Modern search literacy: Leveraging literacies to get the most from popular tools

Uploaded by GoogleVideos on 02.05.2012


DANIEL M. RUSSELL: Today, the goal of our webinar this
morning is to talk about what it means to be
an effective searcher.
And I'm going to cast this in the framework of what it means
to be literate at search.
And let me tell you a story to get started.
So I was doing a field study a couple of years ago.
And I was watching a woman down in Los Angeles searching
through, through the California Vehicle Code,
looking for the vehicle code about
emission control equipment.
So she basically did this kind of thing,
California vehicle code.
And she found it right there, the table of contents.
And then she went, what do I do now?
I need something about emission control.
So I'm going click on letter "E." And now, I'm going to
start looking for emission control.
Now, you can see this kind of goes on and on and on and on
and on and on.
And as I was sitting there watching her look through
this, I was wondering why she wasn't using the
obvious quick search.
Why she wasn't using the Command-F control like that,
to say "emission." And you can see, oh, it's actually called
pollution control.
Oh, no wonder we couldn't figure it out.
So now you can come down here.
And you can use Command-F in order to search through the
content of the web page.
Now, I assume that you and all search
literate people know this.
But the thing that really surprises me is that 90% of
the English-speaking US, internet using, searching
population, and this includes your students, 90% of them do
not know how to do that simple Command-F, or on a PC, how to
do a Control-F.
Now, you might have read about this in The Atlantic or The
New York Times or something.
And this is a piece of data that we uncovered a while ago.
It's crucial.
It's crucial for understanding how our students, how we as
internet searchers, have skills or don't have skills.
I would argue this is a really fundamental thing that you
need to be able to know how to do.
If you don't know how to do that, you're sort of
effectively not as efficient a searcher as you could be.
So what I mean by search literacy, search literacy is a
combination of background knowledge and skills.
This is the basics, how to drive, how to get things to
work, how do you read the page.
It's also a combination of knowing what's available.
What kind of stuff is out there?
What kinds of things can you search for?
Then you have to know what's possible.
So in addition to knowing what's out there, what kinds
of things can you do with that?
How can you possibly index and search and find
that sort of thing?

There's also the category of knowing search tactics, that
is in the sort of microscopic scale, how do you get to a
particular goal?
So we'll talk about that.
We'll give you a bunch of examples.
And we'll talk about search strategies, these sort of, how
tactics get combined together in order to form a larger,
longer term organization of search.

Lastly, we'll talk a little bit about evaluation.
And this leads into a webinar in a couple weeks where we'll
be talking about how people look at credibility and
authority in order to understand exactly what's
going on. on.
And I see a question from the audience here.
Is there any difference between Control-F in Firefox?
That's a good question.
The Control-F character is used in all PCs.
And Command-F is used in all Macs.
It's basically the same idea.
It's just, Apple does Apple things.
Then there's the difference between browsers.
And Firefox behavior is slightly different than
Internet Explorer, and slightly different than
Chrome, and certainly different than Opera.
But the point is being able to use the Control-F Find
function within a web page is a really critical thing that
you have to know how to do.
So fundamentally, there's no difference.
Superficially, they look slightly different.

Now, you remember these days, right?
Back in the days when we all had access to the Reader's
Guide to Periodical Literature.
You would go to the library and if you wanted to look up
something in the magazine space, you would actually go
and find yourself to the right volume, pull it out, turn to
the right page, page 168, as we see here.
And we found the article we were looking for, "Taking on
the NCAA, We Can Change the World," this very first one
right here, by J. Nathan, in some obscure publication.
Now, of course today we could do the following kind of
thing, which is I would do, I would say, "taking on the
ncaa," and I discover that, wow, look at this.
In Amazon, they actually are e-publishing that
article as a mini-book.
It's only 2,100 words.
But you know what going to happen.
If we click on that, we'll see that we can actually go and
download it.
But it's $5.95.
That's not what I want to do.
So now I can go on.
I can see this article is referenced.
We can actually see it down here in the Chicago Tribune.
If you keep looking through this, you can find multiple
copies of this article.
It's being linked to from many different places.
The Chicago Tribune, it's being referred to in Questia,
it's also in the Kappan Magazine,
et cetera, et cetera.
You can't do that with the Periodical Guide.
It's just impossible.
We can see all the post-references to that.
And see exactly where all this stuff is taking us.
There we go.

