. Folders can be
attached as e-mails
for sending to colleagues.
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