I was watching the television programme “Des and Mel” in January when their guest, Dave Gorman spoke about a “Googlewack”. He went on to explain that he loaded a search engine called Google and entered two words, which brought up many, many “hits” – a hit being a result. He then altered the words until just one hit appeared and hey presto – he achieved his Googlewack!
So, what is a search engine and how can it help us with Genealogy? Basically, a search engine is a tool to help us identify our search, a directory of web pages much the same as a telephone directory to help us locate required telephone numbers. The search engine “spiders” web pages, that is it visits web pages and lists all the words contained on the page, then when you or I enter a search parameter it lists all those pages that contain our desired results.
There are many search engines to choose from out there in our wonderful world of hyperspace, but here are a few you may like to try, and I do suggest taking a little time to play, have fun and learn more about what a search engine can do for you.
A search engine that I use quite frequently is google www.google.co.uk and for my first attempt I chose the two words “search” and “engine” which brought back 6,640,000 “hits”. The first few on the list were AltaVista www.altavista.com, Lycos www.lycos.com , Google www.google.com , My Excite http://my.excite.com Dogpile www.dogpile.com, AlltheWeb www.alltheweb.com, Webcrawler www.webcrawler.com, Yahoo www.yahoo.com and Metacrawler www.metacrawler.com. Interestingly, it also brought up http://searchenginewatch.com/facts/index.php with useful references and hints on how to improve your search.
Entering the same criteria on Ask Jeeves at www.ask.co.uk brought about a totally different find including www.searchers.com; www.askjeeves.com; www.teoma.com; www.hotbot.com and www.northernlight.com
This shows that two differing sites will produce very different results. If one site doesn’t give you the results you are looking for then try again with another. Additionally, don’t assume that the results given by one site are all encompassing.
In applying this theory to Genealogy, I then attempted a search using the two words “family” and “history”. No surprise in the first “hit” www.ancestry.com where you can search for ancestors names and records, followed by www.familysearch.com the site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Seventh in the list appeared the Federation of Family History Societies at www.ffhs.org.uk. A useful feature of which any searcher should be aware is the facility to search within results. You can use this to enter a specific field that you require, for example within the results for family history I can then enter “UK” which brought about another set of “hits” including Familia at www.familia,org.uk and Genuki at www.genuki.org.uk
I then decided to search again within my results and entered the word “Lincolnshire” which brought about 65,400 “hits”, the first of which was Lincolnshire Family History Society. This I know is along way from perfecting my own googlewack, but it shows different ways in which a search engine can be utilised. It can provide a tool to search for an ancestors name, a location or to provide general background material for our individual Family Histories.
I’ll leave you until next time to search for your own Genealogy googlewack – have fun!
Page updated Wednesday March 12, 2008
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