All this searching power leads to the mistaken belief that the best way to find anything is by a direct search. For example many people look for a paper by Googling on the name of the paper. Usually that does lead to a version of the paper to download. But Google searches the deep recesses of the internet and often returns old versions of papers, even technical reports well after conference and journal versions have appeared. Google says "Don't be evil"; I say "Don't be lazy." If you have a reference to a paper in a particular conference or journal, search for that conference or journal and find the paper there if you have access. Or use a site like DBLP. Otherwise look on the author's web pages; good authors will keep versions of their papers up to date. If all this fails you can fall back on Googling the name of the paper. Working off the newest version of the paper will save you far more than the extra fifteen seconds you'll spend searching for it.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Does Google Make Us Lazy?
The search wars are brewing. Microsoft starts a beta test of their new search engine. Yahoo keeps improving their searching as well and Google does not stand still with doubling the number of pages it indexes and their new desktop search (which is rather useless to me because it doesn't index LaTeX files). In addition, search engines now do more than just web searching, for example you can directly use dictionaries, maps, time, a calculator and more with the right shortcuts on Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. What does it mean though when we need a manual to use a search engine?