So one of the things I like have our students understand
is that the world is really shifting in interesting and
fundamental ways.
That was then.
This is now.
So let's talk about what background
knowledge you need to know.
Because if you don't know the language, you can't sort of
function in the culture.
So we all know words like this, website, what a browser
is, what a query is.
But then, one of the things that's interesting is people
use words like URL.
And you don't really quite know what it means or what the
different pieces of it are.
So for example, what's the top-level domain?
That's the thing on the far right-hand side.
And you need to understand that in order to understand
later on how we're going to use the tactic of restricting
your search to a particular domain, or a particular
country, or a particular kind of website.
So you need to understand these things in a little bit
more detail than I think most people clearly--
most people commonly have in their sort of day-to-day use.
Then on very end there, there's this
thing called a plugin.
You might know it as an add-on or extension.
It's basically another piece of code that plugs into your
browser and allows you to do various kinds of
media things typically.
Usually like QuickTime, or Flash or SVGs for scalable
vector graphics.
These are additional pieces of code that you have to add on
to your browser in order to be able to get to all those
extra, interesting kinds of technologies that we
all know and love.
Now, when we're thinking about background knowledge for the
web, I assumed that everybody has this in their head.
But in our studies, we discovered that that's not
really true.
Students oftentimes don't understand the difference
between the visible web and the deep web.
And this is the kind of stuff you need
in order to be literate.
If you don't know this, you don't understand the basics of
how search works.
So I drew this diagram to give you a little sense that we
have. Within the oval, we have a website.
So these blue boxes are pages.
And they're linked together by hyperlinks or these links that
go from a place in a document to another
place in another document.
And that's within the website.
And then you have links that go outside the website.
You have other websites, as you see in red.
But look at those boxes up in the upper right, in green.
They're not connected to anything.
What's the story?
Well, the story is, those are web pages that are not linked
into the World Wide Web.
They're isolates.
They basically stand on their own.
We can't find them.
Google can't index them.
You can't get there from here.
So what that means is if there are, for example, content
that's behind a pay-wall that the Google robot can't crawl
over or you bring up a website that's not connected to
anything else, it's invisible.
We just can't see it.
Therefore, you can't find it.
A common conceit you'll hear among students, in particular,
is well, everything is on Google, Let be the first to
tell you, everything is not on Google.
In particular, all the green boxes, and many of the red
boxes that behind, for example, robot.txt of a file
that says, you can't crawl my content, we can't see that.
Therefore, you can't find it.
A really great example of this is the Bureau of Labor
You see that URL on the bottom.
That little funny URL,, actually holds a
wealth of content, a wealth of fantastic data.
Datasets you can crawl through and look at.
But what's interesting it is that you can't
actually search that.
We can only search the metadata pages that describe
each of those datasets.
That's what Google could do for you, is take you to a
header page for that and then allow you to run the query
that allows you to look for and access the
content of that dataset.
And is that clear?
What we're trying to do is get people to the understanding
that there's content that crawlable and
content that's not.
And it varies from place to place and policy to policy.

So now, typically if you ask students well,
what's a search engine?
We all know about Google.
We all know about Yahoo.
And we all know about Bing.
But there are a lot of other ones, too.
For example, in other countries, there is Baidu in
in China, or Naver in Korea, and Yandex in
Russia, and so on.
There are also a couple of other search engines like
Dogpile, or Wolfram Alpha, or DuckDuckGo, and so on.
They all have particular strengths.
But they all have this sort of common characteristic that
they crawl some kind of content on the web.
And they find stuff.
And then you use their interface to access that.
They are limited to what they can crawl.
And not all search engines crawl all content.
So in particular, Yandex indexes content in Russia
really, really well.
And they sort of crawl the rest of the web.
But they don't necessarily get around to all the content and
all the other places to the extent that Google does.
So each of these has a particular strength.
They have weaknesses.
Part of being literate is knowing what these things can
do and what their weaknesses are and what
their strengths are.
If you have a question by the way, just be
feel free to use Chat.
And I'm watching the sidebar here.
And Tasha and I will try to answer your question.
So let's go back to this idea about what
it means to be literate.
A literate reader of a search page knows the
rhetoric of that page.
In the same way that we know say the rhetoric of Victorian
English literature or we know the rhetoric of postmodern
apocalyptic literature, we understand that there's a
particular structure for things like search pages.
And that's what you're seeing here.
So if you look on the very top, there's this address bar,
or in the Chrome browser called the Omnibox.
You can type in a URL or a query there.
You could also use the regular old Google query box to type
in a query.
And you can see that we offer a list of
suggestions below that.
Now interestingly enough, this kind of rhetorical structure,
this kind of ordinary layout where suggestions pop below
the query box is a pattern that Google established a
while ago and is being now picked up by lots of other
search providers.
So this is a kind of common idiom, a kind of common trope
you'll see throughout all of the search engines.
A lot of the search engines also provide content on the
left-hand side.
These are usually filters and tools that allow you to modify
the behavior of search.
And collectively, it's all on the left-hand side.
Now, I want to make a distinction between the search
engine and the browser.
The browser is a tool you use to access search or any
content on the web.
So let's talk about the Omnibox on the upper left.
The green lock indicates that this is actually a secure
So, for example, your passwords and content and your
searches can't be picked up by some random person sitting in
a coffee shop in some place in the former Soviet Union.
But what you can do is you can type your query there or type
a URL there.
Then just below that, you see in the browser of Chrome, you
have a list of bookmarks.
And then below that in the black, you have the top bar of
the Google search page.
So when you switch from black to gray right there, you're
switching from the browser--
that is the container, the application
that's running this--
to the Google web page, which is a black, and everything
below that.
On the far right-hand side, you can see then there are two
different sets of options.
The Chrome option, which is trying to modify--
Let me switch back there.
There we go.
--which is modifying options having to do with the browser.
And then below that with the gear icon, you get options
that are affecting the way you're doing search.
That's why we have two different layers of option
settings right there.
So you have to understand how the tool works.
If you want to be a literate mechanic, you've got to know
how a socket set works.
If you want to be a literate reader of Victorian
literature, you have to understand the
conventions of the time.
These are the conventions of our time.
Now, if you look at a search results page, which is what
you get back by doing a search, they also have a
rhetorical layout.
So in the center, the center block here, we have at the
very top, with a bright yellow background, sort of a
butterish yellow background, we have what we call top ads.
This is how Google makes most of its money frankly, is by
people clicking on these ads.
We go to a lot of trouble to make sure these are separated
from, clearly distinguished from, the organic search
results, which is everything below that.
Below the yellow box are the organic search results.
So here, we have ads on the top and ads on
the right-hand side.
You see this below, this little map here.
This map is not an ad.
What it is actually doing is showing you the local results
based on a map.
You'll see the places down here in the
organic search results.
These aren't ads.
These are actually the ones that are most appropriate for
the query "jewelry," given that you're located in
Knoxville, Tennessee.
So we can distinguish very carefully between ads in
yellow or ads labeled on the right-hand side, and organic
results, like the map's compendium of the places that
show up in the organic results.

