On the Web
- About the Web
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The key to finding sites on the Internet is becoming familiar with search
engines, each of which uses a specific method to find web pages. With
experience you will learn which ones will work best for finding certain
kinds of information. Yahoo! was the
first search engine, and for quite a while it included ONLY web pages that
its founders (two college students who went on to become quite wealthy)
personally viewed and assigned to a category. It remains a popular and
sometimes useful search engine, but users are frequently unaware of the
limitations of using a category-driven approach.
Altavista was the first search engine to operate by "crawling" web pages, giving searchers a way to scan many thousands of web pages for the occurance of particular words or phrases.. Google builds on the Altavista model, but adds complex algorithms for ranking results. Furthermore, it gives users quite an array of specialized search tools. It is virtually the only search engine I now use. For hard-to-find items, try Meta Crawler, a meta search engine that searches many search engines simultaneously. Your success with any search engine will be greatly enhanced if you read the online help that explains how the search engine is organized and how it operates.
It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a browser and a search engine. A browser is a piece of software that allows users to read web pages - just as a word processor allows users to read word-processing files. (See PC Webopædia for a more thorough explanation.) Most browsers, however, include a "SEARCH" button at the top. This button merely connects the user to a particular search engine. In the case of Microsoft IE, this is the MS Network search engine. In the case of Netscape, it is Netscape.com. In the case of AOL, it is AOL.com. You get the picture! You can access these search engines from any browser, but they get a lot of traffic from those "captive" audiences.
It is also sometimes difficult to find basic information on the Internet that you would expect to find in an atlas, encyclopedia, or almanac. The reference staff at BSC's Maxwell Library maintains an excellent site, Internet Resources by Subject, that leads readers to many sites that do provide this kind of ready-reference information.
If you are interested in developing your own web pages, take a look at
Resources for Web
Developers from the BSC Webteam. Some of this is specific to BSC web
developers, but much of it has broader applicability. Lighthouse on the
Web at Shorewalker.com is an excellent
resource for people trying to build web sites that are well-designed. It
emphasizes simplicity and utility, rather than the use of "bells and whistles."
The quality of web sites is usually inversely related to the use of
animations, scrolling, blinking, and so forth. This site provides some thoughts
on how to do things better.