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COMM 12: Technology and Communication - Searching the Web: Exercise

Searching the Web Exercise


Searching the WEB

You can always find something on Google when you research a topic, but you often have to sift through a lot of irrelevant materials first.  Other search tools, such as Google Scholar or the library databases, can save you time, especially if you are looking for scholarly articles. 



Do a simple search in Google on the topic of “internet privacy”, how many results do you get?

The first result is probably the Wikipedia entry on internet privacy.  Why does the Wikipedia site always come at the top of the results in Google?


At the top of your results list, on the right side, you will notice a small “gear” icon   

Click on it and select “Advanced Search”.   Use the advanced search screen  to answer the following questions:

·         Find a PowerPoint presentation on “internet privacy” (Hint:  limit by file type)


·         Find a government site discussing internet privacy issues: (Hint: limit by site/domain .gov)



Google Scholar

Use Google Scholar to find a scholarly recent article (published in the last two years)  on the topic of government internet surveillance. 


Publication year:

Can you access the full-text of the article?


Social Media Searching

Google is not very effective at searching the web in real time or searching social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.  If you are interested in knowing what's said about a topic or a person on  social media sites in real time, you need to use  a search tool like TOPSY.

·         Use TOPSY to figure out how many tweets were sent about the “government shutdown” in  

           the  past 24 hours:


·         Use TOPSY to see what people are saying about Santa Clara University on social media these               these days.   Write down one interesting comment.


Google VS. Bing

Google is not the only search engine.  Microsoft’s BING has been around for a while and can generate good results.  For a comparison of BING and Google, go to:

Do a search on  internet neutrality.

Look at the top 10 results in Bing and Google.

Are they the same?  Which search engine provides the most interesting results in your opinion?  Why?


Google Search Results

Have you ever wondered how Google ranks your search results?  Why do some results appear on the first screen, and other on the third one?  Google has just launched a new search algorithm, Hummingbird, that is supposed to provide better results.  Do a search in Google, Bing, or Yahoo, to find out more about how it works.

Then answer the following question: 

Why did Google choose the word “Hummingbird” for the new algorithm?


Google VS. Library Databases

Library databases are often better than Google to find scholarly articles.  Let’s say that you are looking for scholarly articles for your paper on the relationship between cell phone usage and cancer.   

Go to the database Academic Search Complete

Open another window and go to Google.

Do the exact same search on :  cell phones and cancer

In Academic Search Complete, notice that you can limit your search by selecting “peer-reviewed (scholarly) journals”.  Do that. 

Look at your first 3 results in Google and Academic Search Complete.  How would you compare them?