You found your way to this entry! Take a moment to congratulate yourself, sit back, and think about how this whole Internet thing is not so bad after all. And what's the big deal? All human knowledge collected in millions of computers sharing... well, lots of knowledge per second. And you worked it out to find this page. Go you!
One question: How did you find this web page once you decided what you were looking for? Could you do it again? For any question? If I asked you to find out who created the Chauvin Sculpture Garden, could you do that? How do you know the source is reliable?
The answer is pretty easy if you just keep Internet searching simple. By using simple language and tools, you can find anything on the Internet you want and keep out most of the things you do not.
Search Simple Words and Phrases
The first step in keeping Internet searching simple is to cut out unneeded words. Computer scientists build new computers every day to understand more and more. Most computers, however, still cannot understand the language humans speak to each other, or natural language. Most computers use a form of "keyword searching," which means they search for the words you give them.
So to keep searching simple, you would search for the simple phrase "Chauvin Sculpture Garden." For most modern search engines, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization do not matter much, as in the example below.
When you use simple words and phrases, you give the search engine much more to work with, and you get more results to look through.
The Internet As a Town
If you want to simplify the Internet, think of it like a large town. Areas of town are zoned for schools, government buildings, shopping, and homes. To find the best information in a town, you go to the right building. The Internet is divided in the same way, and this can be used depending on what information you need.
When you need to learn accurate information, where do you go in your community? Schools and government departments exist to provide information and services for the community. The same thing happens on the Internet. Educational and government sites contain the best, accurate research resources. Links for education use ".edu" and government use ".gov”
Say you were writing a paper or wanted a researched source for the “Chauvin Scultpure Garden” saying who built it, who takes care of it now, and where it is. A search for "Chauvin Sculpture Garden" contains links from Nicholls State University (shown below in green) because they have researched the history of the sculpture garden and care for it.
The most common type of website is ".com." This means a website is "commercial,” the shopping center of the Internet. Many ".com" websites are great sources of information, but their goal is to make money. The information might be good or not, and there is no way to tell without more research. These websites are best for buying materials or finding basic information on a topic. For example, say I wanted to build a model of the “Chauvin Sculpture Garden” rather than have information on it. I would search for “sculpture supplies” to find business where I could buy my materials, either locally or online, or to learn how to start sculpting. For more indepth knowledge, I would go to a school that teaches sculpting.
Some other common website extensions are ".org" and ".net." Organizations (.org) often include non-profits and charities, but anyone can buy an “.org” website. Examples of good organization websites for information are the Red Cross and the Terrebonne Parish Library websites. Both are long lasting institutions known in the community. If you are not aware of who runs the website, it is often best to be wary of their information.
One of the largest ".org" websites is Wikipedia, a popular online encyclopedia edited and created by users. Be aware that Wikipedia's information can change often, even many times an hour depending on the subject. Many classrooms of all levels of education ban the use of Wikipedia because of how unreliable its information can be.
The ".net" extension was first used by networking companies, such as AT&T and Comcast, but has become a place for personal websites. Just like anyone can start a non-profit “.org,” anyone can use the “.net” to build a home on the Internet. As sources of information, treat “.net” sites as if you were visiting a neighbor. If you know the person well and trust them, they may be a good place for you to learn, but very few teachers would accept them as trustworthy research.
More Ways to Filter Media
Often when searching, you can simplify a search by filtering out much of the internet. A current event? An image? A video? Search engines filter information into news, images, videos and more. Google, Bing, and Yahoo each have different buttons to search the Internet for other media. Clicking the buttons for images, video, or news while searching can narrow down what type of information you need.
English journalist Miles Kington said, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” The advice above can start you on the way to finding better information and resources. The best information for you, however, depends on your desire to find it. The Internet is a big place and full of wonderful things, much like the world around you. Trial and error may be needed. With practice, anyone can learn the best places to go for the information they need. Good searching!
Other links from the blog that can help with searching:
Most popular American search engines