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The new invisible Web: on searching wikis and tweets and blogs and more

Face it.  We are faced with a new invisible Web.  These days, when we search, we miss so much of the stuff that appears in new Web formats. the Web 2.0 stuff.

For years I told my students that searching Google alone, they missed a huge part of the invisible web that was reachable through databases and through valuable portals (American Memory and Oyez, for instance), best searched with their own interfaces.

I’ve told them that they have a wide assortment of search tools in their toolkit, and that when they searched Google, they might also mosey over to Google Directory, Google Books, Google Scholar, and Google News Timeline

I realize now that I was talking about an old invisible Web.

We have a new relatively invisible web.

Wikis are now an increasingly serious part our webspace. Because they are webpages, they do appear on the results lists of traditional search tools (Wikipedia always makes it towards the top). 

But independent wikis get buried in long lists of results, unless you remember to use search terms like wiki or brands like or to your search.

Why search wikis?  Wikis contain conference content, collaboratively built professional content, pathfinders, archived student work, archived professional work, media, tutorials, book reviews, and more.  Wikis are where I am doing much of my own newer work and I suspect that is true of others.

Happily we have new tools to search this wikispace exclusively. 

  • searches wikispace and offers searchers the opportunity to search: all wikis, wikipedia only, indie wikis only, or encyclopedias only.
  • Google Wiki Search (a customized Google search developed by Rich Hoeg)

My students are just beginning to tap Twitter for identifying experts and to explore the dialogue in their areas of interest.  A variety of search tools now allow them to search Tweets and to search for experts with whom to network:

To find people to follow:

And then we have blogs. At their best, blog posts may be the new interview, the new source of primary sources.  In addition to having students subscribe to RSS feeds–that’s a bit of a commitment–we can help them search blogspace for blog posts or to discover those bloggers who share their interests, those who blog about the subjects they study. 

  • Technorati
  • Google Blog Search
  • Internet Public Library Blogs
  • Bloglines
  • Blogdigger
  • BlogPulse
  • And then we have video.  I’ve been trying to keep up with those tools on a video pathfinder page.

    I am sure I missed some of the best of the new search tools.  Please feel free to add them to my wikis and in your comments!

    Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

    Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


    1. Caitlin says:

      Try using the Greasemonkey script “Twitter Results in Google Searches” ( to search Twitter from Google. I have found it to be a very useful addition to my toolbox. Another useful tool for searching the Invisible Web is to create a custom search engine – via Google – to search sites that may not normally appear in searches. You can also set preferred sites in using a Google account.

    2. Lisa Stave says:

      I liked the idea of opening up these other sites during serching. These other search engines gives more voice to the internet. It would also be nice to open up the internet to help students interview online.

    3. Nuusa Faamoe says:

      I am a PHD student getting ready to seriously look into links where I can gather information pertaining to my research topic. As a consequence of taking two really great educational technology classes here with Dr. Cheri Toledo, I have been exposed to the wonders of all these new search tools. I have used quite a number of what you have here but the summary you provide makes it even easier now to pinpoint others that could also be used.
      I have a twitter link but have never really used it much; however, your ideas about using it to find people who might have information pertaining to my areas of interest, intrigues me. Video finder is new to me so that is something I will also look into. Thank you for these wonderful insights.

      Nuusa Faamoe

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