November 10, 2007
Complete PlanetComplete Planet is a search engine that attempts to make the "Deep Web" more accessible. You may ask why can't I just use Google or Yahoo to find these deep spots in the web. Well the reason that the Deep Web doesn't appear in normal search results is because the computer web crawlers (that Google and other search engines use to find information) can't crawl through every item on a sites database. For instance when you go to a site that has a searchable database of items, you design a query and search for items. But if you change one word, you get different results. In fact there are thousands of different queries that you could type, each returning different results. The web crawlers can't possibly check every query on every site, so there is tons of data not being indexed by web crawlers. These sites are the Deep Web--which is actually larger than the visible web. As I was saying before, Complete Planet attempts to make the Deep Web more accessible by providing a place to search for databases. For my purposes, I searched Complete Planet in three different ways: normal query, advanced query, and browsing with a query. Normal Query The first thing I did when I arrived at Complete Planet was type in my query [Health Benefits Organic Food], but this didn't return any results. I tried making the search as unspecific as possible, but when I just had [organic health] the results where not relevant. I also tried to use boolean search syntax, however, this also returned zero results. Advanced Query Now I figured I should at least try the advanced search before I gave up on Complete Planet. The format was easy enough to understand, but again my search didn't return any results. Browsing with a Query Finally (when I was almost going to write Complete Planet off as a bad site), I tried browsing through Complete Planet's indexed databases. I first clicked on Health, and then nutrition. Once I was in the nutrition tree (tree is the term Complete Planet uses to describe a category) I searched within that tree for [Organic]. This returned some relevant results. I then went back to the home page and tried browsing and searching different trees and eventually found the following three databases:
October 29, 2007
Librarian’s Internet Index
Like I said before I don’t like going to libraries because I don’t like asking for help. Unfortunately, I found out that you’ll often need to ask for help if your trying to figure out a new interface. I thought I could trick this asking for help business by using the Librarian’s Internet Index instead of the University’s search tools. But alas, my plans were foiled again.
I went to the Librarian’s Internet Index and was pleasantly surprised by the simple interface and the slogan “Website’s You Can Trust.” I typed in my query [Health Benefits Organic Food] and examined the results. At first, I was excited because the results appeared to be very focused. Unfortunately, they didn’t include any relevant information. I didn’t find a single result that was even about organic food!
If you want to look at a pretty interface and subscribe to ghost feeds, then I would definitely recommend this site. But if you are seriously searching for information, stay far away from this library.
October 20, 2007
UM Library Tools
I find the library can be an intimidating place when you are trying to find information. Especially, because you almost always need to ask for help when finding something you want. This is why I usually turn to the libraries online catalogs first. Plus, who wants to spend the time finding a book buried in the Graduate Libraries Stacks when you can find great research from online articles.
I typed my query [Health Benefits Organic Food] in to the search bar and checked the general interest category. This returned 62 articles about the topic—which is unbelievably focuses when you compare with the 1,910,000 documents returned by Google search. I skimmed through the results and most of the documents seemed very relevant. I clicked on a few and tried to follow them to the online text, but I ran in to some problems. I couldn’t find the online documents. Every time I followed their links it would take me to the database where the article was saved. I would search for the specific article, but would be unsuccessful—looks like I need a librarian after all.
So basically, the university has great resources and tons of relevant information. However, it can be difficult to find if you don’t know how to use their system. If all else fails ask a librarian (after all it is their job).
While looking around in the University’s databases I found the following articles:
· Does It Pay To Buy Organic? For pregnant women and children, the benefits are worth the higher price. Carol Marie Cropper. Business Week, Sept 6, 2004.