So that's the background knowledge you need to know.
This is sort of what's fundamental.
Now, I'm going to talk in each of these little sections, give
you a little bit of amplification about each of
these topics here, within the notion of search literacy.
So let's start with skills.
This is the basics.
This is what you need to know in order to be
an effective searcher.
Here's the first skill.
You need to know how to read a result.
Now, results, as you saw in one of those previous slides,
like right here, always come in a stereotypic fashion.
So let's actually unpack that a little bit
and see what's there.
At the very top is a title from the web page.
The title actually comes from the author of the page.
So when you create the page, you give it a title.
But for example, if we discovered five pages that
have all exactly the same title, Google will modify the
titles slightly to reflect more distinctly what
that page is from.
So you can use that to understand what the whole page
is going to be about.
And then right below it, in green, we have the URL.
Below that, in black, the black text there, is a
snippet, which is a automatically generated
summary of that page.
So what happens is that summary is generated based on
what your query is.
In this case, the query was "apricot." So the snippet is
generated to answer that question, as extracted from
the text of that page.
Below that, you see a set of other links, description here,
cultivation and uses, etymology, and so on.
These are shortcuts to places within this page.
This basically are deep links within the structure of that
page that basically you can think of it as a shortcut.
So you want to get to the etymology of the word
"apricot," click on the blue link that says "etymology." So
that's one single result.
Now, the good news is most everybody else does this, too.
Yahoo and Microsoft, we all follow kind of the same
rhetorical style.
We all have a green URL.
We've all got a blue title with a link to the page and a
black summary.
You can see the summaries are generated slightly
So choose which one you like.
Now, part of the skill of being a literate searcher is
knowing how to read the search page.
One of the things we've seen that really good searchers do,
this is from our observations, is that they know how to look
for terms they don't know.
I call this anti-reading.
Some people call it word spotting.
The idea is when you're looking for say, what's the
idea behind a small, sculptural model used as a
prototype, you might look for words that you don't
recognize, like this word "maquette."
So here in this case, this is a kind of word where I don't
know what it is.
So I'm thinking maybe this is actually the
solution to my problem.
I'm trying to understand what to call such a thing.
So "maquette" actually, ah, let's check that out.
What you can do--
actually let's go back here.

What I can do is I say "maquette," I can do the query
for maquette, like that.
But what I really want to do in this case, is
that's pretty good.
It says it a French word for a scale model.
I can also do "define maquette."
This is a kind of information literacy, a search literacy,
where I can use the Define operation to actually get to
the Google definition, which is drawn from a dictionary.
It's also drawn from words that we have
crawled from the web.
We see it being used in a definitional way.
And we've summarized those here.
And so you see fantastic definitions for words that you
otherwise might not know about, including words there
are not in any dictionary, like say "pwned."
Here we actually extract this word definition
from the web uses.
And that's what you're getting right here.
That make sense?
Let me go back Home there.
So that's the skill of anti-reading, that is looking
through the web pages, looking for things you don't know,
following down that path a little bit.
Another kind of skill is the skill of knowing how to read
the snippet.
So if we, just for example, do a query like this one, Palo
Alto recycled milk cartons.
The question here is, does Palo Alto allow you to recycle
milk cartons?
Yes or no?
It should be easy.
It should be simple.
But I gave this question to 250 different Googlers and
asked them that question.
Half said yes and half said no.
And here's why.
If you actually look at the second result in the results
list, it's this one right here,
PSSI-Stanford Recycling Center.

