How To Search: The Art Of Online Research

Do you know how to search specifically for what you want online?

It is no secret that the Internet is now the number one source of information in the world. With new content constantly being pushed out by the second, there are more than enough references to seek if you are searching for specific information related to your research.

From your online libraries, Wikipedia, Google scholar, and even Facebook pages; platforms seem to be growing at a consistent pace. But what most people don’t seem to realize is there is a shift in the flow of information around the Internet.

Most search engines right now are catered towards what it thinks you prefer to see. Check out this TedTalk by Eli Pariser where he talks about online “filter bubbles” here. In the video, Eli shows you how search engines like Google and Facebook filters out information depending on 57 different factors from which computers you are using, to which browser you are surfing from to where you are sitting. I understand the benefits for this when it comes to entertainment, YouTube has recommended and/or related videos, the same would come with gaming websites. But filtering information can be very dangerous when it comes to research, it can lead to biased points of views.

We could say the same thing with news, there is a clear difference when you compare Fox News (American) with Al Jazeera (Middle Eastern), but when you type down a search term like the “Libyan Revolution” on Google, the search engine will feed you results depending on your 57 factors, you might be seeing one of these two results:

When you think about it, this is a very scary thing we are facing; the very fact that search engines might be feeding us bias information can affect our perceptions in almost everything. Learning how to search correctly is more important than ever. So what can we do to make sure we get exactly what we are looking for? How can we fight these “Information gate keepers” as Eli would say?

There are two parts to this solution, one would be for the existing search engines to be more transparent about these things and give us more control in what we want to search. The other one is in us and learning the art of the search. Before we get started, I want you to read this guide to Boolean logic if you are unfamiliar with it as it is an important Fundamental in digital search.