Call it a response or a backlash or an adjustment. Something is going on in the search world.
There’s a growing recognition that we need more than Google, we need to reach beyond the limits of keyword search to make sense of a crowded, media-rich information landscape. In several upcoming posts, I’ll try to point to some of the newer kids on the block.
We’re seeing a flux of tools offering semantic results (see my post on the Horizon Report)
Semantic-aware applications: Semantic-aware applications are tools designed to use the meaning, or semantics, of information on the Internet to make connections and provide answers that would otherwise entail a great deal of time and effort. These applications react against the limits of keyword searching and bring the promise of a better organized Web through used of structured data, meta-data tagging, and social networking. Early examples of semantic search tools include Twine, Hakia, TrueKnowledge, and SemantiFind . . . See this EDUCAUSE article and this ReadWriteWeb post to learn more.
If FindingDulcinea is representative of search trends, we are also seeing renewed recognition of the need for human-aware tools, for tools that rely on judgment over, or in addition to, algorithm.
FindingDulcinea, a human-based search tool, calls itself The Librarian of the Internet, though I am not sure any librarians are really on the team of around 30 expert researchers, writers and developers.
Nevertheless, in addition to LII and other favorite directories, I find myself regularly exploiting FindingDulcinea’s team, especially for their Web Guides (pathfinders in their own right) to help me build my own pathfinders. I find myself forwarding links and guides to members of our faculty. I cannibalize FD’s discoveries to include in my own curricular guides. Their discoveries are timely and seem to continually attack those topics my students research.
Reminiscent of the About.com search (which those of us who are old as dirt may remember as the Mining Company) with its human guides and structured, contextualized presentation of results, FindingDulcinea offers us more and far more attractively.
What does FindingDulcinea do right? It organizes. It evaluates. It creates context. It is conscious of design. It gets media.
Our mission is to bring users the best information on the Web for any topic, employing human insight and methodical review.
FindingDulcinea presents only credible, high-quality and trustworthy Web sites, saving time for the novice and the experienced user alike.
The site delivers three major types of content:
- Web Guides contain meticulous research and insightful annotations on hundreds of topics, from the very general to the most granular. (There are currently more than 550 of these which regularly include background, media, and primary sources.) Don’t miss the Israel Palestine Conflict, Stem Cells, Teaching Resources, and Preventing Plagiarism.
- Beyond The Headlines provides context to news stories with a range of annotated links including historical, academic and local perspectives. (This is especially good for my students who seem to walk in in the middle of a long-running conversation when they attack the news.)
- Netcetera showcases the wit and personality of the Web, featuring content on innovative people, diverse places and bold ideas. (New movies, must-see Web videos, happy birthday features with timely biographical content, and more.)
In addition to the three main types of content, the site also offers:
a selective search tool, SweetSearch:
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a Google custom search which combs only those sites that have been reviewed and approved by findingDulcinea staff—more than 20,000 of the best Web sites on the Internet.
- the Best Sites feature, derived from the Web Guides, focuses on a handful of the most essential siteson a particular topic.
- Daily Dulcinea, which presents classroom-friendly hot topics in On This Day videos.
- a Complete Topic Index for quick browsing access to content.
- Encontrando Dulcinea, which allows Spanish-speaking users to search and browse in their first language
All sections are available as RSS feeds, providing another handy example of the beauty information pushing for learners of all ages. You may also choose to follow their Tweets, which alert followers to new content.