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I am always wary of anything that holds too much of a majority in any one area; Verizon, Wal-Mart, Google.  There are certain benefits to one-stop shopping.  (I happen to love Target, myself.)  However, bigger is not always better.  What if there were nothing but large universities?  Or, no auto choices except for big, hulking SUVs and trucks?  What if only big commercial banks existed?  The smaller ones were better equipped to handle the mortgage crisis and survive the recession.  Do you know any small banks that needed government bailouts?  Imagine if they had not existed and our entire financial system was really totally wiped out.

You might be asking what my point it.  I admit that Google is my homepage.  I’m not proud, but I admit it.  I also feel that as a library and information specialist I can handle having Google as my homepage, because I know alternatives to using it.  I am not a Google-addict, but you may be or you at least know someone who is.

Why should you break the habit?

As I’ve said, bigger is not always better.  Large search engines (I don’t want to vilify Google) try to impress you with large numbers of hits.  I’m not impressed.  It’s simply searching and receiving.  It doesn’t assess real relevance to you or help to evaluate sources for you.  In addition, results are easily encumbered with SPAM.  Search engines are big indexes of the Internet.  Indexes are only useful if they are constructed well and since so much of the Internet is junk, a lot of what is added to the index is junk.

There are truly effective ways to use these large search engines, but I will address that at another time.  What I’m saying today is that smaller, specialized search hubs can provide you with better results for many tasks and it pays to learn more about them.  You do not like them.  So you say.  Try them!  Try Them!  And you may.  Try them and you may, I say.*

SweetSearch – Yes, it’s for students, but student-based resources work for adults, too.  Plus, many adults didn’t grow up with the Internet and need guidance in learning how to be optimal digital information seekers, just as much as today’s students.

Finding Dulcinea (mothersite to Sweet Search) and IPL2 are great website directories.  They specialize in providing pre-reviewed sites, so an authority has at least evaluated the source for you.  Weeding out the junk means that results are not as plentiful, but you were never going to look at page 1033 of hits on that other search engine anyway.

Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Guide a good sites for learning more about searching online.  Give them a look.

*Who said that my 3 year-old can’t help me write my blog.  Thanks, Dr. Seuss for lessons appropriate for any age.