As you see, on the right-hand side, it says blah, blah,
blah, the Palo Alto Recycling Center no longer accepts
Styrofoam, dot, dot, dot, and juice and milk cartons and soy
milk containers.
Now, you might think that suggests that the Palo Alto
Recycling Center does not accept milk cartons for
recycling purposes.
But you would be wrong.
In this case, the ellipsis is hiding information,
unintentional I assure you.
But it's hiding information that's really
important to you.
The distinction is that when people write an ellipsis, when
they write that three little dots, the convention between
the writer and the reader is that the writer is not hiding
important information.
But because the snippets are generated algorithmically,
without deep linguistic understanding,
we can't make assurance.
What we're doing is trying to find fragments of text in the
page that contains the words of the query, in this case,
milk carton and Palo Alto Recycling.
So what we've done is adjoined two potentially different
interpretations, in trying to maximize your ability to
recognize if you should click on that landing page.
Answer, yes.
You should click on the this landing page because Palo Alto
Recycling Center actually does accept milk cartons.
So the moral of that story, you gotta click through,
particularly when there's potentially salient
information hidden beneath an ellipsis.
So in addition to the tactical things and the mechanical
things, there's also the skills of producing and
maintaining your attention.
Now, you and I both know distraction is wonderful.
Serendipity is a fantastic thing.
But we need to teach students the ability to focus.
When students go into a library, the library is also a
marvelous place, with a million distractors in it.
You have to learn how to stay on task.
The same thing's true on the web.
Except here, we've got animation.
We've glitzy things.
And potentially all manner of things that would just take
you off task.
When you're working with students, this is one thing
you have to emphasize, is how to do that.
Another kind of executive control, a self-monitoring
task, is monitoring the number of tasks that you're pursuing
at any one time.
The problem you see with a lot of kids, and particularly
between say grades 8 through 12, is that they'll pursue too
many tasks simultaneously.
And they'll drop a task.
So in the process of trying to do multitasking, if the number
of tasks gets above three or four, then task number one
just gets forgotten about.
And if it was writing that paper on Hume, then
you know, I'm sorry.
We just didn't get around to it.
So this is an important meta-cognitive skill,
meta-attentional skill that we need to
impart to our students.
Now part of the way of doing this is
to provide a framework.
Teach the skills of note-taking.
Now, I do those sort of pathologically.
So I'm an extreme case.
But for I think people who are just trying to do regular
research, one of things you want to do is as you're
working through, is take the time to make notes about your
primary search task.
What I do, you can see in the lower right, is a fragment of
my notebook, which I keep online.
I keep it.
And I've got it now for many, many years going back.
And I do this diligently every day.
The reason this is really important in the context of
search is I can go back and discover what I was thinking
about, what my task was.
And I can go back for years.
Mostly, it's useful in the past month or two.
So it would go back to something I was working on and
how I did that search before.
Because trust me, you are probably not going to be able
to remember how you did that.
So I'm able to very simply use my notebook to
go back and do that.
The other great advantage of a notebook for attention
monitoring is to be able to take notes along the way.
That is, as you do stuff, as you're doing your research,
you may very easily find all kinds of stuff that was really
interesting and you should follow up on.
Take a note.
Get it in your notebook.
Get back on task.
One thing that's important, I can tell you probably four or
five different mechanisms for taking notes.
Personally, I use Google Docs.
I've got that.
I can now search over all my Google Docs for the past
several years.
It works really well for me.
A lot of people use the sending
themselves the email mechanism.
Other people use say Microsoft Word to take their notes or
some other mechanism.
But I think the world has moved beyond
simple paper notebooks.
I've still got a stack of paper notebooks in my garage.
But the advantage of personal notebooks online is that you
can search across all of your notebooks.
That's an important thing to be able to do.
The importance of having it being a comfortable,
light-weight, note taking mechanism for you is it allows
you to avoid distractions.
You see something interesting, you note it, you handle it,
you get it out of your main task.
You return to your primary search problem.
Now, we all used to use bookmarks once upon a time.
Some people still do.
Some people have much more discipline than I do.
What we see from our observations is that people
tend to over make bookmarks.
And it tends to, in the very limited mechanism up on top of
the browser, they tend to get gummed up.
And unless you delete them diligently, they don't
function very much.
People fill them up and then sort of stop using it.
That doesn't work anymore.
Second big point to remember, don't assume that just because
you were able to find something once, that you'll be
able to re-find it.
Why is this important?
Because the web constantly changes.
The web is getting a massive amount of new content every
single day.
And the search path that you followed the last time may or
may not work for you this time.
So one of the things you might want to be able to do is
either write down the URL for something you found that you
really like or, and I actually prefer this, is copying the
relevant content.
One of the things I do a lot is I will copy fragments of a
web page out, put it in my notebook, and put the link to
that original page in with the note, so I can remember where
I got it from.
In cases where, if that's dynamic content,
I will take a picture.
I will take a snapshot.
On a Mac, it's a Command, Shift 3 or Shift 4.
On a PC, it's a use Print Screen trick.
But I will take a picture of it and put that in my
notebook, as well.
The third thing to remember here, remember that you can
search your web history.
You can both search the browser history and you, if
you have web search history turned on, you can go back
until the dawn of time and discover the searches that
you've run previously.

So let's move on to browser facility.
So one of the skills of using a browser is the ability to
understand and know how to use tabs.
Now, the good news is, this is the kind of thing that people
tend pass around from person to person.
But what I wanted to show you here is, let's go to Chrome
here real quick.

And I'll do a search for say, "the Temple of Nike." And I've
got these fantastic things here.
And so what I want to do is open--
I'm holding down Control key and opening that
link in a new tab.
I can now come down here and open that link in a new tab.
And see, I haven't left my original search page.
I'm opening all three of these.
Oops, that was my mistake, actually.
I accidentally let up on the Control key.
So what I'm going to do is go back here.
And we can see we've actually got these tabs here.
And now I can very quickly go back and compare between tabs
and my original search results.
This is really handy when you're trying to do
side-by-side comparisons of different versions of content.
Because we all know in doing deep research, you often want
to triangulate between multiple perspectives on a
single topic.
This is a nice, simple way to do that within the browser.
Again, I wanted to remind you, if you've got any questions,
feel free to reach us through Chat.
Maybe I'll take somebody here.
Let me check real quick.
How do you take a picture of a web page?
I see that.
So I'll show you here on the Macintosh.
What I recommend is, for the PC, if you just go do a search
for screen capture.
I actually use an application, you can buy these for like
$15, that gives you a bunch of capabilities.
But on the Mac, I'll show you how to do it.
You do Command Shift 4.
And see how the cursor changes there?
So what I can do now is sweep out this region.
And what that will do is create a file on the desktop
called Picture.
That's how you would do that.
Again, for PCs, your mileage may differ.
But basically, you can look up their keyboard shortcuts, but
doing something similar involving the Print Screen
keyboard in the upper right-hand side.