Organics. Sanjay Gupta. Time, Aug. 20,
I also played with Lexis Nexis and the following articles caught my eye:
· Confirmed: Organic food better for health; Study finds it contains 40% more antioxidants, which may end debate on benefits of such food The Straits Times (Singapore), October 29, 2007 Monday, 710 words
· Organic is healthier; Veg have 40pc more nutrients Milk has 80pc more antioxidants Daily Mail (London), October 29, 2007 Monday, 2ND; Pg. 24, 582 words, David Derbyshire
· Food for Thought: The Organic Truth Blogcritics.org Culture, February 22, 2006 Wednesday 3:33 PM EST, 1977 words, Natalie Davis
· Scientists back health claims of organic milk The Grocer, September 02, 2006, FRESH PRODUCE; Pg. 77, 290 words, Chris Walkland
October 01, 2007
I was skeptical about using Google Scholar, and after playing around with this search tool all I can say is DON’T USE IT!!! I’m a die hard Google fan, but this is not one of their better products.
I searched for my standard query [Health Benefits “Organic Food”], but the first ten results didn’t return any relevant results. I expanded the query to return the first 50 items, and there still wasn’t any document that jumped out at me screaming “HEY I’M WHAT YOUR LOOKING FOR!”
The one feature I really liked on Google Scholar has the “sited by” (number of times the article was cited). Unfortunately, there was no way to sort the results by the most cited document. For the guiros of search, Google really dropped the ball on this one.
Moreover in the first 50 results, there were only 5 articles from 2007. The information about Organic Food is growing quickly as there is an increase in consumer demand (but where is the Gscholar?) I was not impressed by Google Scholar, and did not use any of the data from its returned results.
September 24, 2007
Yahoo Web Search
I’ve never been a huge fan of Yahoo, but they recently updated their interface to include suggestions as you type your query. This is a very cool feature, and can be especially helpful when you don’t know what other words to add to your query.
I typed my standard query [Health Benefits “Organic Food”] and then scrolled through the results. I was pleased to see that the second result had the word report in the title (which signals to me that it is more credible). I followed the link and read a summary of a recent study found that fruits grown without pesticides had significantly higher level of antioxidants. The benefits of these antioxidants may be enough to prove the health benefits of organic food (but of course I will keep searching).
I went back to yahoo to follow some other query results. While scrolling through the results, I noticed .edu and Princeton in the url of a result (so I assumed it was a legit source). And I was pleased with the organization of the Princeton site. There were three health benefits clearly labeled with supporting data. The benefits they sited where as follows:
1. Risks from chemical contamination (see data)
2. Risks from supplemental hormones (see data)
3. Risks from overuse of antibiotics (see data)
I decided to play with Yahoo’s advanced search and wasn’t too impressed until I saw a beta item at the very bottom of the advanced search. They have apparently partnered with sites like the Wall Street Journal and Lexis Nexis. This means that if you check those boxes Yahoo will return their content in your search. Unfortunately, the information it returns costs money. But it is a cool and I like that they are making an effort to organize some of that deep web information
September 16, 2007
I used my query [Health Benefits Organic Food] on the blog search site Technorati. After a quick scan of the results, I only saw one result that looked relevant: Is Organic Worth It? Soon after, I realized that I was searching the recent posts (there are tabs at the top of the page that allow you to search posts, blogs, videos, and photos). I directed my query to relevant blogs, and found the blog to the site Organic Authority. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find credible and cited information about the health benefits of eating organic food.
Even though, I didn’t find the information for which I was looking. I liked how Technorati reported the “authority” of every blog. The authority number that Technorati gives is the number of sites that link to a particular blog (note: the authority number is not the number of links to a blog). This allows you to check the popularity and possibly the credibility of a blog.
September 15, 2007
I decided to use Wikipedia to find some general information on my query [Health Benefits Organic Food]. Wikipedia returned a page that said “no pages exist with that name” and then offered alternative pages ranked by relevance to my query. The page Organic food had a 100% relevance, so I followed the link. On this page there was a table of contents that made it easy to navigate through the plethora of information about organic food.
In the table of contents was a link to Nutritional value. This section was exactly what I was looking for studies about the benefits (or lack of benefits) of eating organic food. If I was just researching for my personal knowledge I may just stop here and except this information as fact. However, if I was researching for a school or business related project I would check the sources of the information presented.
