Tara Calishain and Roel Dornfest, Google Hacks, O'Reilly 100 Industrial Strength Tips and Tools

Exploring - the Web

Google has been so successful that it now has its own verb. In the early days of the net there were academic indices, then came and went Altavista. Altavista, believe it or not, was something that people got excited about in the early days but then it succumbed to bad biz models and became slow, cumbersome, and annoying. Yahoo too, had its moments and by all accounts is still widely used.

Google performed the miracle of starting out fast and slim and then staying that way. And along the way gathered a huge following of regular users. All of this was helped by constant improvements in the product. What a concept! In these days of feral companies getting their market share and then attempting to bleed everyone dry by cutting back services and increasing charges, Google is a nice example of how things can work.

So, if you use Google, and have never got beyond refining your search phrases (yeah, yeah - me too) then this book will open your eyes to all sorts of ways in which Google can be used more effectively.

Regular readers here will know of Tara Calishain as we regularly highlight parts of her Researchbuzz newsletter in our news section. Her friendly style extends into this book as well and so the information is quite accessible.

The main sections in the book include an exploration of the syntax for searching, special services and collections, third party google services, non-API Google apps, the Google web API, pranks and games, and finally a section for webmasters who want to boost their pagerank.

If you're a Google user, it's hard to imagine you wouldn't get something useful out of this book.

And here's a little chat we had with co-author Tara Calishain ...

	What do you think are the likely areas for exciting developments in
	search engine technology?

Tara Calishain:
A couple of things pop out at me. The first thing is search engines
getting smarter about what they're looking at. If XML is more widely
implemented, perhaps different aspects of Web pages will be more easily
identified (for example, article headlines and summaries, as well as
creation dates) and both indexing and searching will get smarter.

I would also like to see search engines innovate a little bit with how
they're delivering search results. Yahoo very briefly had RSS feeds for
Yahoo! Finance -- why not? When are we going to see more of this kind of

	One of the problems with search engines is their literalness - we
	have to supply context. Do you think there's room for searching
	from individual apps where the apps will "know", and automatically
	add, a certain degree of context? Has anyone tried that?

Periodically I'll read something where that's tried, and of course
various search engines are showing searches that might be related to
your search. I think that's got to evolve quite a bit more. Actually
Smartborg is kind of interesting; it takes your query and makes search
engine recommendations based on your query: .

	There are a large number of Google API hacks in your book. Did it
	take long to sort and test them all?

Yes! Thankfully I had as co-author Perl wizard Rael Dornfest.

	Do you have a favorite?

No, I love them all. :-> In terms of what I use a lot, I use Goofresh (
www. ) constantly. But that was
the first one I wrote, and I wrote it because I really really really
wanted date-based search in Google!

	Thanks Tara.
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