The cross-hairs don't show in the webinar.
Sorry about that.
That's a property of the way the operating system works.
Not much I can do about it.
So try it out on your own Mac.

So let's turn now, finally, to actually thinking about how
you organize a search.
The first thing to be thinking about is what is it you're
looking for.
Now, that seems obvious and straightforward.
but one of the things we see in poor searchers is not
choosing particularly appropriate on-topic words.
An exercise that some people use is to, for example, write
out a single sentence, what is it you're looking for, and
then highlight the key terms from that.
And not actually include all the other words.
So for example, if you're trying to do a search for how
jaguars run in the jungle, you might want to include the word
"jaguar" and "jungle."
But you may not want to include the word "jungle
trail," because that would over-specialize the search
you're doing.
You may not want to include the word "lope" or "gait,"
because again that would take you down a particular
biomechanical path.
And you're looking for something else.
That seems straightforward.
But it's a skill.
And it's one of these things we actually work on in our
seminars when we're teaching.
We also want to think about how would somebody else talk
about it or how would they write about it?
What words would they use?
Because when you make the query, the query is really
asking for words that someone else would have written on
this topic.
So one way to think about this, it's not about you.
It's about them.
It's really about how someone else would write about this
particular idea.
Which of those terms would you want to see in your results?
What's the perfect result?
Think about that.
Tasha has talked earlier about what it means to be predictive
in your search.
Use that as a way of guiding the way you choose your search
Now, another factor to consider, number four here, is
which of those terms would be very specialized to a
particular topic.
Specialized words are really great.
But oftentimes we'll see people misusing them.
They'll use a word that they think is
specialized to a topic.
But it's really not.
It's slightly off topic, at which point
they're in deep yogurt.
Because what happens is that they think they're using a
word like, let's say we're trying to do a search for how
to treat a broken arm.
And they use the word like "fractionated." Now, they say
that means fractured.
But they got a different word.
They misunderstand the word that's specialized.
You want to be able to try to think of specialized, but you
want to be sure you're choosing the right word.
The last thing to think about, what's the perfect result?
Visualize the perfect result for you.
What would make you happy?
Is it a particular single web page that gives me the answer?
Or is it a collection of web pages, each with a different
perspective on a topic that I'm trying to research?
If I'm doing say a political analysis of the Euro crisis, I
probably want to see papers from say, Greece, as opposed
to papers with articles from Germany, as opposed to papers
from the UK, because they're all going to have very
different kinds of responses.
So think about what words are common, what words are
specialized, what's going to be on the page, and what my
perfect result would be.
So one of the things that Google has that's really
interesting is this thing that's called instant search.
Now, a lot of people find it annoying.
But I find really interesting for the following reason.
If for example, I'm trying to do a search for a book about
oranges by some Scottish writer, and I don't
remember his name.
What I can do is say "oranges." And there's two
things to notice here.
First, I'm getting suggestions as I type that word.
That's the stuff in the black box.
That's what you're seeing here, oranges, oranges and
sunshine, OrangeScape, and so on.
These are suggestions that Google does based on the
queries that other people make.
The second thing you're seeing is that the results have
already shown up here before I've actually finished typing.
So let me go back.
And I'll do that again.
Now, watch carefully.
Orang, O-R-A-N-G. And see the results have shown up.
I haven't typed the E yet.
This is instant search.
Now, why this is Great So I say oranges, book.
And I can see, both in the suggestion list right here,
John McPhee, that's a Scottish name.
And I can see the very first organic result here is this
Amazon book, pointing to the book Oranges, by John McPhee.
So without actually hitting Enter or even finishing the
thought, I've actually found the result.
Now, a concern people might have is doesn't this push
people down a particular path?
And we were worried about this too.
So when we were originally testing this years ago, well,
two years ago, we actually measured the degree to which
people followed the suggestion list versus followed their own
area of interest. And we found, actually a little to
bit to our surprise, that people persisted in doing
exactly what they wanted to do.
This could be seen as a failure of suggests.
But I think it's actually a success of people.
What it means is that they're not being overly swayed by the
suggestions they see.
But when they do a suggestion, it actually was an accurate
prediction of what they wanted.
So it's a net benefit.
And it turns out to not give people tunnel vision, which
was the thing I was worried about.
So the cool thing about Instant, is it allows you to
very quickly explore a space.
That's a great thing about how this works.
Now, I know John McPhee is not Scottish.
It's a Scottish name.
Thank you.
In response to the question.

Actually, it's an interesting point.
Because I knew that about the name.
And I was counting on visual recognition to hand that
answer to me very quickly.
So I don't know how to search for a Scottish name, in
searching for a book's author.
Now, let's illustrate this as a skill of doing
smart keyword choice.
One of the problems we give in our seminars is a
question like this.
We'll ask, what is that thing, that corner of your eye
called, where the upper and lower eyelids meet?
How would you search for that.
Think about that for a second.
What would you do?
So there are a couple different approaches.
But one thing you probably don't want to do is choose the
word "lacrimal gland." Yes, I know that's where a
lacrimal gland is.
But it's not going to give you the definition of the corner
of the eyelids.
It's too specialized.
So I would go with something simple and obvious.
For example, this search, "corner of the eye." So if I
did something like that, it's going to be a very
straightforward, very short search.
And if it's not right, you can always change it.
But when I click on the first result for this query, it
takes me to this very nice Wikipedia article for a term I
did not recognize, medial canthus.
So let's check this out.
What's the medial canthus?
Remember how to do this, define?