In some cases, Wikipedia makes checking the sources very easy. Some facts include citations, and the complete names of the original sources. In some cases, however, facts are missing citations (this makes me question the validity of the information).
In general, I would only use Wikipedia as a quick reference for general purpose (and usually only on non-controversial issues). If you are doing serious research, Wikipedia is a great place to start. You may gain a better general understanding of a topic, which will help you in future searches. You may even be able to follow the given citations to find more information.
September 14, 2007
From the very beginning I had the feeling that Scirus would return relevant and useful information on my query [Health Benefits Organic Food]. The site gave me this impression because the phrase “for scientific information only” is in the site’s title. The idea of a science only site is great when you are looking for a credible scientific source. When I say “credible scientific source,” I am referring to a source that is based on facts, research, and scientific procedure rather than opinions and beliefs. In my case, I would prefer to see credible research from doctors and scientists about the benefits (or lack of benefits) from eating organic food.
Indeed my query did return very relevant information. The first result was titled Does organic food bring added health benefits?—the exact question I am trying to answer. In general, it appears that Scirus searches through the databases of many other sites and returns the articles and other results in its query. My experience confirms my original intuition that Scirus is a great resource if you want results from scientific sources.
I also thought it was interesting to see a result from Don't Panic Eat Organic. If you remember, I found this site after using Yahoo Directory which proves that there is always more than one way to skin a cat.
September 13, 2007
I was not impressed by the search results returned by Yahoo Directory. My query [Health Benefits Organic Food] mostly returned websites that were selling organic food. None of the information was helpful for informing me about the health benefits of organic food. Moreover, I wouldn’t have considered any of the returned sites as credible.
In this situation Yahoo Directory was not an appropriate search tool—but when is it a good time to use it? To answer this question I consulted Tara Calishain’s “Web Search Garage.” Tara recommends using the Directory when you are trying to find new search engines. She also says that the Directory is good, “[i]f you can narrow your interest down to one or two categories.”
With this understanding, I tried browsing the directory. I started with Health and then went to Nutrition, but then couldn’t find any category that would include information on organic foods. So I tried searching for just the word [organic]. From here I found some sites that I could follow and then search for information (sites like: Organic Trade Association and Don’t Panic Eat Organic). I followed the link to “Don’t Panic Eat Organic” and entered my original query [Health Benefits Organic Food]. These results were far more relevant, and would not have appeared if I had just searched Google or Yahoo, because they were located in the deep web.
In conclusion, Yahoo Directory is not good for finding specific information. However, it is a great place to find relevant websites with databases you can search.
September 12, 2007
Google returned 2,130,000 results to my query [Health Benefits Organic Food]. After scrolling through the information, I found some sources that appeared to be credible NYT, .orgs, .edus, and .govs. In comparison to Yahoo Web, only two of the first ten results were the same.
I could have used most of the information on my original query. However, I wanted to reduce the volume of my results, so I added the words [research significant USDA –site:.com risk debate] to my query. The new query returned 357,000 results and interestingly enough the first result was from Wikipedia. The new results were more tailored to the actual information for which I was looking.
September 11, 2007
Web Search Resources
To compare the different web search resources we were asked to search for [timber industry California] at Google, Yahoo Directory, Yahoo Web, Scirus, Google Scholar, UM Library’s Search Tools, and CompletePlanet. Personally, I have no interest in the California timber industry, so I decided to change my search query to [Health Benefits Organic Food]. Also, in addition to the required search resources I also entered my query into Librarian’s Internet Index, Turbo10, BrightPlanet, SurfWax, FindArticles, Blogpulse, Bloglines search, Technorati, Google Blog Search, Blogdigger, Feedster, Blog catalog, RefDesk, and Wikipedia. Instead of lumping all my opinions in one big blog entry, I separated the information to make it easier to read the information in which you are interested.