Do You Really Know What A Search Engine Does?

Do You Really Know What A Search Engine Does?

Before you used a computer for the first time you most likely did not know the difference between a search engine and a steam engine or much care. Now however as you stumble around and by this magical place called the World Wide Web you are immediately brought confront to confront with some rather strange names. Google, Yahoo, Bing are the major names you will most likely come in contact with although there are dozens more. Without too much difficulty you have come to know that these are search engines.

You have further discovered that if you open up a search engine you can kind in some minor information and be rewarded with a tremendous amount of information in return. for example by simply typing in a zip code you could find yourself gazing at a map with complete driving directions to aunt Tillie’s house. Magic to be sure. But just what is the purpose of these search engines?

To gain a better understanding of these technical wonders you might think of the internet as a library. Almost all of human knowledge is recorded in the written information. There are various forms of the written information. Books, magazines, research papers and many others. Libraries were devised as not only storehouses of this great treasure but to also provide a method of finding a particular item. (They also provide a desk and chair for a kindly lady. More on that later).

You can walk into any library and by searching an index file or computer program discover that a copy of the book, Welding, Principles and Applications, Fifth Edition is located on a shelf and is numbered 671.52j. Following shelf numbers you will quickly be at a book with that exact number displayed on it’s spine.

Ah. The Dewey Decimal System. Thanks to Melvil Dewey from way back in 1876, we can find almost any item we want in minutes. Now lets imagine that libraries were not so efficient. All the books and magazines and other material were found in piles all around the place. You saunter up to the kindly lady behind the information desk, (remember we mentioned her earlier), and ask where you might find a copy of Welding Principles.

She replies, “I don’t know if we have a copy but if we do it would probably be back in that stack of stuff below the picture of the governor”. See the difference? And this is one of the things that search engines do so well. They are able to take all of the great amounts of material that are obtainable throughout the world and classify it in such a way that you can easily find what you search for.

It is not a simple task. for example if you were searching for boat shoes, you might find results for shoes, horse shoes, running shoes, ladies shoes, boats, sailboats, motor boats and on and on. Search engines are like the kindly lady at the library. They will help you find exactly what you want without searching by that pile of junk under the Gov’s portrait.

They are very good at this task but they do much more. But a that’s a story for another day.

leave your comment