There we go.
Define medial canthus.

And we have a very nice definition for it.
Just to check, could somebody tell me if they
could still hear me?
We thought we heard a funny noise over our voice channel.
Can you still hear me?

OK, great.
Thank you.
So now you see what I did is I used a very simple search.
I then checked it.
This is a fundamental search skill.
Never trust a single result.
Never trust a single result.
So let's go on to another version of a search skill.
Another problem we give is that a friend told me there's
a basketball team.
They were Chinese American men that played for money in the
United States.
What's the name of that team?
Now, you can go off and solve that problem if you like.
you like.
And it takes most people several minutes to solve it.
But I'll give you the shortcut here.
The short answer is one of the key ideas about being search
literate is knowing how and when to use synonyms. We have
a fantastic synonym system in Google.
But we can't synonymize absolutely everything.
So in this case what you have to do is a query like "Chinese
American professional basketball team," where the
word "professional" is a synonym for "plays for money."
And you will very quickly, once you do that query, find
out the Hong Wah Kues were a San Francisco playing team
that started in the '30s.
From San Francisco, they played all
over the United States.
A fantastic story.
Key insight, you need to know how to choose your synonyms.
Here's another kind of problem we give.
We'll ask about, what's this particular wildflower?
In this case, I tell the students that it is was in
Henry Coe State Park.
And I'm asking for what's the Latin name.
Here's the close-up of the image.
Now, recognize that the only way you're going to find this
flower is if you do an image search.
So how can you possibly do this?
Well, you could do a search like this one up here "Blue
wildfires, Henry Coe." Or you could add in a context term,
like a context search term, like this word "album" or
"image collection." Because what we like to find is a
collection of flowers so we can look through that.
We added the search term "Henry Coe" in there in order
to geo-locate the query.
Because there are an infinite number of
blue wildflowers worldwide.
And this tells Google, we really want northern
California, Bay Area wildflowers.
The answer is pretty
straightforward, Triteleia laxa.
You need to know how to frame your query to get the kind of
result you want.
In this case, the album.
So let's go on to number two here.
We talked a little bit about skills.
That's sort of like five or six of the
fundamentals you need.
Another piece of information you need to
know is what's available.
Well, what's out there on the web.
And don't tell me everything.
That's not a helpful answer.
It's not true, to begin with.
But in particular, there's an interesting problem that we
have. Which is we do have a lot of stuff.
And it's over the place.
We have a 3D warehouse, for example, with
three-dimensional models of things.
We have web pages, news streams, news archives, maps,
magazines, and scholarly papers.
It goes on and on.
So how do you know as a searcher
what's possible to find?
This becomes particularly interesting when you start
thinking about products that we have, like Google Earth, or
Google Books, or Google Public Data Explorer.
Because those have their own huge data sets within them.
So in Earth, for example, you can find locations.
You just type in the name, let's say the Taj Mahal.
And it will fly you to that location.
Or you can look for publication metadata from the
books repository.
And in Public Data Explorer, you want consumer price
indexes for the past 20 years, go find it there.
The dataset.
But you as a searcher need to know what kinds of content and
what kinds of content types are available to find.
So an example of this is do you know what's in Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is a subset of the net.
But do you know there's an article about heavy metals
umlauts, like you see this one here.
And you can see, if you go back to the revision history,
how this article evolved over time.
What's interesting about this is I never thought there would
be an article about heavy metal umlauts at all.
But Wikipedia, a fantastic reservoir of unexpected
things, shows me that it's not only an interesting topic, but
fascinating in there.
If you want to see more about this, I recommend Jon Udell's
screencast on this, the heavy metal umlaut discussion.
My point, if you don't know what's in Wikipedia, you
probably don't know what's in the rest of the web.
So one of our problems here is knowing
what's possible to find.
Let me give you another example.
I know some of you know about Wolfram Alpha, which is
another search engine from the Wolfram Company, the same
people that make Mathematica.
Now, one of the real strengths of Wolfram Alpha is it has a
fantastic science and technology and education and
math collection of stuff they do.
For example, you can type in an expression like this, which
then now gives you graphs, fantastic graphs and
solutions for that.
They also have these very nice repositories of musical data.
And you can even do data fitting, curve fitting, in
this case a quadratic curve, regression curve, that fits
this dataset.
So if you're a student and you don't know about
this, you're damaged.
You're hindered.
You are not in touch with the range of possibilities.
This becomes a very nice way to accelerate your learning of
statistics, regression modeling, and the wealth of
things that are possible in the mathematics world.
Bing, our friends up in Washington, have an academic
search, which is kind of a correlate
to our Google Scholar.
They have a fantastic ability to, for example, plot an
individual's publications over time, the number of
recitations, their g-index, and all that sort of thing.
My point here is that you need to know what's out there in
order to think about looking for it.
So one of the things you can do here is to see everybody
I've ever published papers with.
You can see my co-citation frequency and who those people
are and walk down the graph of authors.
Another really beautiful feature that you may not know
about is that Google has this ability to
search other languages.
So in this case, we have the ability to--
well, let me show you how to do this.
I'm going to go to Chrome.

Oh, OK.
So somebody reported they lost audio.
Can anybody else hear me?
Or has everybody lost my audio?

So what I want to do is do a search like this, "Nike
Temple." And what I want to do is, for example, search under
more search tools here.
And you go down.
You'll see translated foreign pages.

Translated foreign pages-- and now it's searching for these
different languages.
But what I really wanted was Greek.
I didn't want German.
I didn't want Italian.
I didn't want Spanish.
I didn't want French.
But I do want, in this case, Greek.
And now I've got results in Greek and nothing but Greek.
And now if I click through those, you can actually go to
the original page or to the translated version.
Again, my point, if you don't know this kind of content
exists, you're sort of in trouble.
So this is knowing what's possible.

Let me check to see what happened here.

We got to fast-forward through this.
We've got a bunch of stuff here.
And what I'm trying to get to is, we've got through heavy
metal umlauts, the world from Bing, all these different
kinds of things.
And knowing what's possible, you have to understand that
all of it's searchable.
So we can do questions like this.
These are the kinds of questions you could ask.
What's the possible space?
You can ask questions about a population or specific
questions about the altitude of particular things or
conversions from one measure into another measure.
You could ask even questions about the air
speed of unladen swallows.
Monty Python fans will appreciate that.
But the interesting question is knowing what the range of
permissible, possible, reasonable questions are.
Asking a question like this, you'll probably spend a lot of
time looking through stuff that may or may not
be useful to you.
That sort of an undefined question in Google space.
Now, could you ask a question like this?
You're going to find lots of pictures of me.
Here's another version of that.
Could you find my mother's maiden name?
So see what I'm trying to get to.
Can you find a picture of Melville Dewey?
The author of the Dewey Decimal System.
How about a picture of Melville Dewey
hitting a home run?
Probably not.
But now you're starting to skirt on how you understand
the space of possibilities in the web.
If you know enough about Melville Dewey, you know that
he ran a Florida resort for a while.
So there's probably a picture of him doing that.
But I have fairly deep knowledge from the domain
here, that's guiding the space of what I can do.
For students who are learning to research, they don't have a
deep model of these domains.
And so they don't know what's possible.
Now, some of the things that are possible, you would think
are possible, but in fact turn out to be relatively
difficult, like searching for special characters.
You can't search for the paragraph symbol, the pound
symbol, the Euro symbol, the copyright
symbol, the add sign.
We don't allow that.
You can search for strings that contain the sharp sign,
like C sharp or a hash tag.
In general, we just delete those kinds of things.
And we also will handle dollar signs in connection with
numbers, correctly.
But otherwise, special characters are unsearchable.
Now, one of the things that literate searchers have to
understand is that we live in a fluid world where what's
possible to do with search is changing moment by moment.
So for example, you've probably seen Google Goggles.
Here's an example.
I go to Stanford.
I pull out my phone.
I take a picture of the Google, of the Google, of the
Hoover Tower, there on campus.
It analyzes the picture for a while.
And about five seconds later, it gives me the web page.
This is querying the real world through images.
There are tools out there, like this one from Brian
Googan, that allow you to recognize live performance of
certain kinds of music.
In this case, Irish session music.
And you know about things like Shazam.
And you know about being able to talk to your phone and ask
for questions.
It will speak to you and give you the answer.
There's also tools like Siri out there that allow you to
ask questions and get more complex answers.
You also have to know that with tools like Google Public
Data Explorer, you can look at datasets and do
analysis like this.
So there's two parts to this.
What is out there to be able to be found,
like these data sets.
And what you can then do with that data, what you can do
with the information.
In this case, we look at the unemployment rate.
In this case, we see Santa Clara County.
And we can overlay that with another county in California.
In fact, you can do this with all the
counties in all the states.
But I'm showing you here that you need to understand what's
possible to do in the context of the web.
Here's another kind of example of that.
A student comes and says, I want to do an analysis of the
different meteorological patterns in
two different locations.
How can I do that?
There is no web page that answers that.
But with only a few steps, your student can understand
how to find that data and transform it.
So here, I've found the data.
In this case, from Wunderground.
I pulled out the data.
I pulled it into a CSV format.
And I was able to plot it very simply.
Another kind of thing you can do with Google Maps is
actually measure distances.
In this case, I'm actually looking at a, this is a trail.
And I've measured it.
You can see it's--
where is it--
three miles.
And this is actually computed automatically
by the mapping program.
Again, you have to know that's there before you can think it.
Here's a meta-question for you.
This is really about what's possible to do with
content on the web.
I'm telling you that there are these tools.
How would you know that such a tool exists.
For example, Google Maps has a tool, a fairly simple
extension, that allows you to get the GPS coordinates for
any location that you can drive the map to.
I'll tell you the answer.
For augmentations like that, remember the concept of
plug-in we talked about earlier.
You're going to search for an extension to Google Maps.
And that search bar is available
through Google Maps itself.
And it will allow you to find extensions to the map.
For example, this one.
More generally, part of search literacy is understanding that
you can search for tools in addition to simple data.

What this means is that you can search for and use data in
different formats you might not have thought about.
So you could example take that lat, long you got from that
tool or from your favorite GPS application and actually that
into Google Maps.
And it will take you to that location.
In this case, in the middle of Saudi Arabia.
And that's the graph that is out of place for the Seattle
versus Palo Alto map.
The point there was, I was able to do this transformation
very, very quickly, in just a matter of minutes.
Making what was previously an impossible task, into a
trivial task.
So we're here at--
I see about halfway through my client.
And I've got eight minutes left.
So what I'm going to do is go through
this relatively quickly.
And then wrap up with a kind of summary about where we're
going to be going in the next few weeks.
So part of literacy is understanding both the
strategy and tactics.
Now by tactics, I mean these sort of small things.
Which context terms do you choose in order to predict a
particular kind of output?
So in the previous example you used CSV as a way of finding
data tables.
And another way to do this is for example to use advanced
operators like the site colon operator or file type.
We've talked about that in previous seminar.
So there's an example.
You can search for my name is in the New York Times website.
And you'll get exactly that one result.
So there are a lot of tactics.
And over the course of this entire webinar series, we're
trying to give you more and more of these.
But one of things I think is really interesting is to talk
about the strategies that students employ.
Because while they're not necessarily learning all the
mechanics and tactics, they're not learning good
strategies at all.
And this is a bigger issue.
For example, here's a problem about you doing a- this is a
fairly complex search task.
And the problem here is how do you find an answer to this
problem, where all the search terms are simple and obvious
and very, very common, code, decode, cliche, newspaper.
What do you do?
A strategy for solving this is to restrict the space of the
search to something you could do and would actually have a
chance of having those words being meaningful.
One way to do that would be to inside of a book, using say
Google Books.
So you could use a book like David Kahn's The Codebreakers.
And then search inside of that.
And you'll find that the only cliche mentioned is with
response to this story called Calloway's Code by O. Henry.
The point here is that there are strategies that involve
things like reducing the scope of search only to semantically
meaningful search terms.
Now one of the hallmarks of a strategic searcher, someone
who has a rich understanding of how to
search, is having a fallback.
So one of the things that you would like to be able to do if
you're a good searcher is, for example when you land on a
book and you can't actually for copyright reasons look
inside of it, a fallback is to look inside of Amazon and see
if they've got a copy of that book where the copyright
holder has given permission to Amazon to
search within the book.
Or look in Project Gutenberg.
You probably know about Project Gutenberg.
It's a big collection of out-of-copyright, public
domain books, say Moby Dick.
The full text of Moby Dick is in Project Gutenberg.
You can download it and do a extensive search and analysis
of that, if you like.
Another strategy is to think about using different corpus.
We have a lot of different kinds of content.
And it's trivial for you to switch from Google web search
to news search to image search and so on.
I bring this up because it's an interesting strategic
choice to make.
For example, if the question is, what are all the parts of
a bicycle called, you could do this search in image search
and look for a diagram.
So there the word "diagram" is a context term used in image
search corpus space in order to find, guess what, parts
diagrams of bicycles.
And you can answer that question very easily.
The strategic point to note is by switching corpus, you're
switching the kind of things that are indexed and the kinds
of solutions you can get to problems. It's a
great choice to make.
Another kind of strategic knowledge thing to understand
is what makes a good choice for a search term.
So for example, I can use Google Insights Research to
look at a search like climate change.
And I'll see that this is the chart of people searching for
climate change over the past several years.
Now, if I'm doing a search on climate change, do I want to
use "climate change" or "global warming?" Here, I've
compared the searches for climate change
versus global warming.
And you can see global warming totally outranks in total
volume of queries, the number of queries done on that topic.
But if I was searching for a content area in this, I prefer
to start with the term "global warming," because there's
going to be more articles written about it.
I also in my daily practice, use Google Alerts as a way of
having a standing query that allows me to
keep on top of a topic.
So in this case, I would use a term like "climate change" as
a way of getting background information so I don't miss
those other kinds of things that are going on.
Now, there are a lot of difference are strategies.
And what we want to have our students know is how to link
tactical steps together in other to form one of these
One of the things that experienced searchers do is
know when to stop searching.
That is, when they realize they're not succeeding.
And having a strong social network of friends to call
upon when they have trouble.
This is a really good thing for your students to have.
Another kind of thing to understand is they need to
understand that there is more than Google in the world.
Libraries go to a lot of trouble to provide things like
PubMed and ProQuest and things like that.
They need to understand though when those are useful and what
kinds of content they have. They need to understand the
meta for that, what the meta-catalogue is for.
So I realize I've only got two more minutes here.
So I'm going to fast-forward through a couple of these.
And we are going to save this discussion of how to do
evaluation and credibility and authoritativeness for the next
webinar, which is in a week.
Where Tasha will be talking about credibility and
And she'll be covering this topic there.
We'll be talking about spam and what's understandable.
I'm going to fast-forward through this.
So you'll see this in a week.
And just summarize here.
So search literacy is really how do we teach our students
to frame their information need and choose the tools, the
content repository, so that they can get their problem
done effectively.
This is all about having them know what's possible, look out
for content repositories, and understand how to use that and
evaluate the quality content done and
synthesize those results.
What does this mean for us?
For us, for you and I on this phone call, it means that we
need to understand what search literacy is and how we teach
it to our students.
We have to be literate ourselves.
And so what this really means is that we have to understand
that this stuff is changing constantly.
Things we're talking about today will stale quickly.
You've got to have a plan for your own search literacy.
You have to plan to keep this constantly going in your life.
We're going to help you do this.
In a week, Sasha will be talking about
credibility and authority.
In two weeks, I'll come back.
And we'll talk about additional kind of resources,
like Scholar and Path and so on.
And we'll come back in three weeks and talk about extending
your